Thursday, July 9, 2015

Summertime Blues

Summer vacation brings Vacation Bible School, various camps, museum workshops, and other child centered enterprises. This is the time a child is supposed to enjoy and experience successes that they may not have had at school. Unfortunately, not everyone got the memo. Some children with learning differences(LDs) end up in activities that only exacerbate their failures in reading or following complicated directions.  

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.

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