When school's out for the summer, kids are excited to get some freedom and a new routine. However, for kids with learning or behavioral challenges, the transition to summer can be tough. Spending the days and hours differently can make for a difficult transition, and it's easy to get overwhelmed or feel lost.
If you're the parent of a kid with a behavioral or learning challenge, here are some tips for surviving the transition from school to summer. By keeping some of these in mind, you can minimize stress and make sure the experience is as easy and enjoyable as possible for everyone involved.
Keep a Routine
Although your kid will no longer be going from home to school and back every day, try to keep most of his routine the same. This means that you should still wake up at the same time each day, bathe and eat breakfast at the same time, and keep the same bedtime. Keeping a routine gives kids a sense of stability and makes sure they know what to expect. By minimizing the unexpected, you can help kids build confidence and limit anxiety as they go throughout their day.
Create Learning Opportunities for the Summer Days
If your child is not enrolled in a camp or summer program that starts right away, don't just spend the days at home or doing nothing. Instead, create educational opportunities for your child during the daytime that will engage and stimulate their minds. Your child can continue to learn and grow during the summer, and you can mimic the feeling of an organized school day by planning well-thought-out activities.
Talk Over the Schedule
If your child does not handle transitions well or is nervous about the change of schedule, then spend some time talking over the schedule. Talk about what the days will look and feel like, as well as when different activities will happen. Do this a few weeks before the school year actually ends so it's not a shock or a surprise when it arrives. If your child is a visual learner, then create a wall calendar that shows the schedule for each day. That way, your child can refer to the calendar on the wall and know what they can expect in the days to come.
Stick to a Behavioral System
If your child has behavioral challenges, there's a good chance that he follows a behavioral system at school. Systems like these reward good behavior and discourage bad behavior. Learn the system that your child uses at school and implement it at home to help maintain guidelines and encouragement for good behavior. Alternatively, if you have a behavioral system at home, make sure that you stick to it throughout the transition. This will help reinforce important and beneficial behavioral lessons whether your child is in school or not.
Give Your Child Some Time
Ultimately, the transition from school to summer can be an adjustment for everyone -- even kids without any learning or behavioral challenges. Give your kids some time to adjust to the change and talk through their anxieties or struggles to help understand what they're going through. While the first few days or weeks might be tough, with some patience and understanding, the summer will get easier and your child will be enjoying his new routine in no time.