A network to share best practices for children with special needs
It is Summertime and the Livin’ is Easy….Fish are Jumpin’ and the Cotton is High!
Hello. My name is Pam Brogdon and I am your new blogger! I cannot tell you how excited I am to be joining this blogging team of experts! What a great way to share information about children and their needs (All children have needs, not just our children with special needs). I want you to view this blog with confidence…..confidence that your questions/comments will be answered with substantiated facts and information. If I don’t have the facts and information, I promise you that I will get it from reliable experts. There is no question too insignificant! I will value your comments and information that you share with those of us on the blog! I look forward to growing in knowledge and friendship with all of you. Do not ever to hesitate to contact me! Now, let’s get started!
“It is Summertime! School is Out! Whoo Hoo!! ”
I am confident that is the reaction of children and parents alike on the last day of school. By the time warm weather gets here, everyone is ready for a break from daily routines of school and after-school activities AND homework. Just the thought of not hurriedly telling your child, “ to swallow your breakfast, and let’s go”, while gulping your coffee as you are running for the door, sounds like Utopia! Summertime is a time of re-energizing, relaxing and reconnecting. Often the days are unstructured for your child, and that is a welcomed change. BUT (you just knew there was a “But” coming, didn’t you?), summertime is a time when learning can be less formalized, but it should NEVER stop, especially if your child has challenges. I always tell parents that summer is the perfect opportunity for “our” children to make academic gains. Time is not being divided between school and homework! If our children continue fun, but educational activities during their time out of school, they will make academic gains, or at least not regress significantly. So, let’s talk about some activities that your child can do over the summer break that will not only, motivate, but also,encourage academic achievement.
The first and most important thing is to always Provide structure in the day. If your child has special needs, I do not need to tell you that he/she functions much better when there is structure. That really is true for all of us, isn’t it? I am not suggesting a rigid schedule to follow every minute of the day and night, but I do suggest having some order to the day. I am confident many of you are familiar with visual schedules. They are an easy way to provide your child with regular cues about their daily activities…even in the summer. They allow your child to anticipate what will happen next by providing him/her with an overall view of the day. The consistency provided by a visual schedule is crucial in establishing an atmosphere of stability and calmness during the summer. They can also provide motivation to complete a less preferred activity, such as a household chore like taking out the trash, knowing a fun activity is to follow, such as riding his/her bike!
Creative ideas for creating the perfect schedule: It can be a fun activity for you and your child to design and make a visual schedule for summer!
For younger children, make a visual schedule using photographs of him/her performing the activity, or your child can draw and color the activities in the order in which they are to occur. For older children, the activities can be written (by the child) in the appropriate order in which they are to occur. The sentences can be cut apart so they can be attached, then removed, from the schedule when the activity is completed. Another option would be to draw a line through it. Pictures should have Velcro on the back so they can be removed after the activity. A large poster board or a manila folder can be used to display the pictures or sentences. An envelope can be attached at the bottom of the poster or on the back of the folder in which the completed activities can be stored. Various visual representation systems can be used for an individual visual schedule including: Real objects, Photographs (e.g., "Picture This" software program or own photos); Realistic drawings; Commercial picture system (e.g., "Boardmaker" software program); or a Written words/lists. Abilitations catalog has many resources for a visual schedule.
To get started, discuss with your child the first thing that needs to be done when he/she gets out of bed in the morning. For example, if the bed should be made as soon as he/she gets up, then the first picture (or sentence) should be of him/her making the bed. If breakfast is next, that should be the next picture (or sentence). If your child is participating in Extended School Year, that will be one of the activities on the summer visual schedule. Be sure and allow time for relaxation and fun! If your child enjoys a particular activity, make sure you include those activities! This helps give order to the day as well as teach organizational skills. Be sure to include things that your child wants to do! This should be done together at a time that is not stressful. Let him/her be responsible for keeping up and removing the completed activities!
You can also purchase a “What’s Next? Bag from Abilitations. It is very portable!
Good News! There are great apps for visual schedules, too! A good one is “First Then Visual Schedule” by Good Karma Applications, Inc.
I will be offering different activities each week. The activities will be fun for your child. I bet you have lots of activities to share. I would love to hear your ideas! Together, we can make this not only a fun, relaxing summer, but especially, one in which your child makes gains, without even realizing it! Now is the time because you do not have to compete with homework, tests, etc. YOU play an essential role in encouraging learning during the summer for your challenged learner!
Have a great week! Let me hear from you with your suggestions and questions! If you have a particular topic that you would like to learn more about or have questions, send them to me. I will make sure you get a correct and relevant answer! I look forward to hearing from you and us sharing ideas and information each week!