Summer is Here: What Can My Special Needs Child Do all Summer?

baby girl beach shovel

In Don Peek’s last post, he spoke about the variability of summer services for kids all over the country, especially for special needs kids. We congratulate Don on his retirement, he tells us he’s going fishing! He’s earned the rights.

I come to you as a new blogger: my name is Neva Fenno and I have been an educator and school administrator for 30 years. I began my career in Buffalo as a special education teacher. My years in the classroom were rewarding and I’m full of stories about them. When I came to New England in the mid-90’s, I was finishing a master’s program in library and information science. I confess I bring to all my blogs a library bias that is impossible to shake. Technology has revolutionized libraries but there is no substitute for a good librarian and a good book!

For all your summer needs, start with your school librarian. She or he will no doubt have access to schedules, brochures and local phone numbers to help you begin searching for an appropriate summer activities list for all of your children, not just special needs kids. The library may have even bookmarked some Internet sites on the public access computer terminals. They will link you to community resources that may be helpful. Your local public library will take your search to a new dimension and hopefully fill in any gaps you may still have in the schedule you are creating for the kids. I’ll provide some links below for national organizations, all of whom have chapters in communities close to you. Somewhere in that mix, you’ll be able to find wholesome activities, some for the whole family.

young boy have fun in water at sea

Now that you’re well-stocked with ideas you may wonder still about rainy days. Check around the house for old board games, puzzles and books you’ve put away that you can dust off for those occasions. If you don’t have a computer at home, in some ways you’re better off.  I’m a big proponent of technology in schools and especially for special needs students. I became interested in library work when I noticed that special kids seem to love computers – they are non-judgmental and private. A student can read and not be reminded that he is a little slower than the student in the seat next to him. At the same time, he’s strengthening those vital skills. I do think, though, as a society we are all way too plugged in. Turn the thing off and sit down to have some quality time with each other. Achievement Products® has some great games and puzzles so you might want to stock up. Just type in “puzzle” in the search box or click here. Also at Achievement Products®, and at your library, you can select great books, here’s a list.

Below are some national organizations you will recognize, they may have local chapters with summer programs in your community. If your child has a physical disability, go to Google and type: “summer programs for children with physical disabilities”.

The challenge with this list is to not leave anyone out. But don’t tell me there isn’t something for your child to do this summer, any child!

Last but certainly not least, your child’s teacher, the Principal of your school, the gym teacher and of course your school library media specialist will all have ideas and be so happy you asked.

Do you have exciting summer plans or ideas you’d like to share? I love to hear about them in the comments section below.


National Education Association Grants For Educators (SPED too)
Awards: $2,000 or $5,000
Deadlines for applications are due February 1, June 1, and October 15.

Special Grants to Educators
The NEA Foundation frequently partners with other organizations to offer grants for projects in specific subject, grade, and geographic areas. Find out if any of our special grants align with the work you’re doing, and apply for these grants through the normal Student Achievement or Learning & Leadership Grant application.

The grants target these five concerns as areas of great promise in helping develop a sense of global awareness in 21st century students that will encourage and enable them to make a difference in their world. Both the NEA Foundation and Nickelodeon are strongly committed to supporting the development of these skills and attributes for America’s students.

The NEA Foundation – Nickelodeon Big Help Grants are in the form of Student Achievement Grants to K-8 public school educators. The Big Help Grants program is dedicated to the development and implementation of ideas, techniques, and approaches for addressing five key concerns — health and wellness, education, service, environmental awareness, and bullying.

The NEA Foundation
1201 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
T. 202-822-7840F. 202-822-7779