Summer is the BEST time of all to help kids with executive function challenges learn how to get things done!
No, I’m not kidding.
I know that part of you wants to take the summer off, because the school year can be so stressful.
But actually, being out of school is an amazing opportunity help kids learn self-management skills – and learn how to get things done in the summer (that they can then apply when school gets back in session)!
When there are things that KIDS want to do, you can use that to get buy-in for other tasks that need to get done, teach them to identify their motivators, and involve them in practicing planning skills.
The picture above is a real example of a summer “planning session” I had with one of my kids (a few years back). It’s not fancy. It’s not complicated. And it may not look like much.
But its simplicity is the beauty of it, actually. Because baby steps are the best way for our kids to learn.
As you can see, my child wrote two columns on the page. The first were the things she wanted to do that summer – her “bucket list” for the summer. She wanted to go to Six Flags, see some friends, and make sure she had some time at the pool.
The next column were the things she knew were expected of her – to clean out her room, get her stuff ready for sleep-away camp, and read her summer reading books for school. I helped her remember what was on that list.
There are a million different ways we could have gone once she developed this list. We could have talked about scheduling and time management, estimating the time it would take to clear out her room and planning when she would do that, with mini-rewards of afternoons at the pool culminating in a weekend trip to Six Flags.
Or we could have talked about chunking tasks and the value of motivation, teaching her to identify the different parts of her room that needed to get cleared out, and setting up a motivator for herself as a reward for each section was completed.
We could have body-doubled, and planned to go to the pool together with our books, with social time after her friends arrived. We could have made a date to go shopping for fun stuff for camp once she figured out what she had and what she still needed. And the list goes on.
As you can see, summer is an incredible opportunities to teach kids how to get things done. When kids learn to motivate themselves based on what is important to them, they learn skills they can use at other times.
Yes, it takes a little more effort than turning on the video or dropping them off at the pool. But if you’re going to have to teach planning skills and help your kids learn to motivate themselves, anyway – and yes, you are the one who needs to do that! — then you might as well doing in the summer when then living is easier, and the stressors are back in the little red school house.