Knowing what to do with your children, with or without autism, on weekends and school holidays, can be difficult. Spending time at home is great, but children can have too much energy so finding things to do can be life saving. When cabin fever strikes, it is best to take them out somewhere plus there is the chance that they might learn something from the trip. It also gives them something to look forward to on break. For Logan, it made it seem more like a field trip which felt like his normal routine. This always helps him to maintain his sensory needs during what may be a hectic time of year.
There are so many theme parks both national and local to choose from for this one. You can organize full blown vacation to places like Disneyland or choose short jaunts to ones closer to home. Whatever you choose to do it can be a great day out for the whole family. Parents get to enjoy the same rides as the kids and perhaps enjoy some lovely theme park food such as cotton candy and donuts. As long as you bear sensory issues in mind and take precautions, you should be in great shape to make memories. Added bonus is that I’m sure there is something to be learned wherever you go. I know you would be hard pressed not to learn something at any Disney Park. These jaunts are also a great chance to work on therapy skills too.
If you do decide to travel abroad with your child with autism then there is no better time than during school vacation. This is away from anything like Disneyland, but instead, somewhere you can soak up some culture. Kids will learn a lot from just being in another country and learning about what is different and what is the same. You can be relaxed and do as much or as little as your child will allow. You might decide to go to the beach to relax in the sun, interact with locals, try national cuisine or see the culture. While you are abroad, it is worth taking a day or two to see the local sights and visit tourist attractions. This is a great way to work on episodic memories when you come back home and the places you’ve visited come up in their studies.
There are a lot of castles around the world that you can visit. Many of them are in Europe and the UK, so if you are ever in one of those countries, then you shouldn’t miss a visit. There is a certain grandeur in visiting these stone behemoths and learning about the people who once lived there. If you are a history buff family, or have a child who is interested in anything like that, then they will love visiting a castle. Any fan of Harry Potter will be over the moon excited to visit Alnwick Castle aka Hogwarts. Not leaving the United States? It would be fun to learn about the castles of Walt Disney World Parks as well as Universal.
The theater can be a tricky one. If your child has sensory needs that would make a night performance unbearable, there are still options available. Many theaters have matinees or dress rehearsals as well as sensory friendly performances. Visiting a theater is a great way for your kids to absorb culture as well as visually experience a story and performance. There are large and small theaters in most major cities, so you don’t need to go to Broadway or the West End to see some great performances. If you have slightly older kids who are studying a certain book, then looking into performances in a theater could help to engage them with the story. Alternatively, just seeing a play might inspire a child to follow a career in the performing arts. Regardless, you will be surprised how much they will learn in addition to how much fun it can be.
If you have a child who loves fish and all the other things that swim around in seas and rivers of the world, then a trip to the aquarium is an excellent choice. They will get to see all sorts of different marine species from around the world. Visiting an aquarium is a great way to inspire a child to follow their passion for marine biology or perhaps spark an interest in it. Many aquariums such as the SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium even allow the children to interact the with fish in certain ways so that they can enjoy all sorts of new experiences. There is something awe-inspiring about visiting an aquarium, touching the creatures and exploring everything it has to offer.
Going along with the animal theme, you could always visit a zoo. Similar to the aquarium experience, visiting a zoo will help kids to learn about the animals of the world in a fun as well as interactive way. It also teaches them all sorts of things from how to identify specific types of animal to why animal conservation is important. If you think you see a future animal-related profession for your child, then they’ve likely already begged you to visit the zoo. It is also a lot of fun for adults and doesn’t really have any sort of age limitation. Young or old can enjoy seeing the animals and learning about them. If you haven’t been to a zoo in a while, consider booking a visit.
Some museums are boring. It is an unfortunate truth. However, some can be really interesting. This is especially true if your child has an interest in a specific thing. Madison loves art so her idea of a fun outing is going to the art museum. Logan loves dinosaurs so the Natural History Museum is right up his alley. More museums are adding interactive elements like audio tours, so it is more than just looking at displays and reading information. This makes it more interesting and educational for both kids and parents. It also means that if you think your child might not enjoy a museum, you should first check on if they have an interactive exhibit. They are far more likely to have a great time if they get to actually do something rather than it feeling like a school trip.
These are just some fun ways we make school holidays fun yet educational. Everyone needs a break to have fun and let loose. One of the benefits for us of schooling year round is that we can take a break whenever the mood hits us yet still meet our educational goals. Of course, learning happens everywhere so you bet I add these trips to our end of year portfolios. That’s one of the great benefits of homeschooling!