As summer approaches, children and parents start anticipating a relaxing, stress-free three months. But for many families with children that struggle with behavioral, social or academic issues, this break from school can also be worrisome. Will my child lose what he gained this school year? Will she have a teachernext year who understands her needs?Will he have to start over makingfriends after summer?
While these fears are understandable,parents can positively impacttheir child’s skills during the summermonths and help alleviate any potential decrease in social, behavioral andacademic abilities. First, while kids willbeg and plead, screen time should belimited to no more than one hour a day.This includes all computer, video andcell phone games. Not only does thebrain need a different type of stimulation,a child playing video games is notphysically active, socially engaged orutilizing executive processing skills.
Secondly, try to keep children, especially those with ADHD and autism, on a regular schedule. Children with these disorders can be thrown off when events are unpredictable and inconsistent, especially sleeping and eating. Continue to ensure that a child gets a full night’s sleep and that bedtime remains consistent with the school year. Also, parents should try to avoid fast-food restaurants and not allow their children to eat foods high in sugar, artificial contents and dyes. Remember, the stomach is known as the “second brain”. If it isn’t healthy, then the brain isn’t healthy, either.
Parents also need to engage their children in physical activity every day. Swimming, walking, bike riding and skating are beneficial for everyone. Exercise stimulates the brain in many ways and will keep a child’s mind sharp. Doing activities that engage a child’s spatial awareness, like jumping, balancing and spinning, can help improve focus and behavior. Make up indoor and outdoor obstacle courses together and include a spin chair, a trampoline, a balance board and similar challenges.
All children need a break over the summer from the stress of school work, but their brains do not need a break. Having a child practice academic skills like reading is important, but that alone is not enough, especially for kids that struggle; the best thing to do is keep them moving.
Debby Romick is the director of Brain Balance Achievement Center of Plano, 1501 Preston Rd., Ste. 550, in Plano. They will hold a Summer Splash Seminar at 7 p.m., May 22. For more information, call 972-248-9482 or visit BrainBalancePlano.com.