what you need to know about field day

On paper, it sounds like just the kind of thing we’d love schools to do – let the kids play outside for a day, all together in an inclusive group, moving their bodies and having fun together and enjoying a break from classroom cramming. For kids with special needs, though, Field Day holds more hidden challenges than the most intricate obstacle course. If your child’s school has a Field Day – and if you’re not sure or don’t think so, by all means,

Even if your child is able to physically get to and around the field of play, gross motor and fine motor delays may cause some of the events to seem heartlessly inappropriate. Particularly if your child will be competing against regular education classmates, the well-intentioned folks planning Field Day may, in fact, be setting up an opportunity for kids with differences to be embarrassed, babied, and mocked over and over again.

This is another good reason to get the physical therapist and adaptive gym teacher involved in the planning and execution of Field Day so that the games don’t put kids’ worst foot forward and accommodations don’t make them look like they can’t do anything.

Whether Field Day involves a lunch (at my kids’ school, it was usually a barbecue done by the dads) or just snacks at various stations, you’ll want to be sure that all involved remember that your child’s food allergies don’t stay home on special occasions.

You may have informed the parents in your child’s class about foods that are not safe for your student, but whole-school activities are often “catered” by a different gaggle of parents, and even well-intentioned schools can drop the ball at once-a-year events if no one is reminding them. Provide that reminder. Check as well that the school nurse or whoever is in charge of your child’s epinephrine injector is on the scene and ready to step in, so no one has to run off the field and to the office in case of emergency.