Isn't summer the time to kick back and relax to enjoy some time catching up on all of the projects you've put off during the hustle and bustle of the three other seasons? When I speak with other parents, many of whom have children who have special needs, it seems that the opposite is true. The kids are home and we are compelled to fill their days from sun up to sun down.
Before I had children I balked at the notion of having multiple memberships to "kids places," as Melissa, my business partner, loves to remind me. In the past 3 1/2 years since Harry was born we have joined: The Philadelphia Zoo, The Please Touch Museum, Sahara Sam's, Storybook Land, The Adventure Aquarium in Camden, and I'm sure I'm missing others. We have dwindled down to just Storybook Land since we moved 9 months ago, but continue to keep the kids involved in something, the pool, the beach, the playground , the park, the Cape May Zoo, and many other day trips, on top of going to school two mornings per week.
It's as if we as parents are searching for ways to entertain our children, but we may be missing out on teaching our children how to entertain themselves. I remember going to my mother when I was younger and reporting, "I'm bored." Her response was usually the same, "Go outside and figure out something to do." I am not advocating for my 2 and 3 1/2 year olds to play outside by themselves (yet), but what I am realizing is that following their lead with what surrounds us may make for more creative and healthy children.
For the many parents whose children need extra "practice" with communicating and interacting with those around them I salute your efforts to keep your children actively engaged to promote development. I caution you though to remember that they are just kids and can be come overwhelmed by over-involvement. What we see as play during a sports or arts camp, which should be pleasurable, could actually be taxing on their young minds and bodies. Not only are the children learning the content of the camp, they are also trying to ascertain when to speak, what to say, when to pursue, when to back up, and how to modulate problem behaviors. It's better to choose one or two activities per day than to enroll the child in multiple programs which could be exhausting for the child.
In an attempt to follow my own suggestions the boys and I were at the park yesterday and I let them lead me on an hour long exploration of the woods. The two of them were simply content to throw rocks in the water, collect pine combs, and search for wildlife. I know they will get sucked into the digital entertainment world soon enough, but hopefully they will also enjoy spending time out doors, entertaining themselves and marveling at nature.