The transition from school to summer might sound blissful after a packed school year, especially if your child struggles with academics or doesn’t enjoy the daily pressures of the classroom. Unfortunately, all that freedom can be overwhelming to many kids, and those with learning disabilities often have trouble making a smooth transition out of the school routine and into the new reality of life on summer vacation.
If you’ve noticed that your child’s behavior worsens as vacation approaches, it might be more than spring fever. Many children start to act out as the school year draws to a close because they feel unsettled by the coming changes.
Here’s how you can help your child through the transition:
Even though your child may complain about the afternoon routine of homework, dinner, and bathing, doing away with it entirely once school ends can cause big problems. Kids rely on steady routines to feel safe. Knowing what to expect helps them build confidence. Do your best to keep a regular bedtime during the summer, even if it’s an hour later than usual. Likewise, maintaining regular mealtimes will help give shape to the day and keep your child in good health, both mentally and physically.
Provide Clear Expectations
You might relax a few rules during the summer, but be clear and consistent about your expectations for behavior. If you plan to extend bedtime or allow for a little more screen time, talk to your child about what the new rules look like, and make sure you’re clear about when they will change back for the new school year. Once your child knows what’s expected, it’s up to you to consistently enforce your standards — even if you don’t feel like it on a hot, muggy day.
Stay in Touch with Friends
If your child struggles socially, summer can be a lonely time when transitioning from school to summer break. It’s easy to assume your child is having fun, but they may need your help setting up playdates or learning to call friends for a chat. Support your child by suggesting a “Sunday fun day” and inviting a friend on a family outing each week or making sure your child has a regular social event to look forward to.
It’s easy to feel like you’re being strict when you enforce the rules over summer vacation, but having clear expectations about behavior and sticking to a schedule will help your child feel secure. The transition from school to summer will be much easier for them and you. When your child knows what to expect, they will be comfortable and enjoy their time off instead of worrying or acting out. This, in turn, will allow you to make beautiful memories together as a family.
About the author
Jessica Glenbocki is an Occupational Therapist and a certified sensory integration and the interactive metronome. She received her master’s in occupational therapy from Cleveland State University. If you suspect your child may have early development issues, set up a session with Jessica through her personal page on Vitalxchange to receive more personalized recommendations.