Monday with Maureen: 5 Tips for a smooth summer
The idea of a long summer break is often romanticized…days of riding bikes, ice cream trucks and long vacations. If you have a child on the spectrum, you know that time off from school can be an anxious period for both kids & parents.
It’s important to embrace the freedom that summer break offers, but remember our little ones crave structure, routine and balance. Here’s how to mix the two:
Create a Summer Schedule: Perhaps Mondays are museum days, Tuesdays for crafts, etc. Once you and your child create a feasible weekly schedule, post it in a visible location. Having a visual reminder will help keep anxiety at bay.
Get Physical: Kids need to move. Period. It’s our job as parents to provide a safe, effective outlet for that energy. But that doesn’t mean it has to be boring! Sack Races in the back yard are awesome for burning off some steam. The bonus? They will build up coordination, leg strength and cooperation skills. Balance Bikes are great too. They give an upright posture similar to that of a regular bike, making it ideal for your little one to learn riding and balance skills. Children move the pedal-free bikes by pushing the ground with their feet and because there are no stabilizers your child naturally learns how to balance and control the bike.
Give Sensory Feedback: Kiddos learn best when they engage their senses. Arts & Crafts are an excellent opportunity to explore color, shape and sensory experiences. Set up an art easel outside & let them paint a picture of the backyard. Hide colored marbles in the sandbox and have them find only the yellow ones. Nature walks are also excellent when paired with a game of I Spy. The important thing is engagement!
Encourage Education: Just because school is out, doesn’t mean it’s time to put the books down. Summer is a wonderful opportunity to read, learn & grow. The idea of starting a new grade can be daunting for any child. By starting some of the material now, at home, you will instill confidence and lessen the jitters. One of our favorites is the All Ready for Kindergarten Readiness Kit. Simple fine motor activities are great too. Grab a box of plastic straws and cut them into small pieces. Have your child string the straws on a piece of string or yarn and create fun necklaces.
Time-out: No, we’re not talking about being sent to the corner. When there is a change in schedule, anxiety can run high. Be sure to provide a place AND a break in the day to allow your little one to “crash”. For those sensory issues, a swing provides that quiet little retreat. It’s a safe place to breath, relax and reset.
Just remember, summer break doesn’t have to be stressful. When you plan for fun—you have a plan for success!