Summer is here! Now that the kids are out of school, many parents are worried about the loss of academic knowledge that happens during the summer break. For children with special needs, summer loss is usually more significant than for typical students.
You can enroll your child in ESY (extended school year) programs and special summer camps but in many cases a program or summer camp that fits your child’s needs and your budget can be really hard to find. But there is no need to worry, there are many things that you can do to keep your child’s mind and body active and prevent summer loss.
Make a list of the skills you would like your child to work on. Include self help and independent living skills, social interaction and working on academic subjects and skills, especially those that your child struggles with. Think of different fun activities, day trips or family vacations and how you can incorporate learning into them.
Make a calendar & schedule
Create a calendar where you can put all of the special weekly activities and trips. This will give your child something to look forward to, help him get ready for changes like traveling and it will teach him about temporal concepts. Create a daily routine and make a visual schedule to put where everyone can see it. Having a routine will let your children know what to expect and it can help him deal with transitions better. Plan time for engaging in learning activities as well as exercise.
Keep therapies going
Many children receive therapy in school as part of their Individual Educational Plan. Keep your children working on those important skills like by enrolling them in summer therapy programs or in activities that will work on similar skills. During the school year, my daughter gets home at 3:30pm, then there’s homework to do. By the time she is done with that, there is no time left for enrolling her in classes. Summer has many options when it comes to classes and most of them will accommodate a child with special needs. Dance or special equestrians can take the place of Physical Therapy. Painting, pottery and even cooking will improve your child’s fine motor skills. Writing to a pen pal can be a fun way to work on writing, reading and social skills all at the same time. Also, your child learns about life in another country. Computer games or educational apps on an iPad or cell phone can help your child work on many different skills in a fun and engaging way.
Turn everyday life into a learning experience
Once you know what skills you want to work on, be creative and turn everyday chores and errands into a learning experience. Involve your child in some of the decision-making and make the activities fun. You can teach him colors while he helps you sort clothes for washing. You can teach important independence skills by having him pick his clothes in the morning and dress all by himself. While cooking, you can work on measurements, following instructions and reading. You can teach him about nature and plan fun activities to keep him moving while you work in the yard. A trip to the supermarket can also turn into a learning experience. Here, he can learn about everything from colors and names of fruits and vegetables to math skills.
Motivate your child to explore and discover
Spending time outdoors can provide sensory input and new experiences as well as countless opportunities to learn. Use those things that your child likes to motivate him to learn more about a subject. Involve your child in planning by giving him choices of activities, games and trips. Give him options that have educational value, will teach him a skill or will keep him active.
Creative Commons-licensed photo provided by Ka Linin.
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