For many families, summer means a change in routine and a time of relaxing with friends and relatives. For students, summer translates into no homework and not having to sit in a classroom all day long. Summer, however, should not mean an absence of learning. Here are a few tips to maintain life skills throughout the summer so that your child returns to school in the fall with strong self-care skills, organization skills, and other life skills that can be practiced outside the classroom.
- Library Card – Have your child apply for a library card at your public library. This means that he/she will need to approach the librarian, fill out paperwork and use communication skills.
- Organizing a Bedroom or Closet – Rainy days lead to comments such as, “I’m bored!” Organizing a bedroom or closet can help students makes decisions and take control of their surroundings.
- Garage Sale – Yard sales or garage sales can help with communication skills, organization skills, and math skills for budgeting and pricing of items.
- Planning a Trip – Summer is a great time to plan a trip to a favorite location or museum. Planning takes mapping skills, money skills and time management skills.
- Overnight or Camping Skills – Planning and executing an overnight trip means packing, self-care activities and lots of communication skills.
- Shopping Trips – These types of excursions can help your child practice many skills including planning a shopping list, working with money and dealing with the public including cashiers.
- Dining Out – Practice life skills at a local restaurant where your child can order, dine and help deal with the bills.
- BBQ or Picnic – Planning for family or friends to come over means working with a menu,. setting a table and talking to friends.
“Summer slide” is the tendency for students to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year. This can include social skills, reading skills, math facts, or other areas of learning loss. This loss of academic and social skills can be curtailed by following some advice from educators, therapists and scholars. Here are ten tips to avoid the summer slide this year.
- Read every day either with or to your child. Check out summer reading programs at your local library and encourage your child to read anything including magazines, comics, novels etc.
- Audio books on long road trips can keep children interested in literature as well as expand their vocabulary.
- Journaling – Ask your children to write a daily journal of all of the things that they learn each day. This will help with writing and organization skills.
- Social Skills – Arrange play dates or excursions to practice social skills.
- Summer Enrichment – Fill in learning gaps by visiting museums, historical locations, and other locations that can expand your child’s knowledge.
- Math Facts – It may seem like a drag to your child, but practice math facts and other math problems regularly throughout the course of the summer.
- Turn the Mundane into Learning – A trip to the grocery store, cooking or other daily chores can be learning experiences that include reasoning, math and social skills.
- Quality Camps – Try researching summer camps that will challenge your child. Many camps provide opportunities to expand their minds and sharpen their critical thinking skills.
- Use Technology – There are copious amounts of apps that can be used on mobile devices to sharpen skills that are easy to navigate and can be a lifesaver on road trips.
- Have Fun! Camps, reading and science experiments can be fun if you do it right. Make sure you are having fun with your child this summer.
Summer vacation is almost here and most of us are dreaming of a relaxing getaway to unwind from our busy, stressful lives. Maybe your dream includes the beach or the mountains. Regardless of where you want to go , a lot of planning is required. Planning a vacation with children can be daunting, but planning a vacation with a child with special needs requires advanced organization and research into the venue and the travel method. While many parents with autistic children (or children on the spectrum) avoid travel and vacationing away from the comfort and routine that their child has become accustomed, but traveling with kids who have autism is possible and doesn’t have to be disastrous. Here are a few tips and resources to help you plan your next vacation.
- Choose a destination that matches your child’s personality – Vacations mean a new location, change and transitions. None of these things come easily for children on the spectrum. Therefore, choose a location that matches your child. Does your child love to swim and be in the sun? The beach may be the best solution. Does your child enjoy action like rides and games? Maybe an amusement park or gaming area might be a good idea. Does your child enjoy being outdoors? Hiking and camping might be a good fit. You know your child the best so choose wisely.
- Make arrangements ahead of time – Many hotels, airlines, restaurants, and amusement parks can help you make special arrangements to make your trip easier. These places are often amenable to the needs of children with autism. For example, in 2011, Logan Airport in Boston hosted a free rehearsal flying experience, called Wings for Autism, for children with autism and their families so that personnel can better understand the community. (Source: Parents Magazine)
- Practice and Prepare – Discuss what will happen during the vacation. Many Books can help you prepare with your child.
Suzie Goes on an Aeroplane by Charlotte Olson is an excellent book to help your child what happens at an airport.
Traveling Tips for Families with an Autistic Child by Chantal Sicile-Kira
3 Things to Know Before you Close your Suitcase: Preparing for Traveling
with a Child with Autism by Earl J. Campazzi, Jr, MD, MPH
Starbrite Traveler: A Travel Resource for Parents of Children with Special Needs by Jessemine Jones and Ida Keiper
USA Today: Flying can be a rough ride for autistic children, families
NY Times: Bypassing the Roadblocks of Autism
Taking the Kids When They Have Autism
While the summer slide may sound like a great backyard activity in the hot weather, it actually is referring to a phenomenon common in school age children. Summer slide is, in fact, a term used to describe the learning loss that occurs over the summer months due to a lack of educational engagement. According to extensive studies completed by Johns Hopkins University and teacher organizations including Teacher Notebook, students can lose more than two months reading achievement and lose ground in other valuable skills needed for the next school year.
Milestones combats the summer slide by offering a six week summer session. Starting right after the Fourth of July break, students in the lower and upper school can take part in project -based classes. To prevent regression of skills, the elementary and middle school students work on skills in fun elective classes, swimming lessons and “Fun Fridays.” The high school students focus on theme based weeks with speakers and field trips to showcase main ideas and skills. All students get to enjoy field trips and BBQ activities! Stay tuned for more information on our summer offerings.
There are a number of ways that parents can also assist in stopping the summer slide. One of the largest ways is to continually read with your child. Make it a habit to read daily either together or during sustained silent reading times. If at all possible write in a journal about what was read. Students can react to the main character or the events of the book in a personal and fun way to keep up with writing skills. To practice math skills and social skills, have children accompany you on shopping trips. Make a budget and shop accordingly. Make academic skills a part of your daily activities to show your child how these skills will benefit them later in life.
Resources – Here are a few resources with hundreds of fun ideas to keep your child busy this summer while helping them avoid the dreaded summer slide.
The Department of Education – List of summer activities to maintain academic and social skills throughout the summer.
Parents Magazine – A great daily idea list for reading.
“Avoiding the Summer Slide” – Included on this page are activities, worksheets and ideas for maintaining academic skills all summer in many different areas including math, science, reading, and social studies. .