Encouraging Skills Over the Summer

Everyone needs a break. Taking a break from school, work and therapy can be a good thing.  Time off gives us a chance to recharge and refocus our energy on the work ahead. Summer is a great time to take a short break from school and therapy. As therapists and teachers, we encourage you to take time off and give your child some time away from therapy to be a kid and do some fun summer things – like swimming, camping, visiting family and friends, etc.

After taking a few days or weeks off from school and therapy, you may want to start incorporating therapy skills indirectly to work on carrying skills from one school year to the next. Click here for some ideas for fun activities to encourage your child’s development indirectly over the summer.

Play in the Water  – When the weather turns hot, playing in water is a lot of fun.  Not only does it cool you off, but it encourages sensory exploration, motor skills and language development.  Simply turning on your garden hose can lead to hours of fun throughout the summer!  Don’t forget the sunscreen and remember to watch your child closely when they are playing in and around water.

Sing Songs – While on car trips or camping, encourage your child to request songs to sing. Singing works on the encouraging phonemic awareness (matching sounds to letters) – which is important for reading. It also works on breath support, oral airflow, increasing oral language skills and memory skills.  Studies show that children remember things more when they are taught through rhyme and songs.

Play with Blocks – Playing with blocks of different sizes indirectly works on math and science concepts such as geometry, spatial relations, balance, gravity, stability, etc.  Building with blocks encourages problem solving, classification skills and oral language.   Several games encourage block skills, such as Jenga or Make ‘n Break, or just use your imagination to create an alien city.   Use words to describe location, like “on top” or “next to” and encourage your child to copy your design.

Visit a Library –Reading is a great skill to work on over the summer. Many libraries have summer reading programs and book clubs for kids of all ages. Reading increases the child’s vocabulary and comprehension skills.  Looking at books helps children learn print concepts such as reading books from front to back, left to right, turning pages, etc.

Have an Art Show – Visit an art museum and encourage your child to look at the different paintings and talk about them.  After visiting the museum, purchase some art supplies and encourage your child to create a variety of art pieces and then host your own art show!  Creating the art will work on spatial, visual motor and color concepts.  Organizing the art show will work on increasing your child’s expressive language skills and social interactions.  Make a list of friends and family to invite to the show and send out invitations.  Your child can handwrite the invitations to practice handwriting skills.

Cook Together – Plan a menu with your child’s help.  After making the menu, make a grocery list.  Having your child write the list will work on their handwriting.  Encourage your child to organize the list into categories (fruits, dairy, etc) to work on classifying objects and organizational skills. Go to the grocery store together and help your child find the food items and purchase them.  Visiting the grocery store and buying the ingredients will work on math skills and understanding money.    Once you’re home, cook together to work on measuring, following directions, understanding changes from solids to liquids and sequencing skills.  Cooking can also help the not-so-eager eater become more comfortable with new foods.  Then, you get to enjoy the meal together!

Visit the Zoo – Before visiting the zoo, make a map and plan out which animals you and your child will stop and see.  Planning on what you’re going to do at the zoo will work on organizing, classifying and descriptive concepts.  While at the zoo, encourage your child to read the map and tell you where to go to work on following directions.

Play Outside – With all the technological advancements, children are playing outside less and less.  Playing outside encourages motor skills, balance and coordination.  Visit a park or play games like hide-n-seek, tag, catch, etc.  These games encourage turn-taking, following directions and social interactions.  Introduce your child to a new sport like baseball, basketball or soccer.  These sports encourage cooperation, working on a team, following directions and motor skills.   Even unstructured outdoor play can help increase muscle strength and stability, provide opportunities for sensory input, and increase focus and attention for sit down activities.  If it’s too hot, there are a number of places to play indoors, like Pump It Up or SkyZone.  Remember, theAmericanAcademy of Pediatrics recommends limiting total daily screen time to 2 hours or less, including computer and video games, and none at all for kids under 3.

So, keep it easy, keep it fun, and have a great summer!

From your Brightsong Therapy Team

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