Summer vacation might sound blissful after a packed school year, especially if your child struggles with academics or doesn’t enjoy the daily pressures of the classroom. Unfortunately, all that freedom can be overwhelming to many kids, and those with learning disabilities often have trouble making a smooth transition out of the school routine and into the new reality of life on summer vacation.
If you’ve noticed that your child’s behavior is getting worse as vacation approaches, it might be more than just spring fever. Many children start to act out as the school year draws to a close because they feel unsettled by the changes that are coming. Here’s how you can help your child through the transition:
Even though your child may complain about the afternoon routine of homework, dinner and bathing, doing away with it completely once school ends can cause big problems. Kids rely on steady routines as a way to feel safe, and knowing what to expect helps them build confidence. Do your best to keep a regular bedtime during the summer, even if it’s an hour later than normal. Likewise, maintaining regular meal times will help give shape to the day and keep your child in good health, both mental and physical.
Provide Clear Expectations
You might relax a few rules during the summer, but be clear and consistent about your expectations for behavior. If you plan to extend bedtime or allow for a little more screen time, talk to your child about what the new rules look like, and make sure you’re clear about when they will change back for the new school year. Once your child knows what’s expected, it’s up to you to consistently enforce your standards — even if you don’t feel like it on a hot, muggy day.
Stay in Touch With Friends
If your child struggles socially, summer can be a lonely time. It’s easy to assume your child is having fun, but she may need your help setting up playdates or learning to call friends for a chat. Support your child by suggesting a "Sunday fun day" and inviting a friend on a family outing each week or making sure your child has a regular social event to look forward to.
It’s easy to feel like you’re being strict when you enforce the rules over summer vacation, but having clear expectation about behavior and sticking to a schedule will actually help your child feel secure. When your child knows what to expect, he’ll be comfortable and able to enjoy his time off instead of worrying or acting out. This, in turn, will allow you to make wonderful memories together as a family.