Finding fun activities outside school to help your child develop

Activities outside school can be a great way to help your child develop their confidence, social skills, interests and physical abilities.

Before choosing an activity

Before choosing what activity to do, think about what skills your child needs help developing and what they would enjoy, such as:

  • sports
  • art
  • crafts
  • music
  • drama
  • dancing
  • cooking
  • gaming
  • making friends

Finding activities

There are many ways to find activities for disabled children. You could try:

  • asking about after school activities at your child's school
  • talking to your child's health worker or your school's Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) about local activity groups
  • visiting local leisure centres to see what activities they run
  • searching the Activity Alliance website to find inclusive sports activities in your area
  • visiting local community centres, faith groups and charities as they often host activity groups
  • looking at community noticeboards
  • visiting your local library and asking for information
  • searching SENDirect for accessible clubs and activities in your area

You can also check your local authority's 'Local Offer'. It should list information, advice and services available for children and young adults with SEN.

The Local Offer can include:

  • courses
  • inclusive clubs
  • play schemes
  • special activities outside school hours

Warning

The Local Offer is not legally binding

There's no guarantee that services included will be available to your child.

Speak to other parents

This can be a good way of finding out what's happening locally. You might do this through activities your child is already involved in, like sports groups or charities supporting your child's condition.

You could also:

Find the right activity

Talk to the activity provider about:

  • your child's likes and dislikes
  • what your child does and does not need support with
  • what medication they are on
  • what to do if your child becomes distressed
  • your contact information and what to do in an emergency

It can also help to ask:

  • what support staff can give with things like eating and toilet trips
  • if you or a carer need to stay to support with certain tasks or activities

This sort of information should help the activity provider tell you whether they can support your child and make reasonable adjustments for them.

Ask for a free taster session to see if the activity is right for your child. Make sure your child enjoys the experience before signing up. If they want to stop at any time, it's OK to try other activities until you find the ones they enjoy.

Getting help with costs

You will often have to pay for activities, but you could use your child's Disability Living Allowance to cover costs.

Check if your local authority offers discounts or free activities.

A Max Card offers discounted or free admission at venues across the UK for families of children with additional needs.

Last reviewed by Scope on: 09/09/2019

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