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Outdoor Fun in the Sun!

Summer can be one of the most difficult times to program for children with special needs. Here are a few points to keep in mind when planning for inclusion within the group.

  • Many children with special needs require the consistent structure a childcare program offers, even in the summer. So remember that the daily routines need to be consistent.
  • When there are special events help the children to adjust by planning with the children and rehearsing the skills necessary for them to be successful. The chance to practice will give the anxious child a sense of familiarity when the actual event happens.
  • Try to build up to large events or trips rather than starting off with them in July. This may allow the child with special needs to build their skills throughout the summer. 
  • Staff should visualize field trips beforehand in order to anticipate and plan responses for potential “problem times”. This preparation will give the staff a sense of calm and create a consistent response to potential behaviours.
  • When preparing for trips consider the children in your groups that are challenged by transitions. Plan ahead of time how this will be handled so all the staff are consistent. 
  • When pairing up small groups of children with a staff for trips remember to consider the dynamics of these small groups. Will they compliment one another or feed off each other? 
  • Summer is often a time staff take their holidays. Remember that this change in staffing may effect children’s behaviour. Prepare the children for these changes.
  • When extending outdoor play staff also need to consider the interests and developmental levels of all the children; have you provided many learning areas outside besides just sand and tricycles? Are there books, puzzles and colouring stations available or options to play indoors?
  • Although it is tempting to stay outside all day in the terrific summer weather remember that there are sun safety precautions to take, for the children and yourself! Toronto Public Health can provide you with all this information.