As school years come to a close, and temperatures start to rise, summer makes her grand entrance. Simultaneous feelings of freedom and adventure mingle with the fear that you may hear the dreaded words:”I’m bored.” We’ve already spent some time convincing you that boredom is actually healthy and important for your child’s development. Now we will provide some solutions to help your summer sail smoothly.
Problem: “My child hates being outdoors, and is only barely amused by puzzles, reading, and crafts. He craves screen time and video games, and I’m not home to monitor how much he is really using during the summer.”
Solution: Your child is not alone! According to digital analysis group NPD, 91% of children ages 2-17 play video games. Video games are a part of most children’s lives and culture, and the important skill to be teaching at this age is responsible consumption of video games. Controlling for the type of video game played (there is very little value to graphic, first person shooter games for a developing mind), video games can actually contribute to problem solving skills, creativity, flexibility, and more. Additionally, video games are a powerful motivator for children. Making arrangements with your child that certain tasks must be completed, such as reading, chores, and non-screen related creativity and social skills be completed first, a child may earn a certain amount of video game time. And because video games are so highly desired, they would make it far more likely that these tasks will be completed.
There are also apps and programs that take your child’s genuine love of electronics and video games and teaches them valuable skills, like coding and programming. Your child can turn this unproductive habit into a highly productive skill that can build other STEM skills over the summer.
Problem: “My special needs child requires extended school year and ongoing therapies, while her sisters all get to have typical summers of camps and sleepovers. How can I make this more fun and fair of a summer for all?”
Solution: Depending on the level of care your child may need, they may be in a shortened school day, which means that afternoons can be packed with inclusive fun for all of the kids, like visiting parks, museums, and botanical gardens. Also, communicate with your child’s therapists and see if it may be appropriate to replace or supplement regular ongoing therapy with a camp that provides both therapy and recreational activities similar to other camps your other children may be attending. Your other children likely have their own experiences and feelings about having a sibling with special needs, and may benefit from attending a camp or workshop with other siblings.
Problem: “My child struggled last school year, and tends to need more time than other kids to catch up after the summer off. What can I do to keep him on grade level, but not burn him out while other kids get to play?”
Solution: It may be worth trying to catch the teacher before they leave for the summer, and having a more in depth conversation about your child’s academic needs. Are there certain subjects that cause more trouble than others? If your child is truly struggling, it may be worth requesting an evaluation from the school district to rule out a learning disability, or consulting with a psychologist about an executive skills evaluation to rule out something like an attention disorder. In the meantime, to keep your child’s skills fresh over the summer, consider purchasing a workbook from the grade just completed, and having your child complete 1-2 pages a day to earn screen time or other privileges. Other programs, offer in person or online tutoring to supplement your child’s summer.
Challenge your child to use some of the learned skills while enjoying his or her summer. On a road trip, have your child count out the change while getting snacks from the gas station, or have a nightly family read aloud of a classic like Lord of The Rings, or the Harry Potter series, alternating family members to read chapters to the rest of the family, and asking intermittent questions to check on listening comprehension.
Overall, summer is a time to enjoy longer days, and more time together. Balancing skills learned and therapy needs with fun and adventure are the key to an enjoyable summer for all. And if you need more ideas for summer problem solving, contact us. We can help!