Strategies to Make the Most of Summer Fun for Kids
Ahhhhh, summer fun!
As children take their last bus rides of the school year and get ready to toss backpacks to the side, parents are reminded of the wonderful break summer affords such as sleeping in, breaking from routines and chasing fireflies, to name a few.
For most people, including parents, it is a welcome time of year. For children afflicted with emotional or developmental issues and their parents and caregivers, it can present challenges to scheduling and keeping their kids on track, especially after the pandemic restrictions of the recent year.
Summer can be an anxious time for those with mental health issues such as anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorders or intellectual and developmental disorders (I/DD), according to an article from Child Mind Institute. For many parents and children, the school year allows for a routine and a sense of what comes next, while carefree summer days follow a more laid-back approach to everyday life, explained Monarch’s Director of Psychology Amanda Matthews, M.A., LPA.
With a bit of preparation and trial and error, parents can make summer memories for their children. Matthews shared tips that might help make the most out of the freedom from packing lunches and carpooling to school events.
Plan for success, keeping to your schedule as much as possible.
You know your child’s best. Plan around their unique tastes and interests, as well as schedules to which they are accustomed, Matthew suggested.
“Consider offering your child two options of an event to participate in during the day. Both options should be able to be completed, even if other events during the day are in flux,” said Matthews. “Young people may appreciate that the event is one that has been chosen by them, and that no matter what, it will occur. Parents are in control of the options, but the young person is in control over which of the two options will be completed.”
Take advantage of the ability to experience sites and events not normally accessible during the school year.
Take advantage of programs, sites or events held only during the summer months in your area. If possible, involve a child in deciding where to go or which events they prefer. What would they like to see or experience during their summer break?
“Making your child an active participant in the planning process helps him or her take ownership of your adventure,” added Matthews. “Wherever and whenever possible, have your child research the site or location you will be traveling to, as well as some interesting sites along the way.”
Keep in mind your child’s unique strengths and interests, and provide time to adjust.
Keep in mind the size of crowds, time of day and any special accommodations that might be needed. With a little bit of preparation and advanced request, staffs at many location staffs are happy to oblige and make an experience for a child the best it can be.
Getting out and about during the school break can avoid a sense of isolation. Matthews explained that parents and children diagnosed with I/DD may feel a sense of isolation during the summer months: “Parents of children with I/DD often work hard to support inclusion of their children in school activities, but, if they feel that there is a significant decrease in informal or formal supports during the summer, they may feel more alone than ever during this time of year.”
Relax and breathe.
All kids have meltdowns at one time or another. “Parents, don’t let one issue or breakdown ruin an outing or event,” said Matthews. “Make sure you keep in mind your child’s triggers and what might prompt him or her to not fully enjoy an outing.”
Ask for assistance or help in adjustments to an outing or event when you need it. “There are always alternatives that will work if Plan A doesn’t. It just takes a bit of preparation, research and planning,” assured Matthews.
The goal is to make the most of your time with your children and maximize their experiences. “Most of all, enjoy all that summer has to offer because time is fleeting and school supplies, lunch boxes and new shoes will be on the horizon before you know it,” she noted.
For more information about Monarch services visit www.MonarchNC.org or to schedule an appointment, please call (866) 272-7826.
Posted on: Sunday July 4, 2021