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Parents of Special Ed kids
May 7, 2003

You And Your Kid This Summer:


Build a gym. Yeah, really! Get a few pieces of exercise equipment from a thrift store or the want ads. Put them under a set up screen room. Or one of those covers for a yard you put your picnic table under, anything to keep the rain off. If you are really talented, a lean-to roof off the back of your house. Ours is set up in an unfinished barn.
Add a CD player and your kid will have his own place to go at a scheduled time, or anytime they want to, "derr… I need some time to myself!"
Exercise releases lots of good chemicals in the brain, burns off the energy the kid would have used on you, tires them out, and basically is a win-win situation.
If a friend comes over, bring snacks out to the kid's area and let them have their time.
Everybody needs a "spot" and if you don't give them one, they'll take all your good ones.

Post a list of "things to do" on the fridge. Start with watch TV, or play a video game, and work down to very physical items like exercise, mow the lawn, etc… If and when the kid says, "I'm bored" you get to play the "close your eyes and point to something on the list and then go do it" game. This will keep you from starting any sentence with the dreaded, "When I was your age…" or the even worse, "It isn't my job to entertain you." Eventually your kid will go to the list alone to play the game. Kids are bright; they'll aim for high on the paper if they just want permission to watch TV.
Leah says her kids love computer games. They can't cheat and it keeps them busy for hours while they are learning. Shhh… don't tell them they are learning. Also, her kids love sorting things, anything. Be creative.

Visit your local Town Office; find out what classes and sports are being offered this summer. For example, in our town for $7. for the whole season, you can take your kid to the lake every morning for a swimming lesson. Not only will your kid burn off some energy, but also if you stick around after you might meet some people and new friends for your kid. Practice what you learned in today's lesson and by the time you get home your kid will be ready for a nap.

Visit your local church; find out what events are going on this summer. Sign up your kid for VBS, go to the yard sales, fundraisers, dances, teen clubs, etc…

Visit your local library; find out what events are going on this summer. Is there a group for kids of the same mental age?

Read the Northern Light Newspaper you get once a week in your mail. Also pick up the free Conway Daily Sun. There are a lot of local low cost and free events you can look into. Maybe you never thought about some of these things, but you won't know if you and/or your kid enjoy them unless you try.

Before this school year ends, get the books your kid will be using next year. Keep them on the coffee table all summer. Both of you can read them, get the kid familiar with them so there are no surprises to deal with during the next school year. You can even answer some chapter questions on lined pages now to get ready. It'll really help you later and keep the whole learning thing a part of the kid's life during the summer.
If there is a chapter on a certain country coming up next year, you can start collecting things out of magazines for it now. Pull out the file when the kids are working on that chapter next year and if there isn't an assignment for a collage, you can still make one for extra credit.
Read the books at night instead of a storybook. The material will be old hat next year and you'll both have a great year.

Volunteer. There are a lot of places that could use help, like nursing homes, animal shelters, church, library, public parks, the beach, etc… Get into the routine of doing stuff everyday. Instead of putting out school clothes and a book bag the night before, you can now set out grubby clothes and a few snacks in a bag. The key here is activity. Maybe there is an elderly neighbor that needs help with her yard, which would be good for one afternoon a week.
Warning: doing work in your own yard doesn't amount to activity; it is "child abuse." Really, just ask your kid.

Now that you've made it through another summer day you are faced with the night. Yup, there are TWO parts to the day. Both give your kid ample time to turn your hair gray, if you don't pull it out first.
If you have a kid that gets a second wind after supper, you need to plan something… anything… and keep it a regular routine. Kids really need plans and things to look forward to, just like adults.
Try one or more of these ideas for once a week nightly events, put them on the kitchen calendar in big bright letters. You can use this to your advantage, "Only 2 days to family movie night, we'd better get the house clean now so we'll have fun!"

Note: Notice how so many family activities involve, "Turn off the TV" in the directions? There is a reason for that. The only family night that should involve TV is the movie night. Even then, the TV is only turned on during the movie. TV is wonderful but will distract from the uniqueness of the night and the whole idea of spending time together as a family. These are the memories your kids will have later in life to hold dear. You don't want their favorite memories to be how Dad's feet stunk and the cat passed out, or some school field trip.

Maine Parent Federation
PO Box 2067
Augusta, ME 04338-2067
1-800-870-7746 (Maine only)
Open until 8:00 on Monday evenings.
Fax: 207-623-2148
Contact for information:
- 2003 Camp List for children with special needs.
- To find a local free public access computer to use.
- Information on your child's diagnosis.
- Information on violence prevention.

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