A version of this post appeared in Spring of 2021.
Summer Break is Fast Approaching
It’s May and the summer break from school will be here before ya know it. I would hate to have you awaken that fateful day in early June with the incessant “I’m bored”, or loud screaming that typically accompanies siblings being home together all day.
Oh, the joys of summer.
There is much to think about, and all kinds of activities to do. It can be overwhelming just trying to fit everything in the few short months before summer ends. On the other hand, it can seem like, without the schedule of classes and school activities, some kids are in a hopeless state of boredom over summer break.
For All the Planners
A very effective way to plan for the summer while squeezing out every drop of fun you can is to get a calendar and plan the entire summer out, week-by-week. You may have some day-long, or week-long camps; the annual summer vacation to the beach or Disney, your kid’s sporting events, a trip to Aunt Rhoda’s… Once you have those regular events scheduled, you can start getting creative. Oh, by the way, if your child has special needs, contact the Park (Disney…) they formerly provided passes to avoid long wait times.
I’ll bet your family has a bucket list of fun and ‘different’ things you all would like to do, but haven’t. Often, we don’t do fun things because we don’t plan for them. So, plan the activities and get that small flower garden planted, bake some cookies, go camping in the backyard, go on that day trip to Gettysburg, project a movie on your garage door and have a homemade drive-in, do some star-gazing, start an annual neighborhood kickball tournament and, of course, can’t forget about getting a net (not a Wiffle bat) and catching lightning bugs.
Not Everything Has to Be “Fun” Over Summer Break
You may include some things in the summer agenda that aren’t necessarily fun but are still worthwhile. Summer is an excellent time to home your kids’ skills such as math, writing, or reading. If your child has special education services, talk to the Principal now about whether your child qualifies for Extended School Year (ESY). We also offer intensive summer online programming through DyslexiaTreaters.com. Teach the kiddos how to do various chores around the house (how to wash the family car…) or do a family project such as cleaning out that garage. In fact, sometimes those ‘chores’, if done together as a family, can be a bonding experience. Especially when the outcome is achieved by everyone’s hard work.
If your child is on the spectrum, the summer break from school is a time you can be a bit more indulgent in your child’s obsessive interests (sharks, star wars, etc…) but only after nonpreferred is done, and don’t overindulge! Also, in the same vein, there can be a tendency to isolate and avoid social encounters; be sure to incorporate supervised social encounters into the calendar. You may find it helpful to plan trips to the zoo, local library, autism-friendly theatre, and bookstore. Also, don’t forget for all kiddos: daily running around and lots of physical activity.
Childcare, Babysitting, and Summer Camps
Babysitters and childcare tend to get filled up pretty quickly, so don’t delay in connecting with that local teenager who does a great job with your kids, or that daycare provider who comes highly recommended by your friends. Reserve the spots and make deposits, based on the schedule mentioned earlier. Also, start now to reserve spots for summer camps: they fill up very quickly. If your child has special needs and will be attending a therapeutic camp, call your child’s case manager for an updated list of camps, and contact your child’s psychologist to obtain a current prescription. If you want to enroll your special needs child into a typical camp or activity, and believe he’ll need individualized attention, you may be able to obtain IBHS (formerly ‘wraparound services’) to provide such attention. Contact their psychologist to further discuss this option.
Keeping a Daily Routine
Summer is time for relaxation, being laidback, and being more flexible and free-flowing. However, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Maintaining some semblance of routine can be helpful, especially if it involves getting past the less favored tasks (chores, academics) to move on to more fun, sun-filled activities. If your child has special needs, maintaining a consistent routine is even more important. In fact, be sure he knows about the schedule, what to expect, and answer any questions ahead of time. A picture schedule is also very helpful!
As the Summer Winds Down
I hate to write about the summer ending when it hasn’t even begun, but keep in mind the importance of getting more and more into a school routine as the summer comes to a close. The last week of summer should be very close to the school routine in terms of bedtime and wake-up.
Have a wonderful summer!!!