Reimagining Summer: Planning for the New Normal
For many of us, staying safer at home to limit our risk of getting COVID-19 will continue well into the summer months. Because our children are at higher risk if they become ill with this virus, we need to seriously weigh the risks of jumping back into community activities.
In addition, many camps and community programs have been delayed or canceled for the summer. So we’re all scrambling to think creatively and reimagine a fun and active summer for our kids with special needs.
Tip for Families:
Your child’s camp should follow the American Camp Association (ACA) guidelines. The ACA worked closely with health professionals, like the American Academy of Pediatrics, to make a safe camp for every camper. Also, talk with your child’s health care provider to decide if it’s safe for your child to participate in activities with other children.
IDEAS FOR SUMMER FUN
Find ways to get outdoors and stay active. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidance on visiting parks and recreational facilities has some great suggestions for families who want to enjoy the outdoors. Some of these recommendations are to visit parks close to home, prepare for your visit with things like masks and hand sanitizer, practice social distancing, and avoid playgrounds or parks that look crowded.
Think about low-cost activities for your family. Try planting an herb garden with your kids; turn walks into adventures by making scavenger hunts; read your favorite childhood books together; or, bring out your kids’ inner chef by cooking and baking together. You can also ask your child’s physical or occupational therapist for ideas to incorporate IEP goals into these activities.
Look into online classes, programs or learning apps. There are so many different choices available that you’ll find plenty to match your child’s interests. Your child’s special education teacher or school librarian may have lists of these resources to continue your child’s virtual learning this summer.
Your local public library is another great resource for activities and materials. You can also go to wplc.overdrive.com for online books for your child or yourself.
Take a virtual tour of the world. Get your old paper maps out or download one and learn about a new country each week using Google Maps or by watching some YouTube videos with your family. You can also include virtual tours of museums, national parks, and historic monuments. Both National Geographic and the National Park Service websites have great activities for kids to learn about the world.
Try to stick to a schedule. By now you’ve realized that your family is much more fun to be around if everyone has regular bedtimes and mealtimes. Try to keep other daily activities like reading, doing puzzles or playing games on a schedule. It’s also a good idea to limit screen time and encourage lots of outdoor time to help manage your children’s anxiety.
Finally, keep in mind that our “reimagined” summer might be less structured, less busy and less social than in the past, but there’s a bright side—We’ll have more time to enjoy our family, more chances to be creative and we’ll learn to appreciate the world a little closer to home. Remember, it’s worth living in this “new normal” to keep our kids with disabilities healthy and safe.
Tip for Families:
It’s important to know the facts! Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services (DHS) regularly updates state and local information about COVID-19.