Planning Summer season Days: Rhythm & Routine with Youngsters
Summer! Children are excited. Teachers are relieved. Parents across the country are feeling a familiar tingling sensation in the pit of their stomach from the summer routine – especially parents dealing with ADHD children. Somewhere in their heads they think
“What now? What do I do with my energetic, often absent-minded, kilometer-long child, all day, every day for the next ten weeks?”
It seems daunting at best and is downright overwhelming for many of you. You’re not alone. I hear these comments every spring.
Here’s the good news: paying attention to your child’s natural rhythms can take away some of the stress. You can use your child’s biology to prepare them for success.
In general, the school year goes more smoothly than summer because it is a consistent and predictable Routine for every day. Routine helps your child regulate themselves and makes your days calmer.
The daily rhythm of summer does not have to include attending a structured camp or program. You can also create this rhythm at home. The routine should consistently include wake-up times, sequence of activities, eating, bathing and sleeping times.
Most children with ADHD do not cope well with changes in established routines and expectations. So the faster you establish a daily / weekly rhythm, the better it is likely to get.
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When creating your daily / weekly rhythm, take your child’s natural biorhythm into account. Children with ADHD often follow a typical pattern of alertness and concentration. Daytime vigilance generally comes in two waves:
- a long period of high alert from morning to early afternoon
- a second, albeit shorter, waking time in the evening after lunch
The other times of the day are “low alarm” periods. Little attention needs to be paid to it when creating a schedule.
A day that takes natural rhythms into account would look something like this:
- a short “start-up” phase in the morning (especially if your child is taking stimulants), including breakfast and a look at an age-appropriate magazine or puzzle book.
- Next, plan activities like housework or tutoring. (According to the premack principle, housework, tutoring or other less desirable tasks should be done during this time of high vigilance In front fun and exciting activities.)
- When you go into the later mornings, plan some fun games for your mind and body, such as playing games. go swimming or play.
- This is also a good time to hold group meetings.
- This is followed by the siesta time, while your child takes a natural break. Create a “boredom grab bag” for downtime. Make a bag of activity cards for your child to choose from during their free time. Make it clear that it is the child’s “job” to entertain themselves, using the activities in the bag or thinking about alternative options. The tote bag promotes independence, initiation, and perseverance while preventing you from being a permanent cruise director.
- Late afternoon / early evening is a good time for any activity that requires minimal stamina and / or high natural interest – movie time, screen time, or video games. Save these activities for after your siesta.
- Evenings after dinner are great for out-of-competition games, outdoor walks, stargazing, and storytelling. Your child is at a creative peak but has minimal attention – keep this in mind as you plan activities and set expectations.
- Evening is NOT a good time to plan a large dinner party where you would expect your ADHD child to sit quietly and behave around a table with mostly adults.
- Before going to bed, plan a screen-free hour in which your child can end the day, read or be read aloud and go to bed.
Deep sigh of relief. Summer vacation can’t be that bad after all. In fact, it sounds better and better right now. It just takes a little planning and foresight to create a summer routine with kids.
If it still seems daunting, take another deep breath. Find a friend or coach to help you take the information here and put it into action. And remember, the time you spend planning will reduce your stress levels and help you prepare your kids for success. After all, doesn’t everyone deserve to enjoy their summer !?