Embracing Summer with Children Who Need Structure

Parenting

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In our last blog, we gave a few tips for finding balance in the summer. From teaching kids about scheduling (and scheduling naps so parents have a break!) to embracing the fun and messiness of summer, balance is key. But what if you have a child or children who need a lot of structure? If you are one of these parents, you’re not alone. School and daycare provide a lot of welcome structure to most children, but it’s especially important for kids with learning and social struggles. If you’re facing a summer with a child who craves and thrives on the school structure, we have some tips for how you can make summer pleasant for all.

Schedule Almost Everything

Setting a daily schedule is a great way to start. Go ahead and schedule reading time, learning time, and special time for chores, too. You don’t have to get fancy with the schedule either. A simple chalkboard, dry erase board, or posterboard will work. Block out the time and let your child use markers, stickers, or colorful post-it notes to show completion of each task. This will also help you, as a parent, know what your child will expect and it gives you time to work or make important calls when needed.

Schedule Screen Time

One of the bigger hurdles that some children face now is screen time – computers, video games, and phones. These all count when it comes to screen time and it’s a good idea to limit it in the summer. It’s easy to fall into a habit of just letting the devices do the work, but if you are parenting a child with focus issues, then it’s important to limit screen time. Be sure and add it to the schedule you make as a family and discuss with your spouse or your child’s teacher to decide what is an suitable amount of time. Limiting screen time will keep kids in the school mindset all summer so that when it comes time to go back, it won’t be such a shock.

Keep That Schedule Going

We really mean it when we say setting a schedule is key! And it will help your family in the day-to-day all summer. This includes setting times for snacks. Our kids are used to set snack times in daycare, preschool, and grade school. So keeping that in place during the summer helps keep focus going and prevents sugar crashes and hunger-based tantrums.

You can also schedule fun times or days. This is a chance to be a bit more flexible, for either a couple of hours or an entire afternoon. Consider taking a trip to the zoo and having your kids read the plaques at each animal exhibit. Or take a trip to your local library after a swim at the community pool.

Summer is always a fun time, but remember that it’s perfectly acceptable to have a schedule to keep our families happy, too.

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