The prospect of a relaxing summer, unencumbered by the stress of school, is highly anticipated by both students and their parents. Students with ADHD deserve time to relax, hike, bike, swim, wiggle their toes in the sand, and otherwise enjoy the summer months. Parents of students with ADHD also deserve a break from the role of being a “homework cop.”
Despite the difficulty for both students and their families to keep up with the many demands of a busy schedule during the academic year, school does provide the structure that is helpful to students with ADHD. A lack of structure and routine can be trying for someone with executive function and self-regulation challenges.
So how do we, as parents, provide the right amount of structure during the summer months so that our students can have much-needed “down time” without overdoing it? What is the right amount of structure anyway?
For each student the ideal mix of activities is going to be different, of course, but parents of students with ADHD might aim for:
- Some learning – either through a summer class, information-oriented camp, tutoring, self-study or daily academic time to keep skills up and avoid summer learning loss
- Some exercise – either through organized sports, camps, lessons, shared exercise opportunities with family, or free play
- Some routine – for sleeping, eating, chores, and self-care
- Some socialization – with family, established friends, and friends-to-be
- Some exploration of interests and passions, which can include limited screen time via smart phones, internet, videogames, or TV
- Some relaxation, allowing time for students to look up at the clouds, think, and dream
It might be mentioned, too, that summer is often a great time to start ADHD coaching to help students develop the strategies, habits and tools that will allow them to “hit the ground running” once school starts again in the fall.
As the summer begins, you might talk with your family to discuss summer goals in addition to any planned activities, vacations, or classes that are on the schedule. What do they want to learn? What do they want to discover? What would they really like to do to make this summer one to remember?
Whatever summer looks like for your family, when parents and students are in agreement as to the goals and the new routines of summer, the easier and more fun it will be for everyone!