As a parent of a Complex Learner, chances are you’ve heard our tips before for summer vacation. Sticking to a routine. Integrating learning into everyday activities. Monitoring sugar intake and sticking with a consistent bedtime routine. You’ve heard it all. While we still recommend, following those tips for a successful summer, this time we’re sharing our top recommendation for a regulated and fun summer – get outside!
This summer, encourage your child to spend as much time outside as possible. Both structured and unstructured time outside has shown incredible benefits for keeping Complex Learners regulated. Along with providing a fun way to spend a summer afternoon, there are countless benefits for outdoor play for Complex Learners.
Increased regulation and focus
Along with being restorative, time outside can lead to increased regulation and focus. This is because as children play outside they are getting the movement, and sometimes heavy work, they need to keep their bodies and minds calm and regulated. In addition, time outside has been shown to improve ADHD symptoms for children including increased focus.
Whether it’s through increased physical activity or the sense of calm that comes with being outdoors, improved sleep often accompanies increased time outside. A study of 2- to 5-year-olds showed that children who play outdoors sleep better at night (Deziel 2017). Not only does this lead to a happier child but it also leads to a more balanced child.
A natural opportunity for social interaction and learning
When children have unstructured time outside to play, it provides them with a natural opportunity for social interaction with siblings, relatives, or peers. As they engage in a game of tag or invent an entirely new game, your child is learning and practicing the skills needed for successful social interactions like turn-taking, empathy, listening, and more. Also, as they explore nature, they are exposing themselves to learning with each new discovery whether it’s seeing a baby bunny or watching flowers bloom from buds.
Now that you know the benefits of time spent outdoors, it’s time to encourage your child to go outside! While older children might be capable of coming up with new ideas and activities to do outdoors by themselves, younger children might need some help coming up with ideas.
Here are 7 activities your child can do outside this summer:
- Family walks after dinner
- Build your own obstacle course
- Go to a park or playground
- Outdoor scavenger hunt
- Bring your sensory diet outdoors
- Help with gardening
- Unstructured time in the backyard or in a park
Whatever you do outside, you and your child are both sure to notice the positive effects some sunshine and green space can have! Let us know in the comments below some of your favorite ways to spend time outside!
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