From the NYU Child Study Center: Ask the Expert
How Can I Help My Child Have A Rewarding Summer?
Our family always looks forward to summer. The weather is great, school is out, the pace of life is slightly slower, and everyone’s stress level is a bit lower. For many families summer is a time for vacation both with and without our children. Some children go to camp for all or part of the summer. Generally summer means less supervision and more ‘freedom’ for our children, but it is still important to keep them both academically and socially engaged. I turned to some of the expert faculty at the Child Study Center for their advice on how to make sure that kids have a relaxed, enjoyable, and successful summer. Here are some of their suggestions:
1. Keep children engaged in activities but don’t over-schedule.
Susan Schwartz, M.A. Ed., clinical director of our Learning and Academic Achievement service, states “Many children want to be outside, riding bikes, playing ball, or cooling-off in the neighborhood pool. While it is important to maintain some routine, summer is a wonderful time for children to discover different ways to involve themselves in activities. It is also a time for increased family activity, socialization, and devoting time to learning something new—a craft, a sport, an activity. You might want to have some conversations with your child during the months before school concludes to discuss whether your child has some ideas about how he/she would like to be involved. Keep in mind that free time does not always breed “boredom,” and that you do not have to schedule activities for all hours of the day.”
2. Help children with social skills deficits improve.
Steve Kurtz, Ph.D., clinical director of our ADHD and Behavior Disorder Service, suggests “Youth with ADHD often experience problems making and keeping friends. The summer can be a great time to work on improving social skills.
Since social skills such as negotiating, accepting the choices of others, and complimenting others appear not to be inherently reinforcing for ADHD youngsters as for their non-ADHD peers, these skills need to be practiced often and throughout the entire year. The summer is a great opportunity for parents to prompt, monitor, and reinforce these skills. Certain activities are more likely than others to pull the best from your child. Play to your child’s strengths by choosing an activity at which your child succeeds to do with someone else. Invite a playmate with whom your child does well on one-to-one outings. Stack the deck in his or her favor by inviting someone who will be a good role model for social skills.” These suggestions will also work well with a child who is shy.
3. It is important to continue learning over the summer months.
Some schools have a policy of summer assignments that can help structure your child’s learning time. Local bookstores and libraries often have summer reading programs. Reading for pleasure helps build thinking and language skills and is great preparation for the fall school term. Allow your children to choose from a list of books and create a family reading time.
You can find more tips on creating a successful summer for you and your family at www.AboutOurKids.org.
This monthly column provides educators, parents and families with important information about child and adolescent mental health issues. Please submit questions for ASK THE EXPERT to Glenn S. Hirsch, M.D., Medical Director at the NYU Child Study Center at firstname.lastname@example.org. To subscribe to the ASK THE EXPERT Newsletter or for more information about the NYU Child Study Center, visit www.AboutOurKids.org or call 212-263-6622.