Keeping Building Social Skills During Summer Break
Summer is a great time to help kiddos build their social skills! There are many opportunities for kids of all ages to practice social interactions and fine tune their social skills before school begins again. Here are some ideas:
Themed camps are the best way to get even the most resistant child to participate in social activities with peers. The wonderful thing about themed-based camps is your child will likely find a peer who is also interested in the same topic. A friendship can begin based on that common denominator. Simply find your child’s interest and look for a camp related to that interest. For example, if your child enjoys everything to do with dinosaurs, look at local zoos or children’s museums for camps about dinosaurs. Local libraries, churches, zoos, parks and recreation centers will often have “themed based” camps. Themes will include everything from pirates to video games!
Water activities draw children of all ages! Most children love water activities in the summer. Plan a few hours at the local water park, beach, or pool. Once you are there, you are bound to find a child who is interested in playing the way your child is playing. Observe and then direct your child to that peer. You may have to scaffold the interaction by asking the child’s name and age or telling your child what to say. However, you will find after the first few moments, kids will likely forget the awkwardness and engage in some fun water play.
Play dates can also give opportunities for social practice. Call a friend who your child shares interests with and arrange a playdate. One thing I always recommend to parents is to find a neutral ground for the playdate. Meeting at a park or play area is best for children with social communication delays. It forces the interaction in a non-familiar way. The children can’t retreat to their safe places in their homes and ignore their friend who is visiting. It also eliminates the “sharing” issue that some children may have with their personal belongings.