By Executive Director of Special Education, Tamara Jackson
All children benefit from structure, but it can be especially true for our students with special needs. Children don’t always know how to use leisure time effectively, so in order to keep your cool you will have to plan ahead.
Summer can be hard to manage. Parents have to find the right summer enrichment program or camp program. If your student has an IEP and is eligible for Extended School Year (ESY), you may have to coordinate their schedule with the Assistance League or the La Canada Educational Foundation courses. At the end of this article I have a few cool resources for summer fun! Once you know the summer schedule review it with your child. On “free days” it is best to still provide structure. Having a set time to wake up and a set bed time helps children develop good sleep hygiene. Remember, teenagers actually need more sleep than younger children.
Try to keep isolated play and screen time (video games, computer, TV) to a minimum. Consider a behavior system where the child earns time to engage in these activities. Remember, it can be challenging to wean children off excessive screen time when school starts back. If your child is really into “Tech,” consider some academic computer time in exchange for game-playing. There are a lot of fun “academic” games. Ask your student’s teacher(s) for a few ideas.