Finding the Balance Between Structured and Unstructured Time In Summer

summer time.jpegMichael is enjoying summer camp, and I know that part of the reason is due to the kind of structured day he has there. He also likes that he has some choice in what he can do. Yet, even with that, he is asking when he will be home with me. This is due to the fact that there will be more unstructured time where he has my one-on-one attention, and the structure is decided partly by him and I. Walking this tightrope of balance is still relatively easy in the first part of the summer time. It will get trickier in August,  but by then there are only a few weeks left until school starts so we usually manage it well. There are also family vacations coming up in August, which is a whole other ballgame of structure and un structure.

The thing is that each family, exceptional or not, has to find out what works for them and their child. Summers are hard on a lot of children and thier families. What starts out as fun, summer vacation, may become a source of stress for some kids as they don’t know how to fill the time. All kids also need to learn how to be bored, get creative, and make their own fun. This is a whole other blog post for exceptional families, as kids with special needs often have great difficulty with using their imagination to entertain themselves. Or they will use it and play one game over and over as it is safe and predictable. For some children, their sensory needs are so great that stimming is done to a great extent and they get stuck on that reel. I have learned with Michael that giving him some choice as well as introducing him to some of my games has helped. Now that he is older, I am trying to push him out more on his own to experiment with playing. He will ask me, “can you show me how to play a game?” I am happy to do it and feed his imagination giving it that extra nudge.

Michael has also taught me the cool way his brain works, how he sees the world in the way he plays. He sees it through a lens of navigation, his imaginary friends, and through delights in food and music. He will also ask questions about things he hears, song lyrics and figures of speech. I am happy to answer them and get a glimpse into how he sees what is happening around him.

Exceptional Parents, how do you structure your child’s summer? Do you allow for a lot of downtime or just a bit? Do you let them ride through their frustrations? This is important for exceptional kids to learn to navigate. It will make them stronger, figure out what they want out of life, and will make summer more fun and full of adventure. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with autism has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence towards their child.

For more information on my coaching services, see my website:, and for a free 30 minute exploration/consultation session contact me at Also to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” click on

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