By Tiffany Shedd
Summer is upon us. The kids have been out of school for a few weeks. And, I bet you’re already tired of hearing “I’m bored”.
It doesn’t matter if your child is special needs or not, they all feel it is their inalienable right to never be bored. They may have hundreds of toys, videogames, DVDs and Netflix account, but, they will still claim they are bored.
Hopefully, I can give you a few ideas on how to keep them busy enough that they won’t have time to be bored.
As any parent of a special needs child knows, a schedule is your friend. Even during summer break, kids need a schedule. Come up with one that works for your family. If your kids are younger, your schedule is going to look a lot different than one that’s meant for older kids.
If you don’t how to create a schedule, here are a few suggestions. Obviously, you’ve got meals. There’s three things for your schedule right there. If your kids still take naps (lucky you), schedule that. If they aren’t nappers, that’s a little more time to fill up, but you can plan some quiet activity time, such as reading.
If you know that your kid is most energetic in the morning, don’t schedule reading time for the morning. Work with your kids’ energy cycles. If your kids are laid back and like a slow start to their morning, don’t try to get them up and out the door. That won’t go well for anyone.
Once you’ve figured out your kids’ natural schedule, try to fill in some of your time with activities they will enjoy. My child is a go-go-go kind of kid. So, our schedule includes a lot of trips in the car to go places.
Your schedule doesn’t need to include daily trips, but having a few outings a week will go a long way to quelling the boredom. You can use these outings as rewards for good behavior or motivation.
Once you’ve got motivation, be sure to include chores into your daily and weekly schedule. If they know they start the day off by making their bed and end it by straightening their room, it lessens the arguments and whining. To be clear, there will still be whining and arguments, but after a week hopefully it won’t be as bad.
Now that the boring stuff is out of the way, here are some fun suggestions about how to fill up those long summer days. You probably know about Operation Purple and their generous summer camps for military kids. But did you know that there are camps for military kids with special needs? There are several organizations, such as Operation We are Here and Military Special Needs Network, that make this possible. Check out these websites to learn more about these camp opportunities:
While it may be too late to participate in one of these camps this summer, you can definitely start planning for next summer.
If you don’t want to send your kids away to camp, there are always summer reading programs.
Don’t let the summer be an excuse for your kids to forget the important reading lessons they had at school. Your local library or installation likely has a summer reading program for your kid to be involved in.
Our local library even includes pre-school kids and allows parents to read to them. We have a great library system that gives the kids lots of great incentives for signing up for the program and completing it. They area also doing a ton of great learning programs every week. If your local library doesn’t have a program, here is information about the DoD-MWR Summer Reading Program: https://www.ila.org/dodsumread/
If a reading program doesn’t sound like that much fun, there are lots of other fun and inexpensive activities in your community. Regal Cinemas has $1 kids’ movies throughout the summer. They may not be sensory sensitive specific, but because they are second run movies for kids, patrons will probably be less likely to be upset if your child isn’t the perfect theater goer.
To find a theater near you, visit: http://www.regmovies.com/movies/summer-movie-express
If you have water lovers, but a pool is too intimidating, look for splash pads. All the fun of getting wet without the drowning risks. If you don’t have water kids, check out all the playgrounds in your community. Maybe try a new one every week. Or if your kid doesn’t like change, stick with your favorite.
If you’re looking for something bigger, check with your Morale, Welfare and Recreation office. You will find lots of great deals for fun stuff to do. They have discounted tickets for movies, sporting events, aquariums, zoos, amusement parks, etc. You can also rent sports equipment and other fun stuff. Is your yard big enough for a bouncy house? You can rent one from MWR. If loud noises aren’t a problem for your kids, check out your installations bowling alley. Go during the week during the day, and you’re likely to find you have the whole place to yourself.
Hopefully, you’ll find something here that keeps your kids from driving you bananas with their cries of boredom. Just remember that summer doesn’t last forever. School will be starting again before you know it. Take some time to have fun with your kids.