No sooner do holiday decorations get put away in January then special needs parents start to think about the long summer break and how they’re going to keep their kids busy all summer. Here in Florida the heat is stifling during the summer and since my son is heat sensitive, he has to be closely monitored outside.
For us, break starts at the beginning of June and the kids go back to school the third week of August. As a disabled mom, this presents a number of challenges since it’s hard for me to take him to places like the beach (45 miles away). Closer attractions like Busch Gardens and water parks are within driving distance but I can’t go there alone with him. And since we live in a rural subdivision, we don’t have a community pool.
Here’s a few summer activities I came up with:
Summer Activities for Kids With Special Needs
*YMCA – We can always go swimming there and our branch has some adaptive activities going on throughout the year.
*Camp – While the cost can be high, it can be made more affordable by investigating various scholarship options either from the camp itself, your local disability group or a community service organization.
*ESY – Extended School Year Services – This is no longer an option for us but since services vary from state to state (and county to county) it may be worthwhile to check out if your child qualifies.
*Movies – Our local theater offers free showings a couple of mornings a week for kids during the summer.
*The mall – Need to escape the heat? Go during the week when it’s less crowded. Grab something from Starbucks or ice cream, visit an Apple store (if you have one) or get a quick massage at Brookstone.
*Your local craft or home improvement store – Stores like Michael’s and Lowes often offer classes for kids.
*Theraputic Horseback Riding – See if any riding facilities are available in your area.
*Stay at home fun – This doesn’t have to be complicated. Let your child built a fort in the living room or lanai. Outdoor fun can be as simple as a kiddy pool, a hose or helping to wash the car. Try some new crafts that you may not have had time for during the year.
*Call a friend from school – Did your child have a buddy at school last year? They’re probably missing each other by now. Call the parents up and see if you can get together!
*Network with other families – If you don’t have a support group, consider starting a meet up with like minded families so you can get out of the house. You can set up dates for swimming and go out for ice cream or other social activities. Maybe you can even organize a much needed mom’s morning (or evening) out!
*Visit your local library – Besides books and movies, many library branches offer summer activities for kids.
*Intergenerational events – If you belong to a faith community, chances are there are some senior people who would love the chance to make a difference in the lives of our kids. Consider hosting neighborhood fellowship dinner or movie nights.
Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs
This doesn’t have to be scary or stressful. It can be as simple as “unschooling” using some of the activities I mentioned above. Pick a couple of goals to work on – maybe practice reading with flashcards or review physical, speech or fine motor goals.
Here’s a few resources to consider:
Five in a Row (This is the homeschooling program I used with my older kids. You’d probably have to adapt the lessons for your child but the books selections are so wonderful that they will be a great experience for both of you.
The Importance of Self Care for Special Needs Moms
In the eternal quest to keep our kids busy and learning, it’s all to easy to run ourselves into the ground. During the school year we’re busy enough with school, appointments and extracurricular activities. It’s perfectly okay for both of you to have some down time. You need that time of restoration and rest.
Special needs parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. When you properly pace yourself you’ll be able to move through the next leg of your journey with renewed strength and vitality.
This doesn’t necessarily mean a mani/pedi or a massage (though it would be nice!) It can be as simple as some gentle exercise every day, reading a book that you haven’t had time to get to, doing something creative or starting a meditation practice.
I’ve written extensively about the importance of self care for moms.
What kinds of summer activities do you enjoy with your kids?