There are a few realities about summer activities. Many of them are run by volunteers who may have no experience with children, or with a specific age group. Even non-volunteers may have no teaching experience or experience with children who learn differently. Sometimes a statement such as, "Oh come on, you are old enough to know how to do that." takes all the fun away from a child who isn't sure what to do and now thinks she must be dumb. How can a parent help?
- If you know your child has spatial problems or difficulty following verbal instructions you need to give them a hint of what is expected. Go over with your child the rules of any sport before you send them out to join a team. This may include taking her to a baseball field and showing her which way to run or practice catching a ball. This is especially true for an older child (7-10) who has never played that specific sport.
- Ask if activities will require reading or math. Your child may enjoy a hands-on science workshop but not enjoy filling out a worksheet. Let your child know that it isn't school and that not being able to do a written activity doesn't mean he can't enjoy the rest of the class.
- Find out how many adults and children will be in the activity. Remember, summer activities often are noisier than school and that makes it difficult to hear the instructor.
- Ask you child what was the best part and the worst part of the day's activity.
- Talk to the people running the program. Don't be mad or sarcastic, but tell them how much you want your child to learn the skill or information, but in a different way than they do at school. Explain how they can make it easier for all the children to have a good time.
- Volunteer to help.