Summer is coming up fast and that means change from school routine is coming. The air is heating up, the days are longer, and kids are getting restless for summer vacation.
The thrill of summer is one of my fondest memories from childhood. But as a parent of a child with a disability, what I don’t look forward to are those final days of the school year. Not because I don't want to spend my days with my kids. I do, actually. I like having them back on my schedule and not the one school demands. But the last days of the school year create stress for my kids and are difficult for everyone.
One of the harder things is that my kids feel the excitement, but don't understand what it is about. Time is a hard thing to understand.
Like with Christmas. It took several years before they really got that it was a time of year and not a place. A place makes sense. It is solid, something they can touch. A time of year is abstract and causes confusion. It helps for me to talk with their teachers about their confusion with the concept and remind them that my children don’t do well with change. This brainstorming on how we can work together to make the transition to summer easier is good for all of us.
Then there are the set of worries that come with planning for summer activities. Some of our kids will have extended school year, but some won't qualify and we will worry about the regression that can happen over the summer break. How do you address this possible regression during the summer? You find activities for your kids that will get them busy, happy, and best of all, learning.
Look within your community for summer camps, activities, or classes. Consider an overnight camp for your child. Plan day trips when you can and go to a museum or zoo. Talk to other parents about the summer plans they have for their kids. Get together and share ideas. Maybe join with other families and make plans together. Ask your kids what would be fun and interesting for them. Involve them in the planning however you can.
Once you have your plan, communicate with your child about the things they will be doing. Tell them what their day will hold in whatever way it is easiest for them to understand. Give them time to adjust to the changes.
Finally, build flexibility into your schedule and be prepared for some things to go not quite as planned. There are going to be meltdowns and changes, so remember to breathe. It’s okay and it will pass. Each day gives us a fresh start.
Use those last weeks and days of school to plan out your summer. Get started as early as possible.
There are lots of summer activities on the Find Services, Groups, and Events section of this site.
After getting the life-changing news that we were going to be parents, Rick and I had to face the challenges of parenting a child with profound healthcare needs.
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