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5 tips for managing and having fun during the summer holidays

Summer holidays are fast approaching and for foster carers this can feel like a challenging period. For children who are looked after change can be daunting and difficult to manage. The change in routine can threaten their ‘secure base’ and make then more anxious and nervous about the days to come. As foster carers this can be an opportunity to strengthen their attachments with the child.

Listed below are some tips from Baljit Kaur, Therapist and Social Worker at Fitzgerald Fostering, to support families to enjoy summer.

1. Create a visual countdown and timetable
Children may respond better to visual cues than verbal explanations, and young children in particular have a limited concept of time. It can be more effective to visualise what they’ll be doing and when they’ll be doing it. Use a calendar to cross off days until the holidays begin, and / or cross off each day during the holidays, and maybe draw pictures on certain days that you have activities planned. For example, a scribble of a bucket and spade denotes your planned trip to the seaside. It’s important to be flexible and listen to their feedback, but also provide clear guidelines to avoid confusion.

2. Set a routine/Maintain your schedule
While you may never be able to duplicate the structure school provides, it helps to maintain the same routine wherever possible. It can be very tempting to let children stay up late and sleep in – especially on weekends when you want to do the same – but in the long run, a consistent routine around bed times, meal times etc benefits you and the child, they feel more comfortable and hence more cooperative

3. Talk to your child
Empathise with your child about how they might be feeling and validate their emotions rather than dismissing them by saying: “It’ll be fine”, “Don’t worry” or “You’re a big boy / girl now.” Explore how they are feeling by observing behaviour, then ‘wondering / noticing / guessing’. For example, you could say: “I guess you might be feeling a bit worried about the holiday club. That’s really normal. It’s hard starting something new.” Suggest planning together to alleviate anxiety, such as: “Let’s think about what we can do to make it less scary. I wonder if it would help to…” This is the time to help express emotions, offer validation and give them the much-needed reassurance they need during these unsettled times.

4. Find Engaging and Meaningful Activities
One of the challenges of summer is finding activities that are not only fun, but also meaningful and engaging for children. Try to think outside of the box and tailor your activities to your child’s individual needs.

Get outdoors as much as possible physical activity is good for everyone’s mind, body and spirit especially children with energy to burn.

It may seem ironic, but technology can be an excellent tool for engaging and enhancing your child’s learning. However, you need to use it as just that – a tool and not a crutch.

Technology is not always about mindless entertainment. There are numerous educational apps that can help children learn new skills in a fun and interactive way. Watching virtual trips can be a great way to expose your child to new experiences. Technology can be used to help prepare children for activities/days out.

5. Focus on Self Care and Well – Being
Summer can be a time of relaxation and self-care, but it can also be stressful and overwhelming. That’s why it is important to focus on self-care and well-being for both you and your child.

Make sure you prioritise sleep, exercise, healthy meals and relaxation. Encourage your child to express their emotions and needs. Take breaks when needed and don’t pressure yourself or your child to be perfect to meet expectations.

Ensure that you have a strong and trusted support network to help you through the summer months.

Finally, remember summer holidays are an opportunity for deepening attachments, learning and creating lasting memories for children.

 

AuthorFitzgerald Fostering

DateJuly 7, 2024

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