one adult and one child on a small sailboat with the brendan sailing logo

Building Confidence and Social Skills through Experiential Learning


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Summertime is an incredible opportunity to nurture growth and development through experiential learning for all children. While we certainly appreciate the value of traditional academic settings, let's take a moment to recognize the transformative power of immersive, hands-on experiences in enhancing the educational journey. By seeking out unique summer opportunities that offer experiential learning, we can provide our children with priceless experiences that perfectly complement their IEP goals, boost their self-confidence, and foster holistic development.

Experiential learning truly allows our children to engage their senses, explore their surroundings, and immerse themselves in a world of meaning and connection. Picture this: outdoor adventures, arts programs, sports camps, and specialized educational programs that create a vibrant and diverse learning environment far beyond the four walls of a classroom. As our kids participate in activities that align with their passions and strengths, they embark on a journey of self-discovery, gaining a deeper understanding of themselves and their incredible capabilities.

What's truly remarkable about summer programs focused on experiential learning is their emphasis on skill-building, social interaction, and self-expression. They provide our children with the opportunity to develop essential life skills such as problem-solving, decision-making, communication, and collaboration. And here's the exciting part: all of this happens while they also nurture their independence and resilience. These experiences empower our children to step outside their comfort zones, tackle challenges with confidence, and cultivate a positive mindset that fuels their love for learning.

Experiential learning during the summer offers a refreshing break from the academic pressures and routines of the school year. It's a magical time for kids to explore new passions, uncover hidden talents, and build a strong sense of self-identity. By engaging in activities that cater to their unique learning styles and interests, children with IEPs develop a genuine enthusiasm for education, elevate their self-esteem, and lay the foundation for a lifelong love of learning.

Now, when it comes to finding the perfect summer opportunities, let's keep our children's specific needs and IEP goals front and center. Look for inclusive programs that offer individualized support, adapt their curriculum to accommodate diverse learning styles, and have a dedicated team trained in special education or related fields. Our goal is to ensure our children thrive in a safe and supportive environment where they feel valued, included, and capable of achieving greatness.

I've got something absolutely fantastic to share with you while I was on the hunt for the perfect example of experiential learning opportunities: Brendan Sailing! This incredible non-profit organization is all about empowering youth through the joy and thrill of sailing. They offer a wide range of programs designed to nurture confidence, leadership skills, and a deep appreciation for the maritime world. And the best part? These programs are open to children and young adults of all abilities, making sailing an inclusive and accessible adventure for everyone.

Now, here's something to get excited about: in July, Brendan Sailing will be setting sail at the picturesque waterfront campus of St. Mary's College of Maryland in Southern Maryland. Imagine this: two separate, six-day overnight sessions (with day camp options available too) where your child not only learns safe sailing techniques but also dives into paddle sports and powerboating concepts. Plus, it's a residential camp program, giving your little adventurer the chance to stay on-site in St. Mary's College student housing, dig in at the dining hall, and build unwavering confidence through the independence they'll experience.

But what if Maryland isn't in your summer plans? Don't fret, because Brendan Sailing's program has been so incredibly successful that they now train sailing instructors to bring inclusive programming to waters everywhere! If you need a Brendan Sailing program in your area, please do not hesitate to reach out to their team. 

And... if you're a teacher, paraprofessional, or therapist and you are thinking, hmm, I'd love to be involved in the program - Brendan Sailing is looking for you! Contact them here.

Hear from others who took the leap and jumped into Brendan Sailing programs to experience a fully immersive summer program...

  • "The Brendan Sailing program showed my son he could win no matter the challenge! I have been telling him for years and now he believes it! I would encourage all parents to give this gift to their child, the gift of confidence,” said a parent of a Brendan Sailor from Summer 2022.

  • "Our daughter's technical sailing skills, confidence and self-esteem went through the roof! She started the session with no sailing experience and finished by taking her mom and dad out for a sail BY HERSELF,” said a parent of a Brendan sailor from Summer 2021. “She had the skills to sail beautifully and was able to direct her parents what to do using clear and confident instructions...Her excitement going to camp each day was palpable and now she wants to go back next year to train as an assistant counselor!"

More Resources from Brendan Sailing from EXPERTS in the disability community:
Watch Expert Videos from their Navigating Differences Symposium and sign up for the next symposium!

 ⛵️Visit Brendan Sailing to Find Out More!

And no matter what immersive experiences you choose this summer, remember, this is the PERFECT time for stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new. It may feel unfamiliar or even daunting at first, but the rewards are immeasurable!

More Links Mentioned In This Episode:

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