School holidays can be so much fun and hopefully everyone gets a little ‘R and R”! Sometimes however, this is far from the case.
They can often be a very challenging time for children with additional needs and their parents/caregivers. We understand that school holidays can be a big disruption to your routine, with regular co-curricular, sports and services cancelled, and extended periods of time co-regulating around siblings, sometimes resulting in heightened anxiety and dysregulation. We understand that you turn into trying to be that “everything to everyone” jack of all trades parent!
Never fear because our OTFC Occupational Therapists are here to give you some useful tips to keep your children busy these school holidays.
Our top 5 tips:
- Try to keep a loose sense of routine.
Encourage your child to get up and get ready at a similar time each day and settle for bed at a similar time. Even though they may not be getting in or out of their uniform, try to keep self-care routines in the same order to support independence and other executive functioning skills (i.e. attention, sequencing, problem-solving).
2. Plan your weekly activities in advance.
Use visual schedules, weekly planners, or social stories to support your child’s anxiety and communicate what is going to happen and when. Visual aids and extra time to process any changes to routine may support your child’s emotional and sensory regulation, particularly if they’re about to visit a new space for the first time.
3. Don’t be afraid to SLOW down! (We love this one)
The school term is a crazy busy time for every family and the classroom and school yard are two of the most sensory-rich environments your child will face. So don’t be afraid to slow down the pace of your holidays to allow your child time to engage in calming activities which will help them to regulate.
4. Limit screen time, and up quality time!
Whilst it is inevitable that your child will have a little bit more screen time in the holidays (and that is OK!), try to reward positive behaviour with quality time as a family, rather than screen time. Go out and do something together as a family, explore a new national park, go for a bike ride, try a new playground, try out Bounce or Latitude, go for a picnic, set up camp in the backyard!
5. Guide your child to engage in sensory-based activities that will support their attention, regulation and behaviour. Any school holiday activities involving movement, swinging, running, balancing, climbing, jumping, feeling and deep breathing will assist your child to process and regulate their senses and emotions. Check out our socials and blog for more activity ideas.
We’re now based across three locations Adelaide CBD, Mile End and Parkside.
OTFC Group – We’re Influencing Lives. Creating Possibilities. Making a Difference
OTFC is a South Australian clinic-based service that is centrally located and services children and adolescents from birth through to 21 years of age both locally and nationally. Dedicated to providing a client focused approach where children and families feel validated in their concerns, supported in difficult times, encouraged to be proactive and inspired to facilitate change.