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9 Tips for Creating Summer Fun for Neurodiverse Kids

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January 03, 2024


Summer is here, and the time for fun has arrived. But for parents and teachers, creating summer fun may feel like a daunting task. The thought of keeping them engaged and entertained for months on end can be overwhelming. 

But don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. 

In this blog post, we will discuss nine tips for creating summer fun for your kids. Whether it’s sensory activities, outdoor games, or arts and crafts, we’ve got ideas for everyone.

9 Tips for Creating Summer Fun for Neurodiverse Kids

summer fun

Here are some tips to help you create an enjoyable and memorable summer experience. 

1. Plan Ahead

The summer months can be both exciting and overwhelming. With limited school support and fewer structured activities, it can be challenging to keep your child engaged and happy during the summer months. This is why planning ahead is so important. 

Having a schedule or routine can help your child feel more in control and comfortable during the summer months. When planning, sit down with your child and create a visual or written plan together. 

This can include activities that you plan to do, the time of day, the duration and any rules or expectations. It’s important to be flexible and listen to their feedback, but also provide clear guidelines to avoid confusion. 

2. Create a Sensory-Friendly Environment

Many neurodiverse children may have sensory sensitivities or preferences, which can make certain environments or experiences challenging. So, when planning summer activities, try to make them sensory-friendly. 

For example, if you’re going to the beach, bring noise-canceling headphones, sunglasses, sunscreen, and water to drink. If you’re having a barbecue, make sure to have a quiet space, away from the crowd, where your child can relax and recharge. 

Providing a comfortable and familiar environment can make all the difference in creating summer fun for the kids.

3. Find Engaging and Meaningful Activities

One of the challenges of summer is finding activities that are not only fun but also meaningful and engaging for your kids. They might have special interests or talents that can be fostered and valorized. 

Try to think outside the box and tailor your activities to your child’s individual needs. For instance, if your child loves nature, you could organize a scavenger hunt in your local park. Make a list of items they can find, such as different types of flowers or insects. This activity will not only keep them engaged but also helps them learn more about the environment and nature. 

Another activity that might be enjoyable for your child is cooking. You can organize a cooking class at home and teach them how to make their favorite meal or dessert. Cooking involves multiple skills, such as following instructions, measuring ingredients, and using kitchen utensils. Moreover, it’s also a great opportunity to teach your child about healthy eating habits. 

If your child is into music, you could take them to a concert or organize one in your backyard. You could hire a local band or DJ to play your child’s favorite tunes. Music has a therapeutic effect on kids, particularly those who are neurodiverse, and might help them feel more relaxed and less anxious. 

Finally, if your child loves museums, you could take them to one that aligns with their interests, such as art, science, or history. Museums offer many interactive exhibits that can be fun and educational for children. Moreover, it also provides an opportunity for children to learn about different cultures, historical events, and scientific discoveries.

4. Practice Social Skills in a Safe, Positive, and Controlled Setting

With sensory overload from heat and crowds, and a break in their usual routines, it can be hard for these kids to feel comfortable. A great way to help them feel more relaxed and engaged in social activities this summer is to encourage the practice of social skills in a safe and positive setting.

Instead of planning a big event, consider organizing a small group gathering where each child brings a dish or activity to share. This type of setting can help kids practice social skills in a non-threatening context.

Another fun idea? Collect games of different types and let the kids pick their favorite. Use this as an opportunity to practice skills like turn-taking and sharing. This is a great tip for parents, grandparents, or even educators to help create a fun, relaxed environment for practicing these social skills.

A scavenger hunt is another perfect summer activity that can engage kids to interact while also teaching social skills. It encourages cooperation, communication, and teamwork with their peers. Consider involving a mix of colors, shapes, and objects to provide a challenge. When the kids are playing in a group, be sure to provide lots of praise and encouragement. 

Finally, water play activities can help children practice skills like sharing and taking turns while enjoying a summer splash. Again, start small, with sprinklers and maybe even squirt guns or a water balloon toss. 

5. Embrace Sensory Play

Sensory play is a great way to create fun for your kids this summer. It can help children of all abilities develop their physical, emotional, social, and cognitive skills in a fun and engaging way.

A sensory table is a great way to encourage your child to engage in sensory play. You can easily create a sensory table at home by using a large plastic bin or a kid-size water table. You can fill it with a variety of materials such as sand, water beads, rice, beans, or even shaving cream. This activity will help develop your child’s fine motor skills, imagination, and creativity.

Again, you can also use water play as an opportunity to cool off on a hot summer day. You can fill a kiddie pool with water, add some bath toys, and let your child splash around. Playing with water can help your child build their coordination, balance, and social skills.

Taking your child on a nature walk is an excellent way to stimulate all their senses. They can touch, smell, and see all the wonderful things nature has to offer. You can also create a scavenger hunt by making a list of items your child has to find such as a feather, a leaf, or a rock. This activity will encourage your child’s curiosity, attention to detail, and problem-solving skills.

Last but not least, the classic – sensory bins. These small containers filled with various items such as sand, spices, or water beads, and plastic figurines can provide hours of entertainment. Sensory bins can help your child improve their focus, attention, and imaginative play.

6. Use Technology as a Tool, Not Just as a Distraction

It may seem ironic, but technology can be an excellent tool for engaging and enhancing your child’s learning over the summer break. However, you need to use it as just that – a tool, and not a crutch.

Technology is not always about mindless entertainment. There are numerous educational apps that can help kids learn new skills in a fun and interactive way. These apps are designed to provide a multisensory approach to learning, making information more accessible to children with specific needs. 

Watching virtual field trips can be a great way to expose your child to new experiences without leaving the house. From a safari to a historical site, your child can explore the world from the comfort of your home. Virtual field trips can provide excellent engagement by providing a multisensory experience.

Technology can even help make socializing easier. For instance, gaming networks can help your child connect with like-minded peers.

7. Focus on Self-Care and Well-Being 

Summer can be a time of relaxation and self-care, but it can also be stressful and overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to focus on self-care and well-being for both you and your child. 

Make sure to prioritize sleep, exercise, healthy meals, and relaxation. Encourage your child to express their emotions and needs, and teach them coping strategies for stress or anxiety. Take breaks when needed, and don’t pressure yourself or your child to be perfect or to meet expectations. 

8. Involve the Whole Family 

Summer fun doesn’t have to be just for the children. The whole family can participate and enjoy the activities described above together. This can create a sense of unity, joy, and of course, the quality time you all crave.

You can plan family trips, have picnics, play board games, do DIY projects, or have movie nights. Make sure to involve everyone in the planning and execution, and listen to each other’s preferences and ideas. It matters less what you do and more that you are spending time together as a family. 

9. Celebrate Progress, Not Perfection

Finally, remember that summer fun is not about perfection or achievement, but about progress and growth. Your child might experience setbacks, challenges, or mistakes, but these are opportunities for learning and improvement. 

Celebrate their efforts, achievements, and milestones, no matter how small they might be. Provide constructive feedback, but also praise and encouragement. And most importantly, have fun, relax, and enjoy the summer with your child.

Final Thoughts

kids playing outside

Summer is a chance for your child to shine and learn in their unique way. As you plan your summer activities, tailor them to your child’s interests, while also exposing them to new experiences. 

Whether you try new hobbies, explore nature, or have fun at community events, your child will appreciate that you’ve taken the time to plan a summer filled with love, learning, and fun. 

Remember, with the options above, the possibilities for creating summer fun are endless!

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a passionate special education teacher with [number] years of experience, uses her classroom knowledge to craft engaging stories that celebrate the unique strengths of all learners.