For many parents and kids summer means fun . . . . .and boredom. Every once in a while, everyone needs help finding constructive things to do and meaningful ways to fill those golden days of summer vacation. For kids with ADHD being able to provide meaningful activities and daily structure can be essential.
Many children and adults for that matter too, can get bored very easily. Some children and adults are much better at entertaining themselves than others. Creating a healthy structure for the long summer days is a healthy way to keep everyone happy and busy. There are a number of ways to keep kids with ADHD actively engaged during the summer doldrums. First, though, let’s look at the value of structured ‘play’ as a whole.
The Value of Play
Play is important for all of us, but for children with ADHD it is even more critical. Free play provides benefits like: improving stamina, sharpening coordination, strengthening muscles, and providing a number of other mental and social benefits. . In this interview on ABC, Dr. Renee emphasizes that “free play can stimulate right-brain thinking, improve emotional IQ, and gets children thinking outside of the box.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHPlPU3Ex-8
With sports, games, and make-believe free play, children are learning ways to feel and express emotion, developing valuable social skills like getting along with others, and problem solving. In addition, spending time outdoors has proven benefits for children with ADHD. Spending time on a tree-lined street, in a park, or just out in the backyard helps kids with ADHD feel much more focused than kids who spend hours on the computer or on an asphalt playscape.
Suggestions for Summer Success for Kids with ADHD:
• Plan in advance. All children and, particularly, children with attention difficulties often have a need to know what is on the calendar. Many children thrive with and hour-by-hour schedule. When kids know what they will be doing, they are able to relax and focus better.
• Play to the child’s strengths. Doing things kids are good at and enjoy is an excellent way to build resilience and self-esteem. When the activities chosen are just challenging enough, it allows kids to stretch their brains and body in a way that builds healthy self-esteem.
More ideas for Summer Fun:
• Local Recreation Centers – Find out what sports, games, and activities are available that kids may not have the time or opportunity to participate in during the school year. Contact your local rec center to learn more about programs and times.
• Arts and Crafts – Take a trip to any local hobby or craft store and let your child select an age-appropriate craft to work on. This is time to spend together and helps build social skills. Plan the trip and set a time and money limit for success. Brainstorm together what might be purchased during this expedition.
• Nature Trails – A planned hike and picnic is an excellent way to spend some quality family time together, burn off some energy, and soak up the natural beauty of any local park. Many state and local parks have special summer programs for kids, so it’s worth looking into what may be available.
• Volunteering – Getting kids involved by volunteering at a local residential center or nursing home is a way to spend time together and learn how to give back. Not only will this activity keep kids busy, but it enhances self-esteem greatly because they are doing something for other people.
The two key elements of having a successful summer with your ADHD child are staying focused and staying busy. By using activities which play to your child’s strengths, it is easy to find busy and focused fun activities. Summer is an ideal time for all families to work on lifestyle skills. With a little ingenuity and forethought, summer can be a relaxing time – even for families and kids with ADHD.