Once again, it is almost the end of the school year. This post from last year gives suggestions on how to help your kids make one last push before summer begins.
Dealing with end of the year burnout can be a frustrating time for teachers, parents, and children. By the time May comes around, dreams of pools, summer vacations, and play dates dance in our little one’s heads, which can make for very stir-crazy kids. Here are a few tips to help keep our kids going for the last few weeks of school.
- Try to get your kids moving before school. Even if it is only for 5-10 minutes, allowing your children to move their bodies before school will help to increase their focus, create a better level of arousal, and get their bodies and brains ready for sitting still, learning, and getting through those end of year tests. Have him or her bear walk (walking on hands and feet) or crab walk to the bathroom, kitchen, or front door or having them push a weighed laundry basket during every transition. Jumping jacks, frog jumps, marching, rolling, and pushing or carrying heavier objects are a few ways to get good sensory input in the morning.
- Prepare a sensory-smart breakfast. Resistive sucking is great for organizing the body, improving self-regulation, and fostering ability to focus and attend. Place a straw in your child’s yogurt or applesauce instead of giving him a spoon. Smoothies are also a great breakfast food that provides wonderful early morning sensory input. If you are okay with allowing your child to chew gum, give him or her a piece to chew on the way to school and then spit it out before getting out of the car (really resistive gum such as double bubble provides more sensory input).
- Teach your child sensory exercises to perform at school as needed. If they find themselves getting in trouble with the teacher, having difficulty sitting still, or struggling with focusing on their work, there are several discreet exercises that can help get them through the day. Chair push-ups, shoulder scrunches, chair squeezes, pushing hands together, hooking fingers and pulling hands apart, and giving yourself a hug are a few exercises than can be helpful.
- Pack a sensory smart lunch. Crunchy foods help to increase your level of arousal and can help get your little one get through the afternoon slump. Healthy crunchy foods include veggie sticks, carrots, celery, apples, and pretzels. Chewy foods can be very organizing and regulating to the nervous system and can help kids stay focused through the afternoon. For those kids that are craving movement and additional sensory input, chewy foods can help give their bodies good sensory stimulation without participating in movement and touch than can be disruptive. Great chewy foods for lunch include fruit leather, bagels, raisins, dried fruit, beef jerky, and granola bars.
- If your child has homework or studying to be done, give them a chance to move their bodies and get out that extra energy before sitting down to complete their work. Try to allow your child at least 30 minutes to play after school. Encourage her to engage in activities that get her body moving, such as riding a bike, playing on the play set, running and jumping, pushing a wagon, playing tug-of-war, and participating in relay races that incorporate animal walks, jumping, or crawling. Other activities that provide good sensory input include drawing with sidewalk chalk, manipulating play dough or clay, playing in water tables or other sensory tables, and digging in the dirt. Limit screened activities, such as television, video games, and computers right after school.
- Prepare a sensory-smart snack. Get out those chewy foods and your straw in the afternoon to help your child re-regulate after school.
- If your child is having a hard time sitting at the table during homework. Give them movement breaks as needed, such as breaks to wheelbarrow walk, bear walk, or crab walk across the room, perform wall push-ups, or perform frog jumps. Your child may also be able to better focus if sitting on an exercise ball or lying on their stomach propping up on their elbows.
The end of the year is in sight. Only a few more weeks until your child will have the summer break about which they have been daydreaming. In the meantime, however, use these strategies to help decrease their (and your frustration) and help them stay focused!