Ah, summertime. The days get longer, the routine relaxes, and children with ADHD are bursting with energy. Whether your child is heading to a day camp or staying around the house, having an arsenal of ideas to keep him occupied can help. Here are some ideas for summer activities for children with ADHD.
Summer sports**.** Check out your local area to see what team sports are available. Swimming is a great summer sport and because it is both an individual and team sport children with ADHD can excel. Other ideas include biking, hiking, running, skateboarding, sports clinics, martial arts, and volleyball. The YMCA is a great place to look for summer sports programs. Exercise has been found to reduce ADHD symptoms.
Group activities**.** Some children with ADHD struggle socially, and relaxed summer groups can help improve social skills. Look for programs at your local library or small classes related to your child’s interests. Scouting groups provide skills in working together. Earning badges helps reinforce working toward a goal.
Outdoor activities. Exercise and “green time” help reduce ADHD symptoms. One study found that children who routinely spend time in outdoor green areas (grass, trees) had milder symptoms than those that did not.
Music classes. Learning music can help train your child to multitask, as well as remembering and recalling sequences of events. Music can also help strengthen self-expression, social and emotional skills and overall literacy. If your child is interested in music or plays an instrument during the school year, look for places to continue the lessons over the summer.
Games**.** Simple, age-appropriate games such as Bingo, Chutes and Ladders or Candy Land are great for younger children and can help build their confidence and prepare them for more advanced games as they mature. More active games, such as Simon Says or Red Light, Green Light help teach listening skills.
Creative pl. Painting, drawing, writing stories or completing arts-and-crafts all help build imagination and teach children to think abstractly, something that is sometimes difficult for children with ADHD. Have plenty of art or writing supplies on hand.
Water activities**.** Swimming, jumping in a sprinkler or using a Slip-and-Slide all require energy and are usually done in a group, giving your child a chance to improve social skills.
Academic work**.** Research computer programs or apps that develop skills but provide fun and entertainment. Build time in each day for your child to review and build on skills learned during the previous school year. Don’t forget to include time for reading in the daily schedule.
Family activities**.** Plan at least one fun family activity each week. It might be taking a day trip, going on a picnic, visiting a museum or playing ball in the backyard. When planning outdoor activities, be sure to check the weather first and have an alternate plan ready.
Chores**.** During the school year, you might not want to overwhelm your child with too many chores, but during the summer months try adding one or two responsibilities. Look for those that require physical activity.
Time with friends**.** Keep in touch with classmates your child spends time with at school and plan play dates. This helps with social skills and builds self-worth. Keep play dates short to make sure both children leave with good feelings.
Keep a summer journal**.** Provide your child with a notebook at the beginning of summer. They can keep track of what they did: going to camp, going on vacation, learning a new skill. This helps improve writing skills. For children who don’t yet write, provide assistance or have them cut pictures from magazines to paste in the notebook.
Plan for rainy days**.** No matter what, summer invariably has rainy, stuck-in-the-house days. Plan ahead by having arts-and-craft supplies, games and other quiet time activities available.
As you plan your child’s summer activities, be sure to limit screen time on TV, computers and video games. If you do include screen time, be sure to balance it with active play.
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Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of Idiot's Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot's Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love and Essential Guide to Asperger's Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbaileyand on Facebook at eileenmbailey.