Beneficial Activities for Kids with Special Needs

Struggling to meet the academic challenges placed on them can cause kids to feel frustrated and insecure. Extracurricular activities can provide them with an outlet that allows them to feel successful about achieving something in a different way than they are able to in the classroom. Best of all, they can have fun while developing and strengthening skills that will help them in life. These activities include things they can do at home as well as at school. Although some types of extracurricular activities are best for some learning disabilities, there are some that are good choices across the board.


Music is a magical tool that helps those who play it have better executive function skills. It increases the ability of the child to establish and maintain routines. While some children may have difficulty reading and translating music, the option to learn to play by ear opens the door to more possibilities for more kids. Music is a regular part of the special needs education at John Cardinal O’Connor School.


To many kids, technology means being able to build something with their hands that they were unable to grasp in the classroom. Although considered exceptionally beneficial to kids with ADHD, kids with all types of learning disabilities may be able to grasp abstract concepts when they are able to use a hands-on approach.

Animal Care

Petting animals is good for anyone, reducing stress and anxiety. The same is true for children with learning disabilities. Not only will a day at the petting zoo help put them at ease, it will also give them an opportunity to interact with others in a less stressful environment.

Visual Arts

When a learning disability keeps you from understanding sounds or words, expressing yourself through art can be an enlightening experience. Some programs are now offering paired matches between children with similar disabilities. John Cardinal O’Connor offers art and technology once every week to provide a needed outlet for children. The contrast between expressing themselves through writing and visual artwork will be an empowering experience that will also boost self-esteem.

Sports or Physical Education

Participating in sports or other activities taught in physical education can help children learn how to plan activities and how to follow those plans. The hands-on skills kids learn will also have a positive impact on their academics. Coaching and repetition of moves in practice help kids develop a better growth mindset.


The theater is the ideal place for kids with learning disabilities to find the tools they need to improve in a variety of skills. They can improve reading accuracy, expand their vocabulary, and develop reading skills from repeatedly reading new scripts. Through acting out roles, they can experience a wide diversity of emotions and find an outlet for expressing themselves artistically. They may discover strengths they otherwise never would realize they had.

The benefits of extracurricular activities are many, leading to the implementation of several programs in schools for children with learning disabilities in Westchester. Not only should parents ensure that their child’s school is teaching them in the ways that will work best for them, but also that they provide extracurricular activities that offer an appropriate outlet and potential involvement in activities that matter to them, and which will make a real difference with their academics and their attitude.


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