By Cinda Holloway
Special to GUIDON
Schools out for summer! So why is my world in chaos?
One would think a relaxed schedule or no schedule would be preferred. In actuality, for lots of children (and some adults) — schedules, structure and knowing what is going to happen equals a sense of security and a feeling of well-being. This is especially true when a child has a processing disorder, attention distraction or a special need. It is the change in schedule, the not knowing what comes next or “what am I supposed to do with myself?” that creates havoc in the lives of both adults and young children.
As the adult, we are generally adept to combine schedules and structure in a manner to promote security, decrease education regression and of course fun.
Below are some suggestions to accomplish this:
Look at what activities are being considered for the summer months, including vacations, summer school, childcare, camps, outings, etc.
Make a calendar that shows these events so that all family members can, anticipate and become comfortable with the upcoming schedule. Have children add activities to the calendar – you might be surprised what they are thinking. This also helps prevent the dreaded statement of “I’m bored, there is nothing to do.”
Often schedules are thought of as “time” vs. “activity.” With summer, the “time” factor may not be as important as the “task” or “activity.” A schedule provides information, expectation and a sense of control. Making a list of daily tasks or expectations can ease both the parent and the child’s daily plan. A schedule is a means to teach both responsibility and time management. Do not forget to schedule in a little fun.
Some of the “extras” take money that may not be in the daily budget. Look at year passes instead of a day pass if you plan to participate in the activity more than once or twice. For example, the initial cost may be a little higher to purchase a swim pass for the year paying $50 compared to paying for a day pass which is only $2 but you anticipate you will be taking your children to swim at least three or four times a week, in 12 weeks that’s at least $72.
School like activities at home
Reading for “fun” rather than assigned continues the progression of reading skills. Even reading for 30 minutes a day — builds skills. Math facts are always more fun when done in a game, video or activity format. There are lots of web-based programs (a lot of them are free) or the school may provide access to their programs. Reading and learning at home allows the child with slower processing to grasp the material without the stress of class constraints or peer scrutiny.
This is a time of year that many children (and adults) settle in on the couch for TV, video games. While some of this is refreshing, the body needs activity to expend energy, gain muscle mass and improve eating and sleeping. Plan active events such as swimming, hiking, bowling, golfing, fishing, the outdoor list can be endless.
A few minutes of planning can reduce anxiety for both parents and children. It is also possible with planning to get more out of a day than without. Planning can reduce disappointment if the wanted activities are not available. Make the most out of the summer – recharge your life batteries, promote security, learning, and most importantly have fun with your children.
(Editor’s note: Holloway is the Exceptional Family Member Program manager at Army Community Service.)