Summertime is often associated with fun, sun and relaxation; and for the most part it does involve those things. As a parent, however, summertime can pose some challenges. Things like ‘What do we do with these children all day?’ Or ‘Where is my child this week?’ ‘How do I continue to integrate my child’s learning, sensory, developmental needs into the day-to-day summer schedule of fun and relaxation?’ Often times these changes in schedules and routine can stress all of us! I am going through some issues now with my very structured toddler! Here are some fun tips and sensory based activities you can incorporate into your summer:
A good way to help your child anticipate changes into the routine throughout the summer is develop a family fun calendar. Highlight vacations and special events and be sure to point out these changes in the routine.
Swim, swim, swim! Whether you belong to a pool club, take classes at the local YMCA, have an extended beach vacation or venture into Philly public pools; swimming is a great activity for your child. It is great for building strength, body awareness and coordination. This activity integrates many sensory systems and is overall a fun family activity! Other good water based options are visits to spray grounds, spray parks, and turning on sprinklers.
When it is not too hot, visit playgrounds! Climbing is another great way to build strength and coordination and integrate the vestibular (movement sense) and proprioceptive (muscle sense) sensory systems.
Frozen and delectable treats! To provide some good oral motor input this summer, present those ice cold drinks with straws. Change up the input by using various straws from twisty, to large ones to even little coffee stirrer. Shake in the fun by having the family put together a treat of milkshakes after dinner. Cool down after some outdoor playtime with a Popsicle, frozen fruit bar or ice cream cone.
And there are always Bubbles! Using a variety of bubble blowers provide various types of input while challenging their oral motor skills. Your child can become a little snorkeler by using a straw to blow bubbles while in the pool. Allow children to get regulated by making lots of noise blowing whistles and noise-makers for an outdoor parade.
Make a mess! Summertime is an ideal time to address tactile needs since it is easy to move the mess outside. Allow your child to play in the sand using shovels and spoons for scooping and dumping. Make it a family project by building a large sandcastle. You can fill a baby pool with shaving cream to hide small objects inside. For an easy clean up, turn on the sprinkler or hose and let your child run through it.
Just go outside! Being outside provides a new variety of auditory input that we miss during the winter months. Take a nature walk through a wooded park, have a dance party through the sprinkler, or go to watch airplanes or trains go by at nearby open field.
Or just put your kid to work! Pull your child into those daily outside chores, such as washing the car, weeding, and planting flowers. All these activities provide tons of sensory input, and help you mark items off your to-do list. Move some of your common inside activities outside, such as reading and game playing. Just changing the environment and positioning away from a chair or table, increases the sensory input for your child. From the auditory sounds of nature, or the busy city, to increasing core control required for sitting on the ground or lying on their bellies, this is a simple way to pull things into your daily schedules.
Summer allows you to be open to new and creative ideas for sensory play. So, let sensory fun begin!