Just like that, it’s the summer holidays again! 🌞⛱

Many of us may have been looking forward to this – a time when we don’t have to go through the morning rush, the afternoon school run, the evening homework. Best of all, it’s a time to strengthen bonds with our children through togetherness and play.

At the same time, the holidays brings its own challenges and stresses. For parents, it’s finding suitable activities/events to do and fun places to go to, or keeping them engaged on days that we’re just staying home… How are we supposed to keep the kids active and entertained for 6 weeks? 🤯

Some of our kids may be facing their own challenges too. Many of our children and young people are only just getting used to being in full time school again, and now they’re back at home again until September. And once they get used to the “summer routine”, next thing you know, it’s back-to-school time. It may be extra difficult for our kids who are transitioning to different phases of education, as many of them probably didn’t get a chance to visit their new school prior to the break.

We aim to share some information and tips to help you and your family get through the summer holidays. If you have any of your own #ParentingHacks and ideas, please do tell us by email, social media, or through the comments section below so we can share them with fellow parents and carers.

  1. Top Tips from Educational Psychologists

    If you’re worried about how to manage the summer break, check out this video from One Education’s recent “Working with Your Child During the Summer Holidays” workshop:

    You can also download the workshop’s slides from this page: http://manchesterparentcarerforum.org.uk/video-recording-and-slides-from-working-with-your-child-during-the-summer-holidays/
  2. There’s plenty to do in Manchester this summer!

    Manchester City Council has made a good number of accessible activities available across the city through the SEND Local Offer & Short Breaks programmes and the Holiday Activity Fund.

    Some of these activities have been announced at last week’s Summer Special newsletter and yesterday’s second edition. They include free activities such as the popular Treetop Nets, boating at Heaton Park, sensory rooms at Redbank House, market garden & forest school at Platt Fields Park, and more! If you aren’t subscribed to the Local Offer newsletter yet, we suggest that you sign up ASAP to ensure that you keep up to date with future announcements about SEND from the council.

    You can also use the Local Offer website to browse through what’s happening on any given day/week/month or to search for particular activities. On the What’s On page, you can see a list of activities based on the calendar options that you choose. You can also use the search bar to find particular things such as ‘art‘, ‘cycling‘, or ‘trampoline‘, then you can refine results based on filters such as age, location, and type of support required.

    There’s also the new Loads to Do website that Manchester City Council designed to help all Manchester residents discover cultural and creative opportunities happening across the city. These are ‘mainstream’ activities, though, so we suggest checking with each provider/venue beforehand about their accessibility options.

    Of course, we’ll also be sharing information as we come across good ones so please make sure to follow us on Facebook or check our summer blog regularly to keep updated with useful stuff.

  3. Plan ahead.

    Preparing/researching beforehand for an upcoming trip can help ease anxieties, not only for yourself but also for your child with SEND. This is particularly helpful if you’re going to a place that you’ve never visited before.

    Many websites have an Access page that shows accessibility information and facilities that can help ensure you enjoy your visit. Things such as blue badge parking, accessible toilet​s, induction or hearing loops, and large print guides are usually mentioned on this page. The Accessibility page would also mention if the place has wheelchairs, collapsible chairs, ear defenders, etc that you can borrow during your stay. If your child tends to get overwhelmed by crowds or new places, some museums have “quiet rooms” to allow your child to recover in a calm space.

    Here are some of the top local family friendly destinations with accessibility information on their website:

    If your child or young person needs extra equipment and space to allow them to use toilets safely and comfortably, their needs may be met by Changing Places toilets. There are 10 such toilets in Manchester, which you can find using this interactive Changing Places map (you can also use this map to search for Changing Places toilets in other cities).

    For some autistic children, showing them a visual story or Social Story™ prior to the trip may help them manage better. Places like the National Football Museum and People’s History Museum have already produced visual stories for visitors. Don’t worry if the place you’re going to visit doesn’t have one; the National Autistic Society has a guide for creating your own!

  4. Home Sweet Home

    If you see your family staying home for most of the summer break – whether due to Covid concerns or because of your child’s anxieties with going to new places – we encourage you to apply for our Happy, Active, Healthy SEND Summer Packs. It’s a project that we produced jointly with 4CT Limited to help keep children and young people with SEND thriving at home during the holidays. There are play and sensory items, do-it-yourself kits, a food voucher, and an Explore Manchester newsletter inside each box.

    A sample HAH (Happy, Active, Healthy) SEND Summer Box from MPCF, 4CT Limited and Manchester City Council

    If you liked the Paperbag Sensory Packs from last summer/winter or the Explore Manchester boxes from last spring, then you’re going to love this!

    Apply Now!
  5. Be kind to yourself.

    One of the main messages of the “Working with Your Child During the Summer Holidays” workshop is “time for yourself, space for everybody, self-preservation”.

    Over the course of the summer break, there will come days when you don’t have the capacity to take your child somewhere or to be actively involved in their play. That’s okay!

    Remember to take some days off and/or to treat yourself to some nice food and/or to put your feet up & “do nothing” (watch a movie? read a book? meditate?) when you have an opportunity. Self-care is important; you will be best placed to care for your child if you are in a good place yourself.

  6. Back-to-school

    Before you know it, the summer holidays will have passed and the kids will be going back to school in September.

    If you or your child are worried about the return to school, check out the free back-to-school resources that Manchester’s Clinical Service for Children with Disabilities, Educational Psychology, and Speech & Language Therapy teams have put together to support children and young people who may struggle with the return to education following a long period of absence. The resources include a pack for parents, booklets for younger and older students, and advice for schools.