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Those summer months are on the horizon, and for those children not attending school over the summer, it is a break from hectic mornings, endless homework assignments, and packed schedules.


At the same time, all children, and especially unique learners such as those with ADHD or autism, rely on a consistent routine in order to thrive. Their security and confidence increases, reducing unwanted behaviors and building independence.


Maintaining this structure and predictability can help ease the transition into summer break, while making your day-to-day less overwhelming and stressful.


  • Create a Visual Schedule


Creating a visual schedule can help your neurodivergent child understand what will happen throughout the day in a more concrete way. This can be particularly beneficial if your child struggles with transitions or unexpected changes in routine. The schedule can be as detailed or as broad as you want it to be, knowing your individual child, but it should be structured enough to give them a sense of predictability. 


Be sure to include pictures, icons, or even photographs to represent certain activities or tasks. A color-coded system often works well. Visuals communicate to your child what is expected of them, and what is coming next, without them having to ask you countless times.


  • Keep Consistent (and Flexible) Wake and Bedtimes 


One of the biggest changes during the summer is a shift in wake up and bedtime routines. There are more vacations, more nights out, and less pressure to be out of the house in the morning. For neurodivergent children, however, a consistent bedtime is crucial. 


Because it is summer break, and there needs to be some flexibility, consider adjusting bedtime by no more than an hour or two from their regular schedule. Follow by adjusting the wake up time accordingly. This ensures they still receive enough sleep, setting them up for success.


  • Include Fun, Structured Learning Activities


Having a usual structure for your day, and dividing it into predictable parts, can help bring a feeling of security. Including some plans for outings and activities into this structure can give them something to look forward to and occupy them over the summer months. This can include things like visits to the park, trips to the pool, or meeting up with some peers at a splash park. Learning takes place in these places too! Just be sure to provide a sense of predictability by letting your child know in advance, verbally or visually, when these activities will take place. 


At-home activities can be just as fun and educational too. Think about all the life skills they can gain by learning to cook favorite family recipes or mailing letters to school friends. Setting up a sensory bin filled with dry rice, oats, beans, or even water can engage children until an older age than you might think. 


  • Incorporate Downtime


Amidst all of the activities and fun, you want to include some downtime to balance out the day. By allowing some rest, you won’t risk exhaustion and they will have time to recharge for the next part of the day. This will also improve daily behaviors so no one is running on empty.


As you put together your schedule, consider having outings and activities as the “first part”, followed by some downtime, and then one last thing before dinnertime to finish out the day. Following this consistent yet flexible routine, your child will know exactly what to expect and be more open to new experiences.


  • Focus on Independent Skills


Encouraging your child to be independent and take responsibility for certain tasks can help build confidence and self-esteem. This can include things like making their own breakfast, getting dressed independently, or packing what they need for the day. Because of its flexibility, summer is a perfect time to focus on those lessons. Providing clear instructions and positive reinforcement will go a long way as you foster this independence.


By putting in some forethought, your summer days will be planned before you know it. Take this month leading up to summer to have a conversation with your child about all the things they want to do, and explain your thoughts on what each day will look like. Above all, remember to be flexible and patient, and don’t hesitate to reach out here about our suggestions for your child’s time over the summer and the opportunities West Hills Academy provides during those months.




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