ADHD and summer break might at first seem like a recipe for disaster. As a parent, you want your child with ADHD to enjoy the summer months. At the same time, though, you want to keep some level of sanity yourself.
The summer months for kids can bring hours of playing outside with friends, video games, junk food, and staying up late. While all these things can be fun, some of these things aren’t the best for maintaining a comprehensive ADHD treatment plan. To best help your child and your own sanity during the summer months, build out a plan before summer hits to help keep a healthy balance between having fun and keeping a management plan in place.
If planned well, ADHD and summer break can provide a time to grow in your child’s ADHD management. In this post, we’ve outlined 6 critical strategies to help make the most of your child’s ADHD and summer break. Try taking some of these tips and putting them into place to have a positive impact while school’s out.
#1 Set a Summer Routine
During the school year, your child has structure provided by the classroom. This structure provides crucial help for your child’s ADHD management. Also, school provides you as the parent help through teachers and administrators that won’t be there during the summer.
What to do when your school routine ends
What can you do then when the school routine and structure end then? Primarily, you need to replace it with structure of your own. To begin our list of ADHD and summer break strategies, let’s start with the most important: create a summer routine.
Having an ADHD daily routine makes a big difference in effective ADHD management. Still, creating and implementing a summer routine can present challenges. After all, you have to replace the school routine, where again, teachers and others do most of the work for you.
This idea shouldn’t discourage you, though. Remember, you’re not alone in figuring this out, many others have gone before you and have provided resources for you to follow.
Build a summer routine off of your school year routine
The best place to begin with developing a routine for summer break is building off or your regular routine for the school year. Again, obviously some things must change such as going to school and coming home. Still you can keep the overall structure while changing out the pieces.
This might look like having mealtimes at generally the same time as well as trying to maintain afternoon activities. Instead of school, in the morning, you can have your child go to the library or a summer program. At night, instead of having homework time, try replacing assigned homework with open learning time where your children work on a project they pick.
Making a summer routine doesn’t have to require hours of planning. Building a routine requires some effort and forethought, but don’t let it stress you out. If you find yourself at a loss for ideas to include in your routine utilize online resources for suggestions. For some ideas on building a summer routine check out the advice in this article or the tips at this link.
#2 Have Summer Responsibilities
A second piece of advice for your ADHD and summer break involves making sure you give your children responsibilities. This advice follows long with building a summer routine, as part of your child’s daily routine should involve responsibilities. You kids might roll their eyes at the mention of responsibilities, but they are unavoidable.
We all have responsibilities. They are a part of life. Making sure your child has them during summer break just helps them stay accountable and learn dependability. Both traits will help your child when they return to school as well as later in life.
Remember: responsibilities provide benefits
Most importantly, you need to keep in mind that responsibilities provide many benefits. Responsibilities help provide structure. They teach lessons such as the value of hard work and how to follow directions and follow through on tasks. Finally, responsibilities provide valuable skills such as building memory functions and organizational ability.
To help build responsibility into your kid’s summer break, try thinking of some out of the box ideas. One creative way to give responsibility might be to encourage your kids to start their own business. A good summer time business idea might look like a lemonade stand or providing a neighborhood lawn care service.
Simpler responsibility assignments could involve a simple list of daily or weekly chores. If your kids stay at home during the day, provide them a list of four or five things to get done throughout the day.
Work to have them take ownership of something specific around the house or yard. Work with them to have them best design a plan to undertake the assigned tasks and complete their chores. If you need some ideas for good household chores, refer to this article on the best chores for ADHD children. Other ideas for teaching responsibilities can be found at this link which includes some responsibility challenges.
#3 Keep Learning
In addition to having summer responsibilities, you also want to make sure your child keeps learning. This piece of ADHD and summer break advice aims to keep your child in learning mode while away from school. In this way, you can make it so that when returning to school in the fall, you have limited summer learning loss from the previous school year.
Additionally, not only do you want to limit learning loss, you also want to teach your kids that learning is a part of everyday life. After all, just like responsibilities, we all need to learn throughout all of our lives. Whether it is learning a new skill or trade or the latest technology or gadget, we never stop learning.
Help your kids learn to enjoy learning
Keeping this in mind, you want to teach your kids during summer break to enjoy learning. Use the summer months to encourage your kids towards independent learning. While school can turn a lot of kids off of learning, the cause might lie more in the method and subjects as opposed to the idea of learning as a whole.
During the summer months, focus on the idea of learning for just the fun of it without any other objective. This could look like taking your kids to the library for one or two hours and telling them to find a book or activity they want to engage with. Alternatively, this could involve spending a day at the museum and letting your kids direct the course of your tour.
Also, you should work to encourage your child to learn in new ways they might enjoy more. Kids with ADHD typically have trouble learning in “traditional” classroom ways. Additionally, many kids with ADHD thrive in creative fields. As a result, you should work to encourage creativity in their learning process.
#4 Consider Summer Camps or Programs
While your kids get a break from school, more than likely, you don’t get a summer break from work. This most likely means that your children stay at home while you go to work. To help you out when you can’t be present, consider enrolling your child into a summer camp or program.
As part of good advice for ADHD and summer break, you might want to look into overnight camps or local day programs you can enroll in. Many cities and communities even provide specific programs for kids with ADHD.
These types of camps provide excellent opportunities for your kids to get out of the house, to interact with other kids with ADHD, and to have supervision by adults trained to manage ADHD symptoms.
Summer camps and programs in general can make a positive difference in your child’s summer breaks. Many times, after your kids start with a new program, they won’t want to leave. To find these opportunities around you, you might check first with your child’s school or local library.
Other opportunities might be found online or through your community or city’s website. If you want more help with identifying summer camps or programs for kids with ADHD check out the tips at this link.
#5 Get Involved in Summer Community Events
Outside of summer programs, another way to make the most of your ADHD and summer break is through getting involved in community events. Community events provide an excellent way to get your kids active while also working on their social interactions. As we’ve discussed before, many children with ADHD struggle with social skills.
Community events help to broaden social engagement
One way to overcome some of these social difficulties is to broaden your child’s social engagement through community events. The more exposure your children have to different social environments, the more they learn how to interact with others well.
The classroom provides social engagement, but the classroom gives little variety to the types of people your child interacts with. Use the opportunity of additional time during the summer to expose your child to as many social settings as possible.
Be creative when looking for community events
Summer community events might include community volunteer clean-up projects or community fundraisers. You might check and see if your neighborhood puts on any type of summer fair or farmer’s market. Alternatively, you might find summer sports leagues or acting or dance opportunities. If you have trouble finding events already going, you even can work to organize new community activities yourself.
To find more opportunities, check with your prominent community partners such as libraries, churches, and civic organizations. Many times these groups provide information on things going on in the community on their websites or in person.
Another benefit of community events is that many times these activities are free or very inexpensive. They might not provide the thrills of a summer blockbuster movie, but they can provide so much more. For some ideas on free community events check out the ideas in this article.
Make the most of what your community has to offer. You will provide your kids a chance to get out of the house and help improve their social aptitude at the same time.
#6 Plan Your Vacation Trips Well in Advance
As part of summer break, everyone looks forward to the vacation trip. To make sure you get the most out of your vacation, you need to put a lot of effort into planning your trip in advance.
This not only can save you money, it can also save you time and stress later. After all, of everything during summer, you want to make sure you and your kids can enjoy your vacation trip to the fullest.
Planning any type of trip for a family can present challenges. Add in the additional complexity of ADHD, and you have a recipe for disaster if not done correctly. ADHD and summer break can fall apart quickly if not enough care goes into your vacation planning.
Start planning early
To make the most of your vacation, you should start planning before the summer months even begin. Pick out your travel dates and destination several months in advance and go ahead and nail down plane tickets and hotel stays. Nothing can sink travel plans faster than getting somewhere and not having anywhere to stay.
After booking your plane and hotel, sit down at least one month in advance and set down a schedule for each and every day. Plan out when you plan to get the kids up, when you plan to eat, where you will go each day, and when you will go to bed each night. Try to make your schedule, especially eating and sleeping, as close to regular as possible.
Make a detailed packing list
After your schedule, at least two weeks before leaving, lay out your packing list. Make sure you plan to take plenty of snack food, if needed, medications for ADHD, and anything else you and your children use and need on a regular basis.
For a more complete vacation travel list, check out our post on essential ADHD vacation advice. In that article, we break down in more detail exactly what to look out and plan for with your next vacation trip. Whatever you do with your family vacation trip, just be sure you don’t wait until the last minute to plan it out.
Make the Most of your ADHD and Summer Break Plans
Overall, summer break should be a fun and relaxing time. Many times we lose track of this because we end up being so busy. While having a full calendar might be part of summer, it doesn’t mean that you still can’t make the most of your ADHD and summer break plans.
To make summer a success, focus on making and implementing a plan well before the last day of school. Build out a new routine for the summer months, and try to stick to it when the summer starts.
Keeping kids busy during the summer seems challenging enough. Ideally, though, you want to do more than just keep kids busy. You want to engage them and provide them more opportunities to learn and build positive rhythms in their lives.
For more ideas on summer engagement, check out other resources online and in print. Make an effort to look for age-appropriate activities specific for your children. For more summer ideas for teens you can check out this link.
With enough planning and forethought, you can make sure that you and your kids have a summer to remember this year.