“Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August.” — Jenny Han
Summer is here and in full effect. If you are a mom, I’m sure you are hearing it… “Mom… I’m bored!” “Mom, there’s nothing to do!” “Mom, it’s so hot!” “Mom, I’m hungry!” And so on and so forth. You know it’s still vital to your sanity to maintain some kind of routine, some kind of schedule, especially if your child has special needs. But finding fun and engaging activities that aren’t too overwhelming or overstimulating. It is very different taking a typically developing child to the pool than one who has ADHD or Autism. Planning different activities takes time and good planning. This can turn into a daunting task, especially if you just received a diagnosis.
Summer activities can be just a fun for your child as they are for their peers. You just need to know which ones work best for your child. Here are my top three fun things you can plan to make this summer a memorable one!
- Get In The Water. What is summer time without water? Water has long been known as a great way to relax and keep calm. A lot of therapists use pools and aquatic therapy, especially for children with sensory issues and Autism. It is important to plan effectively before any trips to the pool or beach. Be sure to teach your littles proper pool safety. It might also be a good idea to go to the pool either toward the beginning of the day or toward the end; going right in the middle might be too overstimulating for some children. The beach is also a good option, not only because of the bigger space it provides, but also because there is sand! I hear you… sand is the worst! It just gets everywhere! But sand is a great tool for children to manipulate, especially when stressed. My daughter took to the beach right away when we moved to Hawaii. We didn’t know she had ADHD at the time, but she had started exhibiting concerning behaviors, especially when she became frustrated. She also became more impulsive. I noticed that the feeling of the sand in her hand and between her toes was calming for her; she was an entirely different person at the beach.
- Stay Local. Summer time can often be a time when people plan vacations because school is out. It’s not a bad idea, then to try to stay local when possible. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t plan little trips here and there but as I mentioned before, it is pertinent, especially with smaller children to maintain some sort of schedule. Big vacations can encourage families to forget normal routines which can be difficult for some children with special needs. Do your best to discover fun, local events in your area. It was a bit challenging for us to stay local, with us moving this summer, but the stop in Jersey has really helped. We have explored local farmer’s markets, petting zoos, and participated in fun events that have also helped save money. When you stay local, you are teaching your children the value of supporting small businesses as well as learning more about the area in which you are.
- Keep Learning. Summer doesn’t mean the learning stops. There has been research to show that while school is out, children can lose some of the achievement gains they made during the year. And most schools are doing something about it. At my son’s previous school, one of the first grade made an “End the Summer Slide” workbook for students so that they can hold on the skills they’ve learned while preparing for the next grade. Some children learn better while doing different things. My children are a prime example. My daughter loves to get her hands on everything she can; it’s how she can better understand the world around her. We have made it a priority to get out of the house and explore at a variety of places that are educational. So far, we have toured historic Philadelphia, hung out at one of the biggest children’s museums we’ve ever been to in Indianapolis, went on nature hikes, and explored the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. There are future plans to get into as many museums as possible in Washington DC, and explore the National Mall. We still practice our skills on paper every day, but we do our best to supplement what they have learned with experience. And because most of these experiences involve my son’s interest in history and science, it makes learning a lot of fun!
So what kind of shenanigans are you and yours getting into this summer? Do you agree with these suggestions? Is there anything you’d add? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment at the bottom.