Counting the days until summer break? Most of us are! We daydream of warm, lazy days when we can play with our kids, plan day trips and generally relax from the stress of keeping tight, school-driven schedules! While days filled with sun screen and bug spray related activities are fun and certainly important, summer is also a great time to address some of those skills which may have been harder to work on with your child during the colder months or days that are filled with school, sports, hobbies, therapies, etc.
The following are 7 suggestions of skills that are great to address with your child during the summer months to ensure they are learning while also having fun in the sun!
- Toilet training: The bulk of layers and snow clothes can make toilet training more challenging. The effort that goes into learning to get dressed and undressed when only sandals, shorts and a t-shirt is far lower than when having to manipulate and adjust all those winter clothes! Additionally, if your child requires close monitoring with minimal clothing on to achieve those first few successes, summer is the best time to do this comfortably so everyone stays warm!
- Self-feeding: If you have been putting off an eating program due to not having enough time to do the programming at home or the types of food more commonly available during winter time, summer is what you have been waiting for! Summer lends itself to awesome foods for self-feeding such as watermelon, berries, corn on the cob, burgers, hot dogs, pasta salad and other easy to pick up and enjoy foods! More importantly, your child is now more available for you to teach or generalize the new foods/eating skills in your home environment.
- Playground skills: Some children are nervous to explore and enjoy playground equipment in the presence of a bunch of other running, yelling kids at recess during the school year! Summer is a fantastic time to bring your child to the school playground to slowly increase their comfort level with parts of the equipment they are capable of using. Help them to learn what things they can do independently and what things they find fun! (Hint…this will also enable you to let your child’s school team know what things your child may need support with!)
- Bedtime: If you have a challenging bedtime routine or a child who simply does not sleep well, you may have been given recommendations or even been offered support with improving this much needed behavior. Often parents are reluctant to do anything which might disturb the predictability of their child’s sleep schedule- even if it is not a good one- during the busy school year. Summer time when schedules are more flexible is a great time to follow up with some of those recommendations that may have great benefit but leave you and your child a little sleepy in the beginning when changes are made.
- Parking lot safety: Who wants to practice parking lot safety and car awareness in an icy cold lot? It is much more enjoyable to teach these important skills in the sunshine. There are a range of skills that can be practiced with your child to include looking for brake and reverse lights, identifying cross walks, looking both ways for moving cars and how to respond, etc.
- Leisure activities: As parents, if we have a lighter schedule during the summer while our children are out of school, many of us enjoy spending time, relaxing, reading, gardening or engaging in other leisure activities. These things can be challenging however; if our children don’t have independent leisure activities of their own. This is a great time to work towards teaching your child to practice activities they can engage in with independence such as bike riding, playing wall ball, blowing bubbles, sensory table play, driveway chalk, floor puzzles, swinging, etc.
- Pairing: A great way to enjoy the extra time with your child over the summer is to do activities with your child to improve your relationship with them. Pairing refers to the practice of associating yourself with all of the things your child loves to do or have. The more you hang out with them and engage in the enjoyable activities with them, the more they will associate you with the fun and enjoyment they got from those things. Your child will also be more willing to follow your directions and listen to you when they enjoy your interactions as well!
We hope you have a fantastic and safe summer full of learning and fun! For recommendations or support with any of the above mentioned ideas, contact the BCBA supporting your child.