School’s out for summer!
Most of the parents I work with have already asked a variation on the same question: “What should I do with them now that school is out?” They don’t want their child to regress in skills, but are not sure where to start, or what the best options are for them.
The kids I work with tend to have either developmental delays or autism, so my answer is geared towards what is appropriate for them, though most of these activities are appropriate for every child (and adult!).
I encourage participation in a few different types of activities, if the family is able.
Social Group: this could be getting together with peers or a day camp. Over the summer, neurodiverse children can easily regress in their social skills because they aren’t being put in situations where it’s necessary to use them! In the classroom, or preschool, children have to interact with non family members.
Outdoor Adventure: a new physical activity to involve the child in. This is important because many of these kiddos don’t like being outside and don’t like physical activity. We know the importance of a) running their energy out and b) preventing childhood obesity, both can be addressed through play!
Find an adventure! Go on a nature walk and observe bugs and plants. If they know how to swim, try a lake or pool. Even activities like horseback riding, kayaking, and tennis can improve confidence, physical ability and cognitive skills. The idea is to get the child out of their comfort zone. Show them they are capable of learning and trying new things.
Tabletop Tasks: this is still important! The skills of sitting, attending, and completing work can be lost as easily as those social skills. Encourage your child to work at the table throughout the day, primarily focusing on completion of tasks. Make sure y’all are eating at the table for meals and the child must follow family rules. It can be a hard adjustment for anyone to go 3 months without structure and then be thrust back into a rigid routine!
Every family needs downtime and not every second needs to be (or can be) planned. Children don’t need to be entertained. Let them be creative, expressive, and to get bored (the horror). Enjoy a relaxed approach to family time and play.