Summer vacation: How to engage children with special needs during this time
Summer vacation with children: Experts suggest that when a special child becomes part of an inclusive environment, they are able to improve social and communication skills as well as self-esteem.
By Dr Vandana Sharma
Summer vacation ideas for kids: Summer holidays are always the best time for children, filled with sports, swimming, games, dance and making new friends. Kids with special needs are no exception. In fact, for children with special needs, specially designed group activities create an opportunity to develop their skills and identify their greater potential. Summer group activities can range from activities like yoga, music, creative art, theatre to tour around the city to engage these young minds.
Some parents prefer to send their child in group activities especially designed for kids with special needs where there are recognised trainers and teachers for better supervision. When kids find it difficult to adapt, a special trainer assists them in feeling comfortable in a particular setting. Parents are concerned about safety and security of their kids and choose special settings and groups. Others may opt for a group activity where typically developed children are also involved. This is to let the specially-abled kid have some fun in an inclusive environment. This helps specially-abled kids to develop individual as well as teamwork skills. Experts suggest that when a special child becomes part of an inclusive environment, they are able to improve social and communication skills as well as self-esteem.
Choices may be different but parents unanimously believe that engaging a child in group activities during summer vacation is a great way to enable kids to develop new skills and let them explore new talents. Kids with special abilities find a whole new experience in such an environment, which is normally missing in the regular classrooms.
Developing good social skills
Group activities during the summer break generally offer a great opportunity for children with special needs to enhance their social skills. These activities also provide a good platform for kids to come out of their shells and mingle with their peers. In a fun environment like this, kids also make friends and bond with other kids. These group settings are managed by specially trained staff, who know how help the child get into a comfort zone and try new activities.
There are an abundance of summer activities that kids can enjoy during their summer break. Some of these can be:
Summers are all about playing in parks and a good amount of outdoor activities affect the child both physically and emotionally. Special activities like yoga are planned in such a way that kids can enjoy physical activities that will eventually make them fitter and physically aware.
According to their individual abilities, kids may get involved in preparing simple meals. This way, children with special needs are encouraged to learn new skills while actually performing tasks and gaining a new vocabulary. During the meal preparation, kids also interact with each other and get a chance to share their experience.
Visual art is all about how you perceive things. Experts believe that special people see the world in completely different ways and photography can become one medium to bring out that vision on paper. Special children can learn the nuances of camera handling to printing photographs. This can even become a life-changing experience for many kids.
Kids love to paint, draw, mould clay and indulge in other creative activities, which are a great way for them to express themselves. Activities like moulding with clay and pottery also gives children a chance to sharpen their fine motor skills.
Special educators believe that it is always a better idea for special kids to engage in productive activities during the summer break. Parents also find it difficult to come up with activities that will keep their kids busy. Some schools chalk out an elaborate plan for every kid according to their needs for summer holidays. This includes their routine, specific activities and exercises. All parents are given sufficient time to clear doubts to assist their child during holidays before the school finally closes. Such initiatives from school are always welcomed by parents and kids.
Apart from these activities, parents of special children can also utilise the holiday time to let the kids bond with their typically developed siblings. Specially-abled kids along with their sibling should be encouraged to participate in group summer activities together that will help them bond well.
(The writer is Director and Principal, Mata Bhagwanti Chadha Niketan.)
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