How to prepare for camping with a special child- summer escapade galore!!

Now that school is almost over and summer has begun, what better way to relax but to go camping!

Plan and prepare what to bring so nothing is missed and everybody can enjoy and have fun.

But wait, can you bring your special child with the whole family?

Of course, he may have special needs but he has the right to enjoy and spend time with everybody.

This will be a special bonding time for everyone – to relax, unwind, breathe some fresh air and enjoy nature.

Let’s go and delve on how to prepare for camping with a special child in tow.

I promise you, it will be a summer escapade galore!

Where to go

Months or weeks in advance, you need to plan where the family wants to go and reserve or book the place.

I assume you did this already. Did you book a cabin or a tent area? Or are you bringing your camper? Either way, all three are fun places to stay.

Is your site somewhere close, like half an hour ride or maybe up to 2 hours is good. But some families love to go long driving, like a 3-4 hour or more travel, which might be uncomfortable though for the kids, especially your special one.

You can actually make a long trip comfy by breaking it into shorter trips. How do you do that?

Rest in between, like after an hour or two, look for a park with a picnic table or a grocery store with some benches outside where you can rest or maybe eat your snacks or lunch. Even a 30-45 minute rest would give everyone a space to relax and a time to stretch and fill the hungry tummy.

Then, off you go again for another ride. Make sure that you let Dad or whoever is driving know that you need to stop every after 1-2 hours of driving to recharge.

Plan your activities and meal preparation

Planning is key to success, comfort, and fun in camping.

If you are camping with your extended family or friends, like what we do all the time, for sure there maybe a minimum of 4-5 families or around 16-25 people.

For a big group like this, it will be surely fun and the most important thing is to decide how you will prepare your meals. For our group, we usually assign which family prepares this or that meal, so we prepare and cook only once or twice for that weekend get away. On the first day though, that is on check in day, each family brings packed lunch or dinner, so we don’t worry what to eat when we get to the site and we can focus on pitching our tents or preparing for the first night.

That said, you know what food and cooking utensils to bring when you have planned your menu for your assigned day and specific meal. For example, you don’t need to bring eggs when you are assigned to prepare dinner on a Saturday.

Swimming is an all-time favorite activity for kids including your special one. When booking for a camp, always look if the site has a swimming pool or a suitable lake. Be sure to be with your kids at all times during these activities for safety reasons.

Outdoor games like badminton, frisbee or parlor games would be fun as well for the whole family. Be sure to bring those rackets and shuttlecocks, frisbee flying disks and materials for parlor games like sacks, big hankies, empty bottles, etc.

What to bring

It is best to make a list of what to bring so you will not forget anything or at least you will be able to bring the most essential things that you need.

I remember in one of our tent campings, my husband forgot to bring our sleeping bags, it’s good that my brother’s family were in their camper with heating, so they let us use their sleeping bags.

Here is a list of what you will need:

1. Shelter and sleeping needs

  • Tent- make sure that what you have from years before is still usable and clean, otherwise, you have to buy again. Does it fit everybody or do you need an additional tent if everybody will not be accommodated? If you want to purchase new one, you can buy at AMAZON by clicking here.
  • Sleeping mattress or airbed- don’t forget to bring the pump to put some air
  • Sleeping bag – it is usually cold late at night and early morning, so this is really important; suitable for one to 3 -persons depending on the number of family members; lots of choices at AMAZON.
  • Pillows
  • Extra blankets- the regular ones that you can use at daytime when you want to have a nap or just want to lie down
  • Weighted blanket- if you have one, bring it!
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2. Cooking materials

  • Stove
  • Match or a lighter
  • Propane
  • Kettle, frying pan, rice cooker – you have to know what food are you cooking so you know what to bring
  • Laddle
  • Chopping board

3. Eating utensils

  • Disposable plates, spoons and forks, glasses
  • Serving spoons
  • Napkins

4. Clean up materials including stuff for bathing and swimming

  • Towels
  • Tissue paper
  • Boxed tissue
  • Toiletries-including soap, body wash, body scrub or sponge, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, dental floss
  • Bathing suit
  • Sunblock
  • Make-up, lipstick, deodorants
  • Diapers ( click to buy ) for small kids or even for your non-toilet trained special one

5. Food and Water ( think of your assigned meal plan so you don’t miss anything )

  • Bottled water
  • Water for cooking in a large container
  • Rice
  • Cooler with ice and hot dogs, pre-cooked food
  • Fruits
  • Snacks-cookies, chips, nuts
  • Drinks, including milk for young kids and your special one
  • Coffee or chocolate for grown-ups
  • Bread
  • Travel food in a separate bag for long trips- usually cookies, nuts, including water
  • Pre-packed lunch or dinner depending on your check-in time so you can concentrate on putting up your tent upon arrival
  • Other food- meat, fish, dried food such as beans, eggs, vegetables, spices, salt, marshmallow, etc

6. Clothes

  • Sweaters, jackets, toque, scarves, mitts- Be prepared for cold nights and on early mornings
  • Jogging pants- especially because there could be mosquitoes or ticks
  • Jammies, preferably long-sleeve tops
  • Socks
  • Shorts and light-colored or white shirts for daytime use when it’s usually hot
  • Underwears
  • Caps or hats

7. Other Essentials

  • Flashlight
  • Light for the tent and for your dining table
  • Camp chairs
  • Alcohol or disinfectant
  • Sunblock
  • Insect Repellant
  • Coins- some showers need coins to function
  • Hanging ropes for wet towels and clothes
  • Books and board games – reading to your special one can still continue outside or inside your
  • Camera or phone
  • House keys
  • Travel diary if you are fond of recording your experiences
  • CD’s to entertain you while traveling for long trips
  • Slippers
  • Balls, Badminton sets, freebies
  • Small toys for your special child

What do you do during camping?

When you have small kids and a special child with you, fun activities need to be planned so they don’t get bored.

Activities that kids enjoy are swimming, outdoor sports like biking, ball games, badminton, etc.

Hiking could also be fun if your special child can walk by himself. Let him stroll at the start then maybe carry him later in your back if he gets tired. Then plan to go back to your tent at this point, otherwise your back will get sore carrying him for a very long walk.

As you progress with your hike, show your special child the plants, flowers, trees, or animals around you and this could be an educational experience for him as well.

Campfire and barbecuing or grilling hot dogs and marshmallows are things that they also love. This is a special time for families and friends to bond by sharing experiences or jokes around a campfire, or sharing music by singing in a guitar accompaniment, if your family is musically-inclined.

If possible, tell your kids to limit the use of social media ( phones, laptops, DVDs, etc ) and instead encourage them to play active games and interact with family especially siblings and cousins their age.

After the camping, what?

Be sure to ask your older kids to help you out with folding the tent and keeping all the things that you need to bring home.

Make your trip back home fun by playing music and singing while traveling. If you think your special child cannot handle the noise, put on him an earphone.

You can also play games in your car, like the ” I spy ” game where you take turns in saying something that you see around, for example, a red flower, and let the other family members guess where it is.

When you are already close to where you live, you can eat out in a restaurant so you don’t have to prepare another meal at home because by then you will be very tired.

Then, putting away stuff is another hurdle to do. Try to keep all things in their proper places so when you need them again in your next camping trip, you know where to look for them.

Inspect all your stuff and clothing to make sure that you don’t have ticks with you.

Remember, that weekend with your family including your special one is a precious event. He will always cherish those times with you. Keep memories alive through pictures and videos.

Lastly, if possible, allot a day for rest and to put all stuff in proper places before you go back to work , so productivity in your workplace is not affected.

Till next camping!

 

Do you and your family love camping? Do you always bring your child with special needs? Not that hard, right? Please share your experiences with us.

 

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Special education teaching-facing challenges and feeling fulfilled

I met her and attended to her medical needs when she was still a baby. Then she grew up and I lost track of her.

Until recently, with the power of the internet, I virtually met her again. I think I befriended her sometime on facebook, so I get to read her stories in messenger.

One day, she wrote that she is a Special Education teacher. I engaged with her right then and there and asked her if she would be up for an interview about her career.

And she agreed!

So here goes Ms Rica’s story on Special Education teaching and how she faces challenges, thus becoming better at her job each day, and feeling fulfilled with her career.

 

A special education teacher

 

How long have you been teaching?

“I have been in the field for six years and counting.”

Have you been teaching special kids all these years?

“Yes, I am currently a certified Special Education (SPED ) teacher here in the US since August 2016 and I handle students with moderate to severe Emotional Behavior Disorder (EBD), Specific Learning Disability and Developmental Delay. 

In the Philippines, I taught for three years students diagnosed with mild to severe Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, Developmental Delay, Mental Retardation, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ( ADHD ), and Attention Deficit Disorder ( ADD ). “

Who motivated you to become a Special Education teacher?

“My mother is an elementary school teacher and even as a kid, I already envisioned myself to follow her footsteps. I would play as a “teacher ” with kid neighbors and relatives as my “pupils”. I loved teaching these small kids and it was always a happy time for us.

But it was my Aunt Mariza, my dad’s sister, who encouraged me to become a Special Education mentor. She said it is a fulfilling career.

My aunt’s influence, coupled with my childhood dream, the example that I saw in my mom, and my reflections on my future all contributed to what I am today. I believe my love for children, be they normal or special also inspired me to follow this path.”

What is your typical day like?

“Everyday ( from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM ) I teach all 24 of my children with special needs with ages ranging from 5-13. With the help of six teacher assistants, I handle the kids from 30 minutes to one and a half hour long depending on their disability, some in groups of 2-4, but I also do “one on one” if with severe impairment.

From 3:00 to 4:00 PM, I do paperwork and meetings. These include checking of worksheets, Individualized Education Program ( IEP ) meetings and helping my teacher assistants do their service logs.

After school, I try to connect online with my family and friends back home. On weekends, I explore beautiful places with local friends.”

Any struggles or big challenges on being a SPED teacher?

“Yes of course, and there’s a lot. Every day has its own story, such as adjusting to your students’ mood swings, pacifying different kind of outbursts and temper tantrums, etc. “

How do you handle a very difficult child?

” There are three major factors that I consider in dealing with a difficult child.

First, is building a connection with the child. I really have to let them feel that I care and want to help them .

Second is identifying the best calming technique that is suitable for that difficult child. Would it be a massage therapy, art therapy, play therapy, the use of behavior charts, chunking method of providing the activities, etc.

Third is to always make sure that you are firm and consistent in implementing the rules or agreement you have with the child because this difficult child may just be testing your patience limit.

Once I have established the good connection and authority as a teacher towards him or her, then I can eventually de-escalate the behavior problem and divert the situation into something positive. “

Do you involve the parents in teaching their kids?

” Yes, this is really important and should not be overlooked.

I am dedicated to helping my students improve their academic and behavioral performances, but when the parents are not doing their part in implementing the suggested IEP goals that I have created for their child, for most instances, there is no progress.

On the contrary, when the parents are doing their part, it is very evident that there is improvement in their child’s overall performance.

Having a strong parent and teacher partnership is essential in the special children’s progress. “

How do you feel at the end of a school-day?

” Like a typical teacher, I feel exhausted after school. However, I really feel happy when I am able to control my students’ daily outbursts and help them make a difference in their lives despite their disabilities.”

What makes you happy or fulfilled on a certain day?

” Seeing my students enjoy the tasks given to them and witnessing their progress are the things that truly make my day happy. No amount of money can satisfy that kind of feeling. “

Any advice/s on those who plan to pursue a career as a Special Education teacher?

” Being a SPED teacher is a challenging but a fulfilling job. You need to have more patience, 100% dedication and a big heart for children with special needs.

You must be ready to experience the worst case scenarios. I have been bitten, slapped, spat on, punched and kicked.

I learned my lesson by being alert all the time.

As long as you are truly passionate with your career, it will feel as if you are just doing your “purpose” and not being paid to do a “job”.

How do you de-stress after a difficult day?

” I always communicate with my family especially with my mother and my sister.

I also try to socialize with my friends after work and on weekends.

I make sure I leave work on time and schedule things that I love doing, like hiking, baking, and trying new food and restaurants. “

There’s a point in our career that we realize we made a difference in someone’s life, in your case a special child’s life. Please share your story with our readers.

” When I receive flattering comments from the parents, that’s when I know, I am doing my purpose.

I will never forget that time when one of the parents of my students in the Philippines told me that she wanted to adopt me as her daughter because she really likes my attitude and dedication in my chosen career.

In addition to this, a lot of the parents of my former students, and even my tutees in the Philippines were encouraging me to build my own school in the future.

With God’s grace, timing and requirements, I can probably do that, but of course, I need to consider a lot of things and pursue further studies.

Hopefully I will build my own school in the future because it is my dream.

I would really feel exultant and be the happiest person in the whole universe once I achieve that goal. “

Special education teaching is a passion for Ms Rica.

 

Lucky for Ms Rica because she has studied something that she loves doing leading to enjoyment in her career, thus she is now so passionate in teaching her students with special needs.

This only goes to show that if we love what we do, struggles become challenges and we can overcome these with acceptance in our hearts that this is just part of the package.

We also welcome these challenges because through them, we learn and become better in our craft.

We hope we can be triumphant with you Ms Rica when that time comes that you will become directress of your very own school for special children.

We wish you all the luck in your future endeavors.

 

This post contains affiliate links. We might earn a commission when you purchase or sign up to something. Your fees are not at all affected.

 

How does your special child thrive in school? Does he enjoy going to school everyday? Does he talk about how his teacher is so kind and helpful? We love to hear your comments. Please post them below.

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Are you a Special Education teacher? Do you feel that you have touched a special child’s heart and have contributed to his or her development or improvement of his disability? Please share your story with us by commenting below.

 

Check out these awesome stuff for your child with special needs. Click on the image to see the price.

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The benefits of reading to your special child… making learning a fun experience

Kids will be kids. They enjoy time with their parents and caregivers. They will always feel safe when they are around with their beloved mom and dad, grandparent, aunt or uncle, or their nanny.

What a better way to spend time together with your special child than reading to them.

Exploring books together with  your special kid is one of the best form of parental-child bonding, maybe second to playing with them.

 

What are the benefits of reading to your special child?

Even if your special child has  delayed mental development, he will still enjoy sitting down with you or lying down in the bed with you.

He will always tend to snuggle or hug you while listening to your story-telling.

So aside from just being happy together, there are lots of positive output that reading to your child will bring:

  • A strong bond is developed between you and your special child.
  • Your child will have  a sense of security when he is  there in the bed or chair  with you.
  • You are both able to explore the world, your town, province or country.
  • He gradually forms a deep trust in you.
  • He learns to appreciate that you are trying to help him improve or overcome his incapacities.
  • Your special child will slowly increase his vocabulary.
  • He gradually improves his language skills.
  • His mental capability will be boosted.
  • You are opening your child’s awareness to his surroundings, thus he learns coping skills.
  • You are helping your child’s teacher in a way because  your kid will be more receptive with lessons in school.
  • Reading will develop your child’s imagination and creativity.
  • He will learn to relax and quiet his mind during reading sessions with you.

Make reading together a habit

We learn easily when we do things again and again. Your child with special needs will truly benefit from you when you make reading to him a habit.

Rather than make your child watch nursery rhymes on television or you tube  day after day, develop the habit of reading to him instead at bedtime or just anytime that you feel he is receptive to listen to your storytellling.

Making reading to him a daily thing will surely increase his trust in you and he will always look forward to that special time together.

Gradually, you are increasing his vocabulary and his understanding of his environment.

This special time will also make you feel that you are giving him a special part of you.

“We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which provides a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no added cost to you. When you buy, you are able to help in the Special Education of kids with special needs in Romblon, Philippines.”

Enjoy reading with your child

Read aloud to your child.

Act out and speak out like the characters in the book that you are reading. If you are reading a dialogue for an old lady, let your voice be slow and quivering. If you are reading a man’s dialogue, speak in a deep tone.

You can even mimick some animals’ sounds. Surely your child will giggle and enjoy hearing your story.

He will always look forward to reading with you everyday.

You yourself will feel very happy and at peace after these sessions.  Your child’s laughter will wash away all the worries or stresses that you maybe experiencing at that moment.

Incorporate the assignments from school in your reading sessions

During homework time, start by reading to your child a good story book. This will develop his enthusiasm in doing his assignment.

Answering questions or completing his tasks that his teacher sent home will be a breeze if his brain is programmed to respond positively.

Encourage him to answer his homework by himself.  Let him ask you questions as well or let him know that you can help him if he cannot answer the questions.

Guide him if you can, instead of giving him all the answers. This way, you are encouraging him to think and decide for himself what is the best answer.

His teacher will be very appreciative learning that you are there to help her encourage your child to learn each day.

Read various topics

To increase your special child’s vocabulary and develop his language skills, try to read a variety of topics from animals, cartoon characters, plants, school, home, family, food, etc.

After reading, talk about the story that you just read.

Ask him questions like, ” What part of the story did you like most? “, “Who is your favorite character? “, or ” What did you learn from the story?”

Encourage him to ask questions to you as well. This will also gauge if he understood the topic or not.

An inquisitive mind is open to more learning.

Here are some awesome books for your special one.

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Keep reading time short and sweet

A special child will have limited attention span, so plan to read short stories. Their intellectual capacities are also restricted, so they lose interest easily.

You might need to speak very slowly too, so he can understand every word and appreciate the story.

Don’t be upset when your child doesn’t decipher everything that you read to him. Keep in mind that he has delayed mental capabilities, so his brain is slow to digest.

Just appreciate that he enjoys time with you and he is learning slowly. 

Plan on going to the library regularly

A trip to the library on a weekend or right after school on a certain day is something that you can develop with your special child.

This will teach him the value of reading regularly. Likewise, he will be exposed to different books and topics.

Let him choose what he wants you to read to him. This way, you will encourage him to explore.

Start with small books or short stories.

Picture books are awesome for small kids to begin with.

Introduce reading to your special child from birth

Reading to your newborn or a few months old special baby can certainly give benefits both to you and him.

You will develop a special bond right away aside from his feeding schedules.

His brain will be exposed very early to this stimulating activity and as he grows and develops, reading will aid  in forming his language skills early on.

Your voice will soothe him to let him sleep good at night.

Developing that good habit of reading everyday will surely help him overcome his mental delay sooner because his brain will be rewired early.

As your child grows older, he would be choosing  his favorite topic, author, or book.

All these because you have started to expose him early and he has developed that habit of reading ( or listening if he has not learned reading by himself ).

I hope I have inspired you, dear mom and dad to start reading to your special child if you have not started.

Wishing you and your child happy reading!

Check out my favourite AMAZON picks  for babies here. 

 

When did you start reading to your special child?  Are you reading to him everyday?

What is his favorite book about? Please share your story with us.

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