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It's hard to believe summer is in full swing

Summer is now in full swing! For all of us, summer is looking different this year and we are all working to find creative, safe ways to adapt and do what is best for our families. This article will offer tips, summer activities and ways to engage, support and have fun at home. Here are some ways you can prepare and tips to consider.

Some fun ideas:

1. Do what feels good for you/Stay Positive: This is no doubt a confusing and likely disappointing summer. Parents, allow yourself to take breaks and time for your own self-care. There is no right or wrong way to go about parenting in a pandemic. Do what feels right for you and your family! Remember, adults and kids are allowed to feel disappointed, sad or angry. If you need specific strategies/outlets for how to respond to those feelings consult with a Kickstart clinician! Some general ideas: take deep breaths, have a cozy corner, give a lovie a big squeeze, have a snack/drink from a water bottle and movement like “wall pushes” or jumps.

2. Prepare an informal and easily amendable schedule: Having a schedule supports predictability and organization but is not a one size fits all model. You know your children the best and can tailor a schedule based on their individual needs. If making a schedule/following a routine, create it with your child, allowing him/her to be part of the process. For example, you might make a daily check list that includes “have to dos” like lunch or down time. Allow your child to make choices before/after and offer options such as “should we go for a walk or ride bikes today for outdoor time?” Using language of “first, then, next” is often helpful for children to process and conceptualize the day. In any case, it’s summer! Allow for schedule to change and be sure to include downtime and fun!

3. Prepare your outdoor space: If you have a backyard, prepare it with summer and kid friendly activities. If you can, place your orders now for things such as sprinklers, outdoor games/sports, and kid friendly exercise equipment like a trampoline. It may take a while for these non-essential items to be delivered, so get an early start on it. Or use your creativity to put together outdoor options, such as a sidewalk chalk area, or growing and maintaining a garden. If going for a walk, point out what you see or play I spy), see if you can collect items like “things that are green” along the way.

4. Hands on activities: Reserve time to limit interactions with toys and products that have buttons and batteries and allow your child to explore and be creative. Is your child interested in gardening? Get a small shovel, dirt and allow to plant seeds and help water. There are simple ways to create sensory fun such as using large Tupperware or bin for water play. Use soap to add bubbles and “wash” hard toys like cars and plastic animals. Shaving cream is a messy yet clean activity-all you need is a bin, shaving cream water to rinse and towels to dry. Try creating a car wash to support sequencing (i.e. car is messy with shaving cream, then washed next rinsed last dried). What can you and your child create from recycled materials? Consider taking nature walks collecting items to then create something like a person or sorting items into different categories (hard/soft, by color or size).

5. Stay connected: It’s a bummer those playdates and group outings have a high probability of not happening the way we all anticipated. Here are some ways to stay connected to family and friends. 1) write a letter: first think about someone you are missing. Then brainstorm things you like to do with that person, something you want to tell that person and write a letter. (have your child dictate for you to write or draw a picture. When the letter is done you can address is and walk to the mailbox for an outdoor outing! 2) schedule phone calls and send video messaging. 3) maybe a social distance or outside time feels right for your family. To support social distancing try to designate a space for your child. For example, make a large box with chalk for your child to work inside then the same at a distance for the other child. It is helpful if each kiddo has their own set of items to reduce sharing/touching the same tools and materials.

Summer is typically filled with parades, picnics, fourth of July celebrations, carnivals, trips and the list goes on and on. You can still capture the magic of summer with stay-at-home, modified versions of these events. For example, on the 4th of July, set up a parade around your house. Also, an obstacle course outside made with everyday household items, can be a fun alternative to a carnival. (things like following a path made with chalk, jumping over and around items or collecting items along the way like puzzle pieces or toys makes for great obstacle courses). Cooking is another engaging, creative and fun summer activity-making lemonade together, freezing into popsicles, decorating 4th of July pancakes. Remember the play is learning and it’s important to have fun to reduce stress and focus on summertime fun.

By now, we have come to come to the realization that summer is looking different and likely feeling disappointment, worry and frustration. The goal of this article is to help prepare alternatives to give an at home fun summer experience with engaging activities and summer fun while recognizing emotional needs. Kickstart clinicians are here to support you virtually to help through at home challenges and create home programming with you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out. And we also feel disappointed and confused with summer plans being different!

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