Looking for activities for children with special needs and feeling overwhelmed?
I get it. As a mother to a special needs son, sometimes I wanted to pull my hair out not knowing how to get him focused and on task. And my heart ached for him with all his struggles. I didn’t know what to do!
But looking back now that he’s 22 and by the way a wonderful young man with a bright future, I see that there were activities that helped both of us.
So here are these 5 activities for children with special needs:
1) Reading Aloud
This was our favorite activity to do together. Whether it was the Bible, a history book on Egypt, or a fun fiction book like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, this time helped us bond, calmed him down, and helped him transition to our studies.
While I was reading, I let him do something with his hands, whether play with play-doh, draw, or even eat.
2) Physical Activity
Before we attempted any type of school, physical activity was a must. This could have been jumping on a mini-trampoline, playing with the dog, taking a hike, sword fighting with boffer swords, or using an activity in the book Out of Sync Child Has Fun.
Here’s the deal: in order to do well in school, a child, especially one with special needs, HAS to activate their brains FIRST with exercise.
One of the best ways to activate their brains is to do exercises that cross the midline of their brains. The easiest exercise we would do together is something called the cross crawl.
3) Pop the Balloon!
So this was one of my favorite all time activities for children with special needs—
I drew an addition math table on a cheap white shower curtain with permanent marker. Then I blew up some balloons and stuck them on some numbers.
Then I would yell out a formula like 3+3 and my son Sam would shoot the balloon on the answer with his airsoft gun. Of course a nerf gone would work just as well!
He did learn his addition pretty well with this activity!
4) Family Art Projects
Another activity I remember with fondness was family art projects. One semester we created a model of the tabernacle. We read the Scriptures and we all built parts of the model. My husband helped Sam with the pillars and I helped him with all the sewing. The result—a beautiful tabernacle that we still have today!
My husband and our son would draw together since he was seven. That’s when I noticed Sam was drawing in 3D! He drew and drew and improved so much. When we first started homeschooling in second grade, enrolling him in a fine art school was one of the first things I did.
5) Time for Self-Directed Learning
This is probably the most important activity that I did for Sam—I let him have time to research and study on his own.
He first started with dinosaurs. Then it was World War II. He’s still going strong today. He told me recently that he was learning how to read Russian Cyrillic script. He completed his high school work doing this!
Whatever activity you choose to do with your special needs child, choose one that you both will love and you’ll stop pulling your hair out. In fact, you will cherish the time together and your child will grow.
And trust me, your child will grow fast and before you know it they’ll be totally grown up!