The summer can be the perfect time to learn and/or strengthen executive functioning skills because the stress associated with the daily grind of school is over and although there are some expectations, the academic demands are much less. Sometimes, it is simply a matter of creating a fresh approach to tasks and finding opportunities for practicing strategies you didn’t have time to create during the hectic school year. Summer can be the perfect time for addressing time management, managing emotions, planning and prioritizing, self advocacy, and finding independence with schoolwork.
To give you a sense of what we are talking about try out these ideas and see what you think.
- Use a large desktop calendar and fill in any major family events that you know are taking place during the summer. Do this now and use a specific color for these events and include the start time and end time if you know it.
Include any summer camps or activities that your child/children are doing in a
different color. The idea is to create a visual that isn’t entirely overwhelming
but that gives your child a “heads up” and provides a “big picture” overview of
the summer. Be sure to explain that it is always possible that activities will be
added or changed. This visual can lessen your child’s anxiety by providing an
understanding of what is coming up in the future. It also can help your child
have a better understanding of the sense of time and the need for planning
- Ask your child what they think is the best way to make a plan for summer work. If you have a middle school or high school student they most likely want independence and don’t want to be nagged all summer about completing the work. At this age nagging usually does nothing to improve skills or productivity, but it does provide tension. If there is going to be less nagging talk with your child about what their plan is going to be and when they think you should check in and see how things are going. 99% of the time your child will probably have stricter guidelines for themselves then you would have so give this a try as you are sure to be surprised!
- Have your child provide you with a visual of the plan and make this non-negotiable. If they want less nagging you need to see their plan so you know what the expectations are. Your child may or may not need help with this process as they may be ambitious or they may not leave room in the schedule for unexpected changes to the schedule.
Let’s get back to the fun part of summer! Create a summer bucket list for everyone in your family. Of course make it clear that cost, time and logistics will have to be considered! A summer bucket list can only be created by using executive functioning skills. You need to organize and communicate your ideas, plan and prioritize, problem solve, be flexible in your thinking to accommodate other ideas, and manage time.