Recommended Resources

Saturday, 7 August 2010

End of Summer Activities to Prepare for the School Year

The start of the school year is an exciting time but the transition back to school can be stressful for many children. Help children prepare for the new school year with these helpful strategies.
1. Review Skills and Goals – Review school reports and goals and document progress towards goals. If teachers and therapists provided activities or ideas to address skills, take the time to focus on these prior to school starting. Even small reminders about skills can help prepare children for addressing these in the classroom.
2. Take Advantage of Natural Learning Opportunities - Use natural opportunities to address a wide range of skills such as asking a child to help count silverware while setting the table (counting skills) or asking them to read directions while cooking (reading skills). By keeping a child’s goals top of mind, natural learning opportunities can be easily identified.
3. Use a Calendar for Visual Reminders – Many children benefit from visuals. Mark important events leading up to the start of school on the calendar. Examples of activities to put on the calendar are the first day of school, shopping for school clothes, and buying school materials. Discuss how many days are left until each event and have children participate in planning by helping write shopping lists and decide where to shop.
4. Return to a Schedule – Summer breaks often are not very structured. Start getting back into a routine so children are more prepared for the school year schedule. Sleeping, eating, brushing teeth, bathing, and bedtime rituals are examples of activities typically scheduled at set times in a child’s routine. Work on a
consistent schedule to help transition back to school.
5. Use Art and Literature - Have children draw, make collages, or
paint things they remember about the previous school year. Have
them write about or discuss what things they like about school and
what they are looking forward to in the new school year. Use these
memories as visuals to discuss returning to school.
6. Play with Friends from School – Some children regularly see classmates over the summer while others only see school friends during the school year. Schedule play dates or host a classroom party to help children become re-acquainted with each other.
7. Enjoy the Rest of the Break – Although planning for the school year is important, make the most of the last few days of summer. Create lasting memories by going on picnics, attending community events, and taking advantage of extra family time. Take pictures to remind children of summer experiences and create a ‘Summer Memory’ book to encourage communication and language. This is a perfect item for show and tell at the start of the school year.

Activities for Summer Break

Summer is a much needed break for many children and families. Make the most of summer by helping children have fun while learning new things. The ideas below are for children of all ages and include suggestions for both the home and the community.
1. Enjoy the Weather – Many communities have swimming lessons, group sports, or one-day neighborhood events. Encourage children to participate in these activities so they make new friends, learn new sports, and stay healthy. If children are ambivalent about trying something new, let them join with a friend. Children may be more interested in an activity if one of their friends is on their team or in their swimming group.
Doing outdoor activities is a great way to spend quality time with your children and show the importance of physical fitness. Make evening walks or bike rides part of your routine. Besides doing physical activities outdoors, learn to simply enjoy the nice weather by having picnics or sitting outside to read or have a snack.
2. Explore Creative Opportunities – There are many free websites with printable games, coloring pages, and ideas for simple art activities. These easy and free resources are fun for children. To locate activities, search the internet using keywords like ‘children’s art activities’ or ‘children and art’. Additionally, many art supply stores, arts centers, children’s museums, and home improvement stores offer free or low-cost one day clinics. The classes usually appeal to children of a wide age range and are offered on a regular basis. Don’t forget to check activities in your community center. Many community centers offer singing, acting, or music classes to help children of all ages explore their creative side.
3. Invite Friends to Play – Plan play dates for children. Besides having fun while playing, children develop important social skills by spending time together. When planning a play date, have a variety of fun games and activities handy to encourage children to interact instead of watching television. Rain or very hot weather can prevent children from playing outside so be sure to have board games, cards, and other indoor activities handy in case they can not go outside. Simple games are not only fun for children, but they teach important skills such as turn taking, sharing, problem solving, and conflict resolution.
4. Complete Projects Together – Projects such as planting a garden, planning a summer party, or researching ideas for the family vacation are exciting summer activities. Include children in your projects to teach them time management, responsibility, and life skills. If you are planting a garden, children can learn about plants, water them regularly, and pick fruits and vegetables. If you are planning a party, kids can help make invitations, plan the menu, or prepare the food. If you are planning a family vacation, show children guide books and maps and let them help plan different events for the vacation. Children like to spend time with adults and work with them on projects. These activities will engage children and teach them valuable skills while giving you a little extra help.
5. Read More – Encourage reading for enjoyment by including reading activities in your routine. Local libraries often have story time for preschoolers and a variety of other learning activities for elementary aged children. If your local library does not have these programs, have fun at the library by browsing and checking out books with your children. Also, check your local book stores for children’s program. They
frequently have similar story times and fun programs.