Another school vacation week is just around the corner, and kids can’t wait! For many parents, however, it’s a mixed blessing.
On one hand, school vacation gives you more quality time with your kids. But how are you going to keep them entertained for an entire week? This is an especially challengingquestion for parents who have children with special needs.
School-aged children with disabilities often have physical and emotional challenges that can makesome typicallyfun activities, well, not fun at all.Fortunately, there are more activities and options than there used to be for families with special needs. Here are just a few ideas:
- School Vacation Camps
It doesn’t need to be summer vacation for camp to be in session. Manyorganizations that offer kids’ activities also run mini-camps during school vacation weeks. And many of these include adaptive programs that accommodate children with special needs. If your child participates in art classes, for example, check with the art center to find out if they offer school vacation programs.
- Parks and Recreation Programs
Many local parks and recreation departments have adaptive school vacation programs designed for children with disabilities. In fact, there may even be a staff member who is 100% dedicated to serving this population. It’s definitely worth exploring what’s available in your town.
- Local Library Activities
It sounds so simple, and to some kids, maybe even boring. But don’t overlook your local library, which often plans a great variety of activities for school vacation weeks. Library staff members, especially in the children’s department, should be well equipped to accommodate kids of varying abilities.
- Nature Centers
Nature centers are a great resource for kids to learn about native animals and local ecosystems. And most are handicap accessible. These centers can offer a relaxed and quiet environment that might appeal to children with sensory sensitivities. Check out the U.S. National Park Serviceto find a park or center near you.
No need to pack your bags for this outing. Airports can be a fun place to visit for anyone, but especially for kids who love planes. Watching planes take off and land so close up can be a powerful experience. Just make sure it’s not too powerful if your young one is afraid of loud sounds.
- Children’s Museums
Visiting a children’s museum can be fun and entertaining—especially when the weather makes outdoor activities difficult. Museums designed specifically for kids are usually very accommodating for visitors with different needs.
- Pet Store or Zoo
Many kids love animals. But not everyone lives near a zoo. And even if you do, it may be too cold and wet to visit. Either way, visiting a zoo or pet store can keep kids entertained for hours. And it’s a great way to learn about animals.
- A Simple Walk
Believe it or not, fun does not have to be complicated or expensive. A simple walk in the woods or on the beach can be therapeutic for kids and parents alike. If you need a smooth surface to accommodate a wheelchair or stroller, look for a bike path or paved surface near a public park.
- Local Greenhouse
Visiting a greenhouse can be a fun yet quiet activity any time of year, but even more so when it’s cold and snowy outside. You and your kids can play “I spy” games or discover who can find the most yellow flowers or unusual plants first.
- Day Trip
Sometimes a change of scene is exactly what everyone needs. Take a drive to the country—or to the city—depending on where you live. The goal is the same: go somewhere different. Exploring somewhere new and different can feel like an adventure. And, if you’re driving, you have full control overwhen and where to go.
Every child has different needs. But children with disabilities have even more challenges. To make the most of your child’s school vacation week, make sure you plan ahead. Call the organizations you plan to visit to ensure they can accommodate your child’s needs. The more advance planning you do, the more fun you and your child will have together.