Child Sense: Plan your child’s summer around their sensibilities

Priscilla J. Dunstan

Summer holidays are looming, and it’s hard to know what to do with our little ones. It’s a hard balance to get right. Enough time to rest, enough time to spend with family and enough activities to keep them busy and interested. By being aware of your child’s dominant sense you will be able to cater to their sensibilities successfully.

Tactile children will love anything outdoors and physical. The more physical contact the better, and the more children and friends they are around, the better, too. The more the merrier.

They appreciate rules and follow them easily, love to participate in group activities and their enthusiasm lends them to being good at most sports and activities. They will find it difficult to focus on quiet, indoor or sit-down activities, like crafts or board games, and will tend to become disruptive if they can’t find a way of turning it into a boisterous group activity.

Easily distracted, the tactile child will like the togetherness of a sleep-away camp, and as long as it includes lots of physical activity. He won’t be too homesick. Don’t expect long letters from camp, but plan for a long visit at pick up, as they physically show you all they have been doing.

Taste and smell children find it hard to separate their own interests from their friends’, as they view the world in a more collective sort of way. For camp, your taste and smell child will often pick an activity just to be with friends, rather than from a deep interest in the activity itself.

They will prefer smaller more intimate-sized camps, revolving around animals, or gentle activities. Taste and smell children are not as adventurous as some of the other senses, and prefer to be close to home or with a friend. Half-day camps or day camps in small doses work best. The sleep-away option will tend to cause more tears than smiles, so if that is the choice, don’t be surprised if there are tears and sad letters home.

They will fare better once they have a like-minded friend, so encourage your child to look for a camp buddy – on the camp bus, or during orientation the first day.

Visual children will like to go to camps with activities at which they excel. To insure they try the new activities at camp, consider arranging for a private lesson for things they’ve never tried. You might find one quick tennis lesson will boost their self-esteem enough for an entire summer on the court.

The visual child will be very picky about what he takes and wears to camp. Allow them this freedom if possible, as it is a way of controlling their world – which can change a lot from home and school to the beach, mountains or country of camp.

The visual child will prefer shorter and fewer camps, targeted on activities they really like, rather than a long multi-activity camp. Single-activity camps are perfect for them – a week of film, ballet, soccer, etc.

Auditory children love to talk, chat and tell funny stories. They process information verbally, so while you may think that music, music and more music will satisfy your child’s needs, you may be disappointed.

Auditory children like patterns. They process verbal and auditory information better. Music camps are great, but there will need to be time for them to chat with friend, sing little ditties and do other activities separate from listening. She will be drawn to more structured days rather than a haphazard, unstructured curriculum. Look for camps that have a clear routine, with limited variation from day to day. Opt for smaller groups and cabins, as this will mean less background noise, rather than a large everyone-bunks-together arrangement. Their ears need a holiday as much as the rest of them!

Keep your child’s sensory dispositions in mind when choosing summer camp, and make sure you pick a camp that suits their needs to create lasting happy memories

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Priscilla J. Dunstan is a child and parenting behavior expert and consultant and the author of “Child Sense.” Learn more about Priscilla and her parenting discoveries at