Sleeping away from home is a rite of passage for all children. What age is best varies for each child and family. ISDenver offers sleep-away opportunities beginning in third grade with our overnight trip to Snow Mountain Ranch.
Some suggestions and considerations as you prepare for your child’s first sleep away from home:
Does your child want to go?
- If your child is excited, talkative, and planning with friends, that is a good indicator that yes, they are ready!
- However, if your child is moody, reticent, closed off, then you may have reasons for concern. Just because “everyone else” is going on a sleep-away, does not mean your own child is ready. Talk positively about what will happen. This will help your child feel more confident to leave home.
It is perfectly normal for a child to be excited for a sleep away but still have some concerns.
- The week before a trip is a perfect time to discuss those concerns, and a good time to prepare by playing the “what if” game. Ask your child questions like: What if you woke up scared? What if you don’t feel good? What if you get mad at a friend? What if you get a blister? What if…? This gives your child the opportunity to externalize and work out concerns ahead of time with you.
Is your child physically capable of taking care of him/herself?
- Your child should be able to take care of individual tasks like buttons, zippers, and tying their shoes.
- Can your child take care of braces, retainers, glasses, or contacts? Does your child know how to apply sunscreen and bug spray? Will he/she remember to drink water and eat snacks throughout the day? Does your child understand the importance of good hygiene? These are all things to consider when sending your child on an overnight.
Your child may be worried about what you are doing while they are gone.
- Let your child know that he/she will be missed, but that you will be doing fun grown up things. Your child needs to know you will miss them, but that their absence will not make you sad. Reassure your child of how excited you are for him/her to have fun experiences and how you can’t wait to hear all about them when the trip is over.
Sometimes children appreciate a little bit of home coming with them while away.
- Send a favorite stuffed toy or lovie for sleeping. You can even write a little note to be opened each day containing words of love and encouragement from you. Children may also want a picture of you or the family pet. You know best what your child needs to feel comforted.
Whenever your child is ready for a sleep away, hopefully these suggestions will help it go smoothly. You will know in your gut when that time has come. Whatever decision you and your child make will be the right one!