Executive Functioning and School to Summer Transition

Executive Functioning and School to Summer Transition

Diverse group of kids smiling and wearing bookbags running down school outdoor hallway
Written by Mallory Band, Founder of Band Together Education
Published on: May 30, 2024
Category Executive Function
Transitions are Hard

The end of the school year is filled with warm weather, field trips, popsicles, and celebrations. Summer vacation is in sight and kids are thrilled for more freedom, while parents may be stressed about the upcoming transition. Any type of transition can be challenging for a child with ADHD or executive dysfunction. There is a level of uncertainty and discomfort associated with these changes. This does not mean that summer has to a constant tug-of-war between child and parent.

It’s important to remember that children with ADHD thrive with a predictable routine. So, with the last day of school looming and summer sunshine around the corner, start to prepare your family for the upcoming transition.


Preview Summer Plans

You can casually, yet intentionally plant the seed with your child. Tell them how proud you are of their efforts and name a specific behavior or area you have seen improvement. Then, own how transitions impact you; normalize this. Don’t expect your child to automatically feel the same way, but when we, as adults, share our challenges with our children, they start to internalize they are not the only one to be experiencing a human emotion.

Instead of posing it as transitions are hard for you, we are going to do this; try, transitions can be hard for our family, so we are going to start making a plan now, before summer officially starts. By including your child in the conversation, you are promoting agency, choice, and voice. This is more likely to add buy-in on their part, which is key.

This conversation can serve as an opportunity to ask your child what they want to do this summer, i.e., special day trips, specific activities with friends, going to the pool. Give choices, rather than asking open-ended questions. After this lead-in, preview one required task, like going to Grandma’s for a week in June that might be less desirable or less familiar for your child. By previewing this now, you are opening the floor for clear communication for the upcoming transition. It will also give your child time to digest everything.


Right Before Summer Vacation Starts

Start visually mapping out the first two weeks major activities camps, practices, and lessons your child will be participating in. What type of calendar system does your family use? A paper calendar that hangs on the wall or refrigerator or a shared family Google Calendar. It depends on how old your child is, but sometimes both might be a fool-proof way to keep the entire family on track and in the loop. We don’t need to see the entire summer’s schedule right now, as this is far too overwhelming, and we can’t take in all of that information at once. Perhaps even a two-week glance is too much for your child. Pick a consistent day of the week, maybe Sundays, to sit down and update the family calendar, as a family. Get your child involved and participating. Rinse and repeat weekly or biweekly.

June Webinar Executive Function Thumbnail

WEBINAR: Building Executive Function Skills Over the Summer

Thursday, June 13, 2024 | 7:00PM – 8:30PM EST

Extended Access Available June 14 – July 14, 2024

This webinar is FREE but DOES NOT provide CE.

Register Free Today

Mallory Band has been in the special education field for over 10 years. She is an executive function coach and tutor. Mallory will provide an overview of the eight different executive function skills, explain why transitions are hard for children with ADHD and learning differences, as well as provide strategies to create a smoother transition from school into summer for your family. You will leave this webinar with tangible action steps and activities to help build your child’s executive function skills over the summer. Mallory will speak from her profession lens, as an executive function coach and special educator, as well as personal experience of living with ADHD and anxiety.

How to Build Your Child’s Executive Function Skills Over the Summer

Executive function skills are not only sharpened in academic settings. Summer is a great time to incorporate different types of activities that utilize critical thinking skills and require executive function skills to be firing.

Here are some examples of activities to implement this summer:

  1. Plan and organize local excursions in your Have your child help with the logistics.
    • What time do we need to leave to catch the Metro?
    • What restaurants are near by the museum we are visiting?
    • There is rain in the forecast; what should we pack with us?
  2. Family game night encourages turn taking, working memory, and This will be a fun opportunity to get the entire family together while secretly helping everyone work on their executive function skills. Plus, healthy competition is important!
  3. Pick a night once a week that your child is going to cook dinner or help cook dinner for the family, depending on their Following a recipe requires serious executive function skills. Cooking requires attention, cognitive flexibility, planning, organizing, and working memory, as well as self-monitoring. Help your child pre-select a simple recipe they feel comfortable starting with. Work with them to create a grocery list in advice of the night they are cooking.
  4. Let kids be Encourage free and spontaneous play, Lemonade and Yard Sales, imaginary play, exploration in nature.

Create clear expectations with your child. If you aren’t clear with the expectations, be sure to know their behavior will reflect that ambiguity. If your child is expected to complete daily or weekly chores, agree upon a day and time for this task to take place. We all know the “I’ll do it later” doesn’t work and only creates friction at home. Make the expectations visual until they become habitualized. If you are asking your child something verbally, with no visual component, consider it out of sight, out of mind.

Work together to build a routine that has built in flexibility. What are the non-negotiables each day? Showering? Walking the dog? 30 minutes of reading? We can use a plug and play approach to block out these “productive time.” Yes, actually draw out a daily schedule so we can see what our day looks like. This helps make time less abstract for children with ADHD. Purposefully leave free blocks in your child’s schedule. Work with your child to come up with 10 plus options to choose from. These might range from: biking, drawing, talking on the phone with a friend, videogames, to baking and watching a movie. If they don’t have pre-selected or determined choices, decision fatigue may set in, and an argument will ensue.

Schedule one-on-one time with your child at least once a week. This could fit into your child’s schedule where homework time used to be during the school year. Allow your child to pick something that showcases their strengths or interests, not something that you want to do. Lean into the discomfort and hop on the skateboard or pick up the videogame console with your child.

There is likely the dreaded summer homework packet. Work with your child to pick two or three days a week and times that they are going to work on chipping away on this work. Play to your child’s strengths, when are they most productive? Do not expect them to complete 30 minutes of homework after being outside for the last eight hours at summer camp.

Summer is supposed to be a fun and relaxing time of year for our children, but it’s important to strike a balance between routine and complete freedom.

Mallory BandMallory Band founded Band Together Education in 2022, which is a community that helps individuals with ADHD and learning differences reach their full potential. She believes that building and fostering meaningful relationships with clients is the first step in creating a successful partnership. She is passionate about helping others realize and reach their true potential by instilling a growth-mindset approach to her coaching repertoire. She coaches students, young adults, and parents.

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