Is My 5-Year-Old Too Young for Full-Day Camp?

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Wondering if your child is ready for full-day camp? See what preschool director Ms. Lydia has to say. Do you have a question about kids ages 2–6? See below for how to submit to "Ask Ms. Lydia."

Dear Ms. Lydia,

I am a busy mom of three kids under the age of 6. With all the time we’ve spent at home lately, I am hoping to send my 5-year-old to day camp this summer. Is she too young to attend a full-day camp? She is verbal and assertive, but hasn’t attended kindergarten yet, so I’m a little nervous about it.

- Tired in Tierrasanta

Dear Tired,

You know your daughter better than anyone, so trust your instincts while keeping these points in mind: 

  1. Has she been in a group childcare setting before?
  • Children who have experience being away from parents and interacting in a group are more successful in full-day camp.
  • If she has not had any group experiences, camp could still be a positive experience if you have an open dialogue with counselors so they will be more sensitive to her needs.
  1. How independent is your daughter?
  • In a camp environment, children need to be able to open their own lunch, use the restroom without help, follow directions and more.
  • Be sure to practice self-sufficiency skills regularly before camp to set her up for success.
  1. How social is your daughter?
  • Does she make friends easily? 
  • Does she have a group she socializes with?
  • You mentioned that she is verbal and assertive. Does she stand up for herself and ask for help, when needed?
  1. Are YOU ready for her to go to camp?
  • Children are intuitive; if parents are hesitant about camp, kids will pick up on that and be hesitant as well. 
  • Be confident in your decision, so your daughter is confident as she sets off for camp.
  • Make sure she knows that you trust the adults she’ll be spending her days with. Reassurance will help reduce any fears.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that there are many benefits to young children attending day camp. Most of the time, children will learn and grow leaps and bounds while at camp. In a quality camp program, the counselors will be nurturing, attentive and encouraging. They should also provide age-appropriate activities that teach skills while having fun. Consider looking for camps accredited by the American Camp Association. If you’re still hesitant, consider a half-day camp alternative.

Good luck with your decision,
Ms. Lydia

Lydia Smith has a degree in Developmental Psychology and was a preschool director/owner/teacher for 25 years. She is mother of two adult sons.


Do you have a question for Ms. Lydia about your child who is between the ages of 2–6? Email it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for possible inclusion in the next issue of Family Magazine. Please put “Ask Ms. Lydia” in the subject line and be sure to include your name, ages of children and the area of San Diego County you live in.

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