5 Tips for the Summer Holidays

Summer holidays might bring a sense of relief, recovery and recuperation for your family, allowing you all to have some downtime after a busy school year. For some of our families however, the holidays could possibly present a sense of overwhelm, logistical difficulties, and period of acclimatising to a new routine. 6 weeks might feel very daunting, and that’s OK too!

If your child has sensory processing difficulties, there are some really small things you could hold in mind to help your family to make the most of the 6 weeks. If you feel you need some support from a Sensory Integration trained Occupational Therapist, please do contact us here.


1. Relax and Enjoy!


First and foremost, try to relax and enjoy the season! Summer holidays can sometimes feel like a big expectation – and often, lots to juggle in terms of childcare. Try and soak up the longer days, and do small things like just being outside a little more and getting some Vitamin D! 

If you feel more regulated, this will help your child to too. You could go for a walk down your street with a cuppa in a flask, rather than sitting on the sofa. Little things add up and make a big different to our wellbeing!

“Walking is a man’s best medicine.” – Hippocrates


2. Explore Different Play Parks


School holidays can be a great time for visiting parks. Usual “busy” times (like after school) can be spread out over the whole day, meaning you and your child might have a bit more time in a quieter space – especially if you head out earlier in the morning!

If your child finds playing in the park difficult – perhaps because of poor body awareness, motor planning, or coordination – take the time in the holidays to spend extra time there with them. When the park is quieter, play together on the different equipment, and model how to use them. Encourage curiosity and exploring, not what the child actually goes on. Focus on FUN! – can their teddy climb the stairs and go down the slide?! Can you collect or stick on stickers as you tackle the climbing frame together?! Sometimes enjoying playing together in a safe way without expectations, can make all the difference to developing skills and mastery!

“Scientists have recently determined that it takes approximately 400 repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain- unless it is done with play, in which case, it takes between 10-20 repetitions.”- Dr. Karyn Purvis.


3. Play in the Dirt


If your child is sensitive to touch, then dry textures are usually the best place to start (dry dirt or soil!). Try using sticks, spades, and other tools for your child to play with the dirt. Draw pictures, make potions and recipes, build mud huts!! If your child feels comfortable playing with these textures, you could try starting to add water and get really messy! Take plenty of wipes and flannels so your child can clean their hands whenever they want.

Playing in the dirt has massive benefits for our children – and for us! It boosts our immunity, provides natural anti-depressant effects, lowers blood pressure and stress hormones. Research shows children who play outside are able to use their imagination, assess risk, and channel their curiosity.

“Nature is a tool to get children to experience not just the wider world, but themselves.” – Stephen Moss


4. Encourage Your Child to Help

Children are naturally motivated to imitate their parents! This can be difficult to support if you are short on time, but the summer might be a lovely chance to really lean into this and slow down your daily routines.

  • Is your child sensitive to touch? Allow them to help you prepare foods of different textures
  • Is your child sensitive to noise? Allow them to help you vacuum (you could even make lots of mess first to make it super satisfying – dry Weetabix is a good way to do this!!)
  • Does your child find motor planning difficult? Practice lots of simple house jobs together, such as sweeping up, collecting dirt in a dustpan, and emptying it into the bin
  • Does your child need lots of movement? Get them to help cleaning the bathroom or windows – using their muscles can be very calming!
“Children have a tendency to imitate. They must adapt to this world and be able to do all the things that are done in the environment. They imitate for this reason” – Maria Montessori

5. Indulge in Summer Picnics!

Summer picnics are a lovely way to experiment with different foods, if your child struggles with accepting new foods, then having a no pressure ‘buffet’ is a lovely way to get them used to being around different textures, smells, colours and tastes. Talk about how food feels in your hands, how it sounds when you eat it – try and stay away from talking about food being ‘nice’ or ‘not nice’.

Other Ideas!

  1. Head to the woods with any old blankets, bedsheets and towels – along with some string, and make a den! This is great for work on skills such as planning, organising, sequencing, and feedback skills – does it look how I want?! Is it too big or small?! How could I do it differently?!
  2. Chalk! Chalk on pavements, on walls- its great for creativity, drawing obstacle courses, practicing drawing and writing skills through play!
  3. Make a bug hotel! This is great for supporting local ecosystems and learning about the environment, and for channeling creativity and problem solving skills!
  4. Berry picking in the woods – this is brilliant for working on ‘sensory discrimination’ – noticing details, similarities and differences, and really slowing down! See some guidance from The Woodland Trust and also some book recommendations to help you safely forage here.

If your family is based near us in Leeds, please do check out https://wearechildfriendlyleeds.com/summer-in-leeds/ for some ideas of things that are around that are free or low cost!

Above all, we hope you have a restorative and relaxed summer – or failing that, we hope you can enjoy the chaos!

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