We are only a few short weeks away from summer break from school around here, and if you are a foster parent, or parent of a tough kid, like a child with ADD, ADHD or an attachment disorder, to name a few, the thought of days and days with your child looking to you and saying "I'm bored, "or worse, leaves you quivering in a cold sweat at night, I can help. I have faced this challenge year after year, and although I always do "the happy dance" when school starts back up again, me and my boys always get through it.
The key to a successful summer with minimal tantrums, episodes, blow outs, running –aways, fits, fights and other miscellaneous catastrophes is sticking to a schedule.
Schedules are just another word for "security" for kids with trust issues, like a lot of foster-kids, and help kids with attention-deficit issues know what to expect and when to expect it. Schedules help control the constant questions and demands, and provide a structure that mimics the school system- which is something the kids are used to and comfortable with. Kid's with behavior issues usually "spin-out" when school lets out because their structure is gone and the lack of structure allows anxiety to build.
So, having said that, begin the process of getting ready for summer break before school lets out. Get an idea of what their lunch time is at school, what time they have gym class, and what time they have quiet study.
Now, look at your own resources and schedule. If you have a parent full-time at home, decide if you want to continue to get the kids up and dressed at the normal school time, or allow for an additional hour of sleep (as a consideration for Mom or Dad only.) You will want to write additional chores in for each child for each day, since they won't be doing homework, and if you have children who need help with school, you may do homeschooling hours as well. You will want to do some physical activities as well, whether it is riding bikes, or participating in programs at the local YMCA.
Next, sit down with a large dry erase calendar and write in each day's time schedule. It should include times to get up, dressed and eat meals, bedtime, and naps for younger children. Write in each child's daily chores like washing dishes after meals, daily cleaning of their rooms, cleaning up after pets, folding their own laundry, whatever you need. Add in study hours for homeschooled children or kids' who are behind in school and need the added tutoring. Each day should have a leisure activity planned, like fishing, riding bikes, swimming, basketball or playing a team sport. Each child may have a special chore that they enjoy like gardening for one child, cooking for another.
I usually allow kids to stay in their rooms once they are settled for bed and read, or play quietly by themselves until lights-out.
Be sure to include your own weekly chores if you have to bring the kids with you, like grocery shopping.
Once you have the week written in, stick to it as best you can. Of course, things come up, but the waking and bedtime hours should stay the same as much as possible, and chores should remain consistent as much as possible. The closer you stick to the schedule, the easier your child will be to handle and the less agitated and anxious their own behavior will be.
When you are happy with the schedule, put it under plastic or Plexiglas and hang it on the wall where kids can read it and know what to expect for each day, but cannot erase your hard work!