Many children perform best when they follow a schedule and have a consistent routine. School is coming to an end and summer is approaching, which also translates to a less structured schedule and, potentially, a less productive day. Here are a few suggestions to make the most out of your summer routine:
• At school, many children follow a picture schedule that lets them know what activities they will be participating in that day. Summer is a great time to let kids be kids and allow them to learn through play and gain independence while choosing what toys and activities they want to do on a daily basis. If your child craves predictability and struggles with transitions, try making a summer picture book. Take pictures of your child’s toys, games, books, and places they enjoy playing (backyard, park, pool, etc.) and allow them to create their own plan for the day.
• Play dates with peers are a great summertime activity. Be sure to swap information with the parents of your child’s friends at school before the end of the year. Children learn a lot through playing together, including skills such as negotiating, compromise, taking turns, communication and imaginative play.
• See the “Building Social Skills through Play Dates” blog for tips on how to add structure for a successful play date. Host “family camp” or “neighborhood camp”
• Participate in sports, obstacle courses or sprinkler races as a family. Add fun teams, like girls vs. boys or parents vs. kids.
A few quick tips for a smoother transition to summer camp:
■Discuss the similarities of camp and school: you bring a lunch and backpack, you’ll be with a teacher or counselor, many of your friends will be there, there’s the excitement of meeting new friends.
■Find out if your summer camp has an orientation night where the counselors meet with parents and kids so everyone knows who their camp counselors are.
■If applicable, reassure your chid that her older or younger siblings will be at the same camp and that they will be arriving and leaving together.
■Pack a transitional item in her backpack that can comfort her throughout the day.
■Create a social story that explains what summer camp is all about, what she can expect and what kinds of activities she will be participating in. Read it with her frequently.
Article by Meghan Orenchak
Meghan Orenchak received her Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy from Western Michigan University. Her pediatric experience includes working as an OT at an outpatient clinic and working for North Shore Pediatric Therapy. Meghan has also gained OT experience with the pediatric population throughout her schooling, specifically, leading a social skills group for school age children and administering an applied behavior analysis (ABA) program while obtaining a minor in psychology.