I have three elementary aged children. My son is nearly 7. I also have a nearly 8 year old daughter, and a 9 year old daughter. My son has special needs that we’ve known about since he was 15 months old, though we didn’t start getting official diagnoses until he was 3. It’s not easy being the mother of 3 children so close in age, let alone having one of those children with special needs. I’ve learned to roll with the punches, and since my son is very high-functioning, we enjoy a lot of activities that our area has to offer!
I’m actually really looking forward to having this summer to spend with my children. Yes, there will be challenges and there will be new routines to get accustomed to, which is one of the hardest challenges with an autistic child, but I’ve already been planning our agenda, and I’m letting the anticipation build so that the kids will be excited.
Living in the Tampa Bay area puts us very close to a wonderful variety of fun activities that we can do. The following 5 items are things that WE enjoy doing with our kids.
1. Busch Gardens. Hands down this is our favorite place to go in the summer. What an amazing treasure to have right in our backyard; animals, roller coasters, multiple kid play areas, splash zones, and so much more! Busch Gardens also offers a Special Needs pass! This makes going through the park a B.R.E.E.Z.E. Simply go to guest services upon your arrival and ask for a special needs pass. I did provide documentation of Ronin’s special needs on our first visit, but then they entered him in to the system and now when we go I only have to give his name and they print up our pass and we’re off! If you need more details just ask, and I’ll be happy to provide them.
2. Museums. Yes, we have MOSI in Tampa, but me and my gang prefer another museum a little bit further away. We make the trek at least once per summer to The Florida Museum of Natural History located on the UF campus. They have amazing exhibits, and bring in special exhibits throughout the year. This summer they will feature Titanoboa: Monster Snake, and my middle daughter LOVES snakes, so this exhibit is sure to be a hit. This is my gang in 2008.
3. The Beach. We love going to the beach. Our favorite is Honeymoon Island, with Ft. DeSoto being a very close runner-up. Traveling a bit further south we enjoy heading to my hometown of Venice, FL and spending time with family at the North Jetty or looking for shark’s teeth at Caspersen Beach on Venice Island.
4. Triathlon training. My kids don’t realize that this is what we are doing, but they often help me with my triathlon training during the summer months. We get out together and we bike, we run, and we swim. We do sprints at our community track. We have relay races in our pool. And we bike. A lot. My three little dudes can ride 15-20 miles. Sure, it’s not fast, and we take A LOT of breaks (I carry a big backpack packed with lunch, snacks, more snacks, and lots of drinks) but we get it done. We also go to the local BMX track and the kids can practice their jumps.
5. Geocaching. Our family loves to geocache and our area abounds with wonderful caches!! We nearly always add in a cache on any adventure we go on, but I’m sure we’ll have days where all we do is cache!
These are just a few of the activities that I use to keep my children busy during the summer months. As you can tell, we need to keep moving, and we are quite active.
What do you think of my list? What are some fun things in our area that you do in the summer with your elementary aged children?