Happy Summer!! Top 5 Summer OT Tips

Written by Jessica Addeo

Summer is here and everyone at Positive Steps couldn’t be happier. Summer means more time outside, more opportunities for sensory input (swimming, playground, walks), more free time and less academic demands and truthfully, just more fun! Summer is a great time to capitalize on what your child has been working on all year long and continue to integrate their OT “goals” into daily life. Here are our top 5 summer tips:

1-Take advantage of the great outdoors: Input opportunities are endless!!! You don’t need to be in a sensory gym to get input and the summer is a great time to capitalize on that. Go to the playground, for a walk/hike, to the town pool, to the beach, to the carnival or an outdoor festival. Notice which places feel good to your child and which do not. Work to carve in more of the feel-good places on a consistent basis in daily life and talk with your therapist about situations that are challenging for your child.

2-Structured vs. Unstructured Time: Some children respond best to the freedom of summer, whereas other children have difficulty without the structure and routine a school year can provide. If your child responds best to the downtime and freedom, give them some of that! Although you may feel like they aren’t “doing enough”, this break may be just what their brains need to integrate all the hard work they have done all year long. We are not advocating turning into couch potatoes who play video games all day long, but maybe a few less activities with some more free play outside. If your child struggles with all the down time, help them structure it. In the morning or over the weekend discuss some things they may want to do that day or week or let them know the schedule that is coming up. If this is too difficult in words you can use pictures to make a schedule. (Ask us for help here!)

3- Make learning fun: Many parents want to continue practice some academic skills over the summer to make sure their child doesn’t regress. We understand, but let’s make it fun. Before we know it, September will be here and days will be filled with textbooks and long periods of time sitting at a desk. In the summer practice math problems paired with gross motor exercises (do jumping jacks to addition problems). Practice handwriting with chalk in the driveway. Read laying on your belly on a blanket in the grass or on the beach. Let your bodies do the learning with your mind to see even better results! (Ask us for more ideas specific to what you want to work on with your child this summer).

4-Prioritze Connectivity: Life is busy and full and sometimes we get so caught up in the shuffling to and from activities, homework assignments and life obligations that we don’t have time to focus on our relationships. Let summer be a time of connectivity with your child. Play with him or her, in the ways they want to play. Notice how they respond to more focused attention from you and relish in your relationship with them. If this feels difficult or like it isn’t flowing you can talk to your therapist about coming into an OT session to practice just “playing”. (Not parenting, disciplining, teaching…PLAYING!!)

5-Take your favorite thing about summer and share it with your child: Just as you are playing with your child on their level, bring them to yours. There are millions of ways to incorporate OT goals into your favorite summer activities. Love ice cream? Have your child help scoop cones with you. Walking on the beach? An amazing input activity, you can talk about how your body feels relaxed and model self-regulation skills for your child. Swimming is your favorite? Teach your child how to swim or hang out with him or her in the pool!

Often the work we do in OT can seem very technical and specialized, but really our main goal is to help your child participate more fully and functionally in daily life. Any season comes with opportunities to incorporate “OT” into daily life, but for now use the suggestions above to make for a most lovely summer. As always come to us with questions, we are here to help!

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