If you’re a parent, you’re likely feeling the pressure for your kid to learn a language. But then there are those nagging questions: is my child too young to study abroad? And what’s the right age to start? Come summertime, you know there are lots of decisions to make where your child is concerned. Luckily, for children of all ages, there are plenty of options available to keep kids happy and give them the language skills they need to have a bright future.
At what age should my child start studying abroad?
This is a tricky question because every child is different. However, as a general rule of thumb, children ages 6 and under are usually too young to be sent off on their own to sleep-away camp. Starting at age 7, you can consider this option if your child is able to do basic things on their own, like take a shower, get dressed and tie their shoes, and sleep through the night.
And, there are even some advantages to sending children this age away from home for a short period of time. Younger children (think ages 7-8) often deal with homesickness better than older children (11-12) who have never spent time away from home before. That said, no one knows your child better than you do, so make the best call for your individual situation, and if you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to language camp experts for advice.
Here’s a round up of some of the study abroad options for children of all ages:
Option 1: Spend summer “at the teacher’s”
This is a fantastic option for kids as young as 7 years old up through older teens, if what you’re looking for is a completely personalised experience. Your child will make major language progress during their time spent with a host family, and not just any host family, but one where the mother or father will be your child’s private language teacher! Full immersion (meal times, excursions to museums and local attractions, etc.) including tailor-made private English or French classes in England, Ireland or France will keep even the youngest children happy and entertained, and parents will be delighted with their children’s progress.
Option 2: Enrol in a language summer camp
Surrounded by other children their own age, your child will definitely make the most out of a language summer camp. With mornings spent diving into language classes full of activities designed to make learning fun, kids will make quick progress without even realising it. Afternoons of excursions to beaches, lakes or waterparks, plus sporty activities, proven to speed up the language learning process, will make your child never want to leave! Age-wise, you can send kids as young as age 7 up through age 16 to a summer language camp.
Option 3: Combine a language with an activity
Do you want your kid to learn English but they’re begging for basketball, horse riding or dance camp? What if you could have it all? By going to a summer camp for your child’s favourite activity in the target language you want them to learn, everyone will be happy. This type of option is a great way for your child to pick up specific vocabulary related to the hobby of their choice and study in the language in addition to simply studying the language. Activity options include tennis, football, basketball, horse riding, golf, fencing, surfing, cooking, technology, fashion and more. It’s a win-win!
Option 4: Summer camp for the whole family
If your family includes any young children (under age 7), a family summer course could be the way to go. This type of option is fantastic for the flexibility it gives you. As parents, you can choose to enrol in a language course of your own with other students your age, or just kick back and relax while the kids are away at day camp! Don’t worry about the littlest ones being too young to study abroad as there are baby-sitting services available, while the older kids will have the time of their lives during a day camp that combines learning a language with fun games, activities and excursions. In the afternoons or evenings (you choose), you’ll meet up as a family again and be able to talk about the amazing day you all had!
To sum up, you can think about sending your child to a summer language camp at around 7 years old, always when taking into consideration your specific family circumstances. The hard part will be choosing just one summer camp out of so many fantastic options!