Programs to Help Children Get the Most Out of Summer

Young student writingSummer is fast approaching, and parents know that all that free time can be challenging to fill. We’re often asked how to organize summer plans that allow children to improve academic skills, or prepare for the social challenges of the next school year – and still be kids and have fun. The good news is that there are a number of fun and effective summer programs that can really help kids, if you know what you’re looking for. Many offer ways for children to stay engaged throughout the summer and are designed to help children improve in a specific area with the support and company of their peers.

Writing is an area where kids, especially middle schoolers, can always use some extra help. Even the most skilled writers can benefit from a structured way to approach writing assignments. Look for a program offering an interactive, fun, and scientifically proven curriculum with brief assignments throughout the summer. Ensure there is a writing assessment before the start to identify areas of weakness and establish a baseline so you and your child can see how he improves throughout the summer.

The program staff should use that initial assessment to develop a learning plan tailored to your child’s unique needs. Look for a program where students receive a combination of both group and individual instruction so you can be confident that your child is focusing on exactly what he needs.

The summer break also offers a great opportunity for children to overcome or improve the symptoms of anxiety disorders such as phobias, separation anxiety, social phobias like selective mutism, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Intensive group behavioral treatment programs designed specifically for these disorders provide a safe place for kids to learn from their peers and practice overcoming their fears.

Most programs will create scenarios such as a simulated classroom or outdoor field trips that facilitate exposure to real life situations where anxiety symptoms are triggered. They also often have a parent training component to teach you how to best support your child.  Again, look for programs that will offer a mix of group and individual treatment to ensure that your child’s specific symptoms are targeted. These programs are usually offered at the end of the summer to help get kids ready to start the new school year with confidence.

Time away from school gives families and children an opportunity to recharge after the most recent school year and reset for the next. Summer programs are designed to give children more confidence in themselves and in their abilities so they can return to school with a great outlook. But however you spend your summer, be sure to enjoy this time with your children, help them keep learning, and have fun!

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Rachel Busman, PsyD, of the Child Mind Institute, is a clinical psychologist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of anxiety and mood disorders in children and adolescents. Dr. Busman earned her doctoral degree from the University of Hartford’s Graduate Institute of Professional Psychology. She completed both her pre-doctoral internship and post doctoral fellowship at the Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut, specializing in the treatment of children and adolescents. Dr. Busman has been featured as a clinical expert on NBC’s TODAY Show, MSNBC and CNN and is a contributor for Parents.com. Child Mind Institute offers summer programs for children to improve their academic skills and prepare socially for the next school year, such as Summer Scribblers , Brave Buddies and Fearless Friends.

The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog contributor’s. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Writers may have conflicts of interest, and their opinions are their own.

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