The Holiday Break Is Not A Break
This may be the mantra of most parents and caretakers, but we know that it hits a little differently for the special needs parent. You don’t ever get a real break, do you? If we are being honest, time off of school or other activities that provide you with a tiny bit of relief for a portion of a day can be daunting. COVID hasn’t helped either, has it? And I know you want to be with that precious person that brings you so much joy, but… to call it a break? False advertising.
First, you are not alone.
Second, you are incredible.
Below is a compilation of entertainment options that don’t feel like straight-up screen time that could provide a little extra family fun over your upcoming holiday. Each situation is different, and it can be frustrating when someone makes a suggestion that doesn’t fit your loved one’s ability level, but as a special educator for students with severe and profound disabilities, I am the queen of adaptations so bring on the challenges in the comment section. I’ll do my best to come up with some modifications to allow for optimum participation by all!
Virtual family field trips
Ok, I pulled one straight out of the classroom now that you know I teach. Here are some links to some neat places to go from the comfort of your own home.
To make this extra special, I suggest setting up the whole experience as real as possible. So, let’s pretend that we are going to visit the San Diego zoo via their live feeds. That means, our dining room table is now a car, and we are driving and jamming out to good songs and having road trips snacks. For admission into the park, we’ll provide our tickets (sticker, cut-up piece of paper, whatever) to the parent in the doorway of the living room, and our first stop is the gorilla cages- already cued up on the tv/computer/device. It does take a little bit of planning to make it a memorable experience, but there is so much to choose from if you explore the links above.
Craft Ideas: (Yes, I stole some of these ideas from Pinterest. Or all of them.)
- Creating an ugly Christmas sweater – this is a great fine motor activity. Cut out a sweater-shaped piece of paper. Use old buttons, rocks, faux fur, grass, or whatever you find, to glue onto the paper. Prizes for the ugliest sweater!!! On that note, you can make ornaments the same way…but they can be pretty.
- Creating Christmas sensory play bins together is an awesome resource! She’s got some great ideas. I love the candy cane pipe cleaners.
- Making Christmas tree playdough
Try to remember what you loved to do when you were on break back then:
In our house, a fort made out of sheets, pillows, sleeping bags, etc. could entertain us kids for hours. Something about making your own tiny space in your room made you feel bigger. We also got down with some board games. I know that’s not for everyone. I definitely have no desire to play board games with my tornado of a child, but there’s always twister!
Family dance parties. Enough said.
If you have ideas to add, we would love to hear them! Please let us know if you had success with any of these activities or even if you didn’t!
Meet your blogger
Brianna Edgerton is a special education teacher and an exceptional children’s beginning teacher mentor in her district. She has worked with students and other individuals with special needs for many years. Her love for people of all ability levels began as a child when she often went to work with her mother who was a home health nurse. Brianna graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern State University and an Associate’s degree in Telecommunications from Bossier Parish Community College. She later completed her teaching certification with Western Carolina University and is a licensed special education teacher. As a journalist, Brianna previously lived and worked at a Children’s hospital in Ethiopia, blogging for CURE International in order to provide financial support for children’s orthopedic operations. Brianna is now a wife and mother of two. She splits her time between North Carolina (during the school year) and Arizona (on summer and winter breaks).
She welcomes all questions and conversations! firstname.lastname@example.org