BSA summer camp children visiting the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion.

Parents often debate on what the focus should be for school age children during the summer. Some think of more relaxing and fun activities while others want to see learning continue, so there is no gap when the new school year begins. 

Although convenient in some ways, keeping children at home or with relatives in the summer may not always work out. Kids get bored easily and many are turning to electronics for stimulation and fun. Caregivers at homes may also tend to allow more electronics because it keeps kids occupied and out of trouble. However, many studies have shown that non-stop hours of daily electronics use can cause strain in young eyes, bad posture, agitation, and even anxiety in some children. 

Well, what if your child was entertained while learning throughout the summer without relying on electronics?! Great summer programs successfully combine learning activities taught in enjoyable and interesting ways to keep children excited during the program. 

Summer camp children making condominiums at 56th & Woodland.

Take for example, a recent activity at our 56th & Woodland academy in Philadelphia where school age children worked on recreating their community through the use of recyclable materials. The kids used cardboard boxes, juice and egg cartons to create condominium buildings, parks, and streets representing their community. “The children were so excited to work on this every day. You didn’t have to ask them, they just wanted to continue right where they left off the previous day. That’s the kind of experience we aim for with our summer campers!” said Academy Director Veronica Godbolt.

It is learning experiences like this one which can make a world of difference for children in summer camps. But, it’s not just about the learning. There are more benefits to structured summer programs. Things like:

  • Establishing long lasting friendships
  • Developing a sense of trust through a daily routine
  • Becoming a life-long learner
  • Participating in field trips to exciting venues
  • Allowing for new experiences
  • Receiving nutritious meals
  • Staying cool on hot summer days (air conditioned facilities)

We are in the middle of summer and there are more weeks left of fun, learning activities for school age kids at Brightside Academy. Call us today at 877-868-2273 for engaging experiences at one of our 24 Philadelphia or 9 Pittsburgh locations! We’ll also gladly help your family in the process of applying for subsidized rates through CCIS if you qualify. 

Your child is waiting for a great summer, get started now!


School may be over for the summer, but that doesn’t mean your child’s learning should stop! It’s important for children to continue their education after the school bell rings. Ongoing education is key to a child’s development and future learning habits. So, how does your child continue to learn while on summer break? Check out some ideas below.

Discover active learning environments.

Check with your local parks and venues to see about educational camps and other activities. Find out what exhibits, events or concerts are happening in your area town over the summer. A fun idea is to create a calendar to keep track of events and to get your kids excited.

Try to build reading and writing into everyday activities.

Some ideas include having your children read the directions for how to play a new game, or helping with meals by writing up a grocery list, finding things in the grocery store, and reading the recipe aloud during meal prep.  

Create reading charts. 

Create a fun way to increase reading by having a weekly or monthly reading chart. Have your kids make goals as to how many pages they can read in day, how many books per month etc. If you have more than one child, have a friendly competition on who can read more.

Encourage writing. 

Have your child write in a summer journal. Tracking memories is a great way to remember all the fun times they had during their summer break. It also promotes good grammar and sentence structure.

Invest in educational games.

Many games have an educational aspect to them. Whether it’s counting money in Monopoly, identifying numbers with card games or creating a strategy to win a board game, games can help with numerous  cognitive skills.

Written by Lauren Morelli, Director of Marketing and Communications.

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Studies show that toddlers and pre-schoolers who are read to every day have a larger vocabulary than those who are not read to at all. Even infants love being held and hearing the voice of their mom or dad as they read them a book.

Not only does reading enhance a child’s vocabulary, and to help them begin to understand how to read and write. Reading to your child also increases their knowledge of the world around them.

Studies also reveal that by reading to babies and toddlers, they often gain a head start in preparing then for school later on.

Read on to learn some more benefits associated with reading to your child.

Reading Develops Language Skills

Reading to your child helps further develop their language skills. Reading exposes your child to vocabulary on different topics, which means they hear words or phrases that they may not hear in their day-to-day lives.

Concentration Improves With Reading  

Children have to sit still and pay attention when someone reads to them. Therefore, by reading to your child every day, your child will learn to concentrate and better sit still for longer periods. This will be very helpful when they start attending school.

Books Teach Children About the World Around Them

Reading teaches children about different topics from all around the world. There are books on topics like animals and places. In addition, there are books that help teach children important lessons or life skills such as sharing, being kind and diversity.

Imagination and Creativity Grow By Reading  

Through reading, children are able to use and grow their imagination. Their minds imagine the characters, the setting and the story. This enables them to exercise their brains and become more creative.

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Potty Training Pointers

Potty training can be a very stressful time for you and your child. Generally, kids are ready to potty train around age two, but for some children, it may take them until they are three or older. If your child is really struggling with the concept of potty training, it probably means they are not ready yet. It’s important to remember not to push your child before they are ready and to be patient. 

When your child is ready to start potty training, use the ideas below to help ease the process.  

Use a Potty Chair

Go out and buy a potty chair. Children often feel more secure starting with a potty that is on the floor rather than one that goes top of the toilet because they are able to balance better with their feet on the floor.

The potty chair does not have to be in the bathroom. Put it in a place that is convenient to where your child spends most of their time, like their bedroom or playroom.  You want it to be easily accessible.

Focus on Your Child

Watch your child very closely for the first couple of days of potty training to see when they are ready to go. You will hopefully be able to pick up cues on when they get the urge to go. It is best to start potty training when you have a couple of days off or over the weekend so you have time to focus on their training.

Give Rewards

Create a reward system that motivates your child, but make sure that it realistic for you to sustain. Use small rewards such as stickers or a special snack. When your child goes on the potty, they get the reward. It is important that you only give a reward when they have earned it, even if they get upset.

Create a Chart

Make a chart and hang it on the wall. Use check marks or stickers to mark down when they have made progress like using the potty or letting you know that they have to go. Don’t make it too difficult to receive a check mark or a sticker, you want to make the goals easily attainable.

Positive Reinforcement

It is important that you give your child lots of praise throughout the potty training process. Tell them how proud you are of them and how they are doing a great job. A little positive reinforcement goes a long way.

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It’s hard as a parent waking up every few hours to tend to your baby. You are tired and want a good night’s sleep. Don’t stress yourself out too much because there are helpful hints and techniques to help your baby sleep longer throughout the night.

The term “sleep training” is often used to describe ways parents help their baby achieve a full night’s sleep. There are several methods usually used to sleep train babies. One approach may work for you and another approach may work for another parent.

Sleep-Training Methods


The self-soothing approach can sometimes be difficult for parents. With this approach, you refrain from nighttime soothing and allow the infant to cry alone until they fall asleep. The goal is to get the baby to soothe themselves back to sleep and not rely on you to soothe them. This method should not be used until your baby is at least 6 months old and has slept through the night before.

If this method is successfully working for you and your baby, you should notice after a few days that your baby is crying less and for shorter lengths of time during the night. You should not allow your baby to continue to cry if they are not starting to soothe themselves. If you’re concerned, talk to your pediatrician about an appropriate length of time your child can go without you soothing them.

Parental Soothing

This method is the opposite of self-soothing. This method will take a bit longer to successfully work.   When using the Parental Soothing method, you will comfort your baby each time they cry. The goal is for them to adjust to a full night’s sleep at their own pace.

If you have been regularly soothing your child up and they are not able to sleep through the night, trying a different method may be what you and your baby need.

Fading Method

This method is a combination of the first two methods. With the Fading Method, you wean your baby from nighttime soothing. This method is usually done slowly by lessening your nighttime soothing over the course of a few weeks.

There are two ways to use the fading method: camping out and check-ins. To use the camping out approach, you can sit in a chair near your baby’s crib until they are asleep. If they wake up and cry or fusses, you slightly soothe them. Every few nights, move the chair farther away but still within view. Hopefully, within two weeks, you should be able to leave the room after putting your baby down to sleep.

For the check-in approach, put your baby in their crib for bed and leave the room. Leave your baby for short periods of time, about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, if your baby is fussing, return and comfort them. You may lightly pat your baby or tell them that it’s time to sleep and then leave the room.

Extra Tips to Help Sleep Train Your Baby

When you’re beginning a sleep training method, remember that it can take a while to see progress. Below are some tips to help you with sleep training your baby:

  • Keep the lights dim, speak very softly and keep stimulation to a minimum
  • Keep nighttime feedings calm and quiet
  • Remember, crying always seems longer to a parent— an infant under 5 months old will cry fifteen to twenty minutes on average.  

Keep in mind it may take a while to find the right routine to help your baby sleep through the night.  Sometimes, a specific method just won’t work. You may find that a combination of methods or your own personal approach works better. Good luck! 

Written by Lauren Morelli
Director of Marketing and Communications

Have comments or suggestions? Reach out to me at