It’s important to recognize that the shift from the school year to summer vacation, regardless how welcome, can pose some challenges for the families of the special needs children you serve. Consider creating a “Sweet Summer of Success” handout for the parents of the kids on your caseload, including some of these ideas:
Tips to Help Parents:
1. Review the summer plans you’ve made to date. Where there are gaps in the schedule, brainstorm ways to address them, such as parents rotating days off work to stay home with younger kids on unscheduled days.
2. Post the family’s summer schedule. Mark activities (day camp, vacations, your teenager’s work schedule, etc.) on a “family size” calendar posted in a central location. Be sure to note blocks of unscheduled time as well; that way, you can anticipate free time to use as you wish – even if it’s just to enjoy a break in the action.
3. Plan to be spontaneous. Create a list of places and people to visit when time permits and the mood strikes. Summer — free from homework and tutors — is a good time to stop by the science museum, bike trail, or concert-in-the-park you can’t seem to get to during the school year.
4. If you and/or your child thrive on routine, build as much of it in to your summer schedule as possible. Even so, your routine may change every week or so; find ways to prepare for these transitions. This may be as simple as mentally rehearsing the new routine (including daily wake-up time and preparation) with your child before the week begins. Don’t forget to record those changes in routine on the family calendar.
5. Ask other people (spouse, family members, and neighbors) for help shuttling kids to activities and supervising them on their “days off.” Trade carpooling and kid-watching duties with other parents in your neighborhood.