Encourage Your Child’s Independence: Incorporate Orientation and Mobility Skills into Summertime Fun!

little girl with white cane (not Elizabeth)

Summer is in full swing and soon we’ll be celebrating the 4th of July! Most students are finished with school and everyone is busy with projects and summertime fun.

This is a great time for children of all ages to practice the orientation and mobility skills and concepts they’ve learned, but in a fun way. I have written activities that can be done at any time during the year but summer can provide lots of opportunities for these activities. There are appropriate O&M activities for children in their early years and a second article with O&M ideas for the more advanced elementary school and older kids.

These are just a starting point. Let your creativity take you to even more adventures!

If you feel you have to take a nap after reading the suggestions or feel it’s overwhelming, the one thing to take away from these articles is to think about involving your child in everyday things you’re doing, no matter how small it is.

Who knows? You might find a way to get him or her to help you lighten your own load while providing some time to expand your child’s repertoire! Or, the dream that every parent has, your child may start to come up with ideas on her own or even ask to help you!

Be assured, though, having some down time is good for everyone. If you’re the organized type and have a weekly schedule, you might want to discuss with your child about an activity and, depending on the age, involve him in the planning ahead of time.

For the older child, encourage her to get information about an event by making phone calls, or using the internet. It’s great for children to learn what type of information is needed for the family.

These are just a few examples of activities that would involve your child. Know that the more opportunities you give your child to ‘help’ you in any way, the more your child will feel good about himself and will gain the self-confidence which is the foundation to gaining greater confidence, skills, and desire to learn and interact more with his environment.

After reading all of this, you’re probably wondering how O&M fits into some of these activities. Giving your child more control of the environment through games and activities helps her become more confident in traveling and interacting with new and varied experiences. Orientation and mobility skills and concepts overlap in each area of the Expanded Core Curriculum and therefore, all of the above-mentioned suggestions will enhance your child’s ability to interact with the environment and better integrate into society.

These are just a few of the endless activities that summer affords. I do hope that this will start you on the road to a wonderful adventure with your child this summer, in giving your child the opportunity to be in the driver’s seat rather than a passenger in life’s experiences. Please feel free to share what you’ve got planned for this summer!