School’s Out for Summer! Well, not quite yet, but it is coming, and quickly. This time of year is full of mixed emotions, and dysregulation for many of our children. School days that used to provide routine and predictability are now filled with substitute teachers due to meetings, extra “fun” activities instead of Math class, and talk of new classrooms and teachers. Add to that to zinging electricity of excitement when you step into the school building that emanates from students and staff like, it’s a perfect recipe for dysregulation and sensory overload.
So, my challenge to you this month is a connecting activity.
Gather up these supplies:
watercolors and brush, cup of water, and paper
Sit down with your child at your favorite spot and begin to paint your favorite things about the 2017-18 school year. You should be creating together on the same paper as they talk or each doing your own, but you as caregiver must be painting also. Engage your child with open-ended questions to help them reflect on the year. Allow them the opportunity to ask questions about the summer and next school year. What will be the same and what will be different? Give your child the opportunity to say goodbye and grieve what will be lost. Perhaps this is a classroom pet, a beloved teacher, or simply the routine that they have come to rely on.
When you have completed your painting (and talk), make a plan for summer. What activities do you want to do together? Are there any special places you want to be sure to visit? Summer can be a time of freedom and wonderment, but with that freedom also comes a lack of predictability. We know that for many of our children this can lead to a need for control of their environment which is communicated through undesired behavior. Give your child a voice in planning for the summer. Perhaps Disney World isn’t realistic, but could you head to the Disney Store and then take some character friends for a picnic? Be sure to give choices and compromises in your planning. I encourage families to schedule these special activities on your calendars and in your planners so that they don’t get washed away in the hectic pace of summer fun.
I also encourage parents to monitor their children and plan ahead. Ensure that there are snacks and water not just available, but offered. Children will say no when asked if they want a drink, but are more likely to accept it when physically offered. Also, plan for rest and decompression time away from the high energy and sensory overloading activities.
What are your plans for a connecting summer together? Let us know in the comments.