Summer Time: Pools, Sun, Fun, Relaxing and No School!
All things that mark the beginning of a great season called summer.
But the thing about summer is that without some focus on learning, most children will encounter something called The Summer Slide or summer learning loss. The term learning loss refers to any specific or general loss of knowledge and skills or to reversals in academic progress, most commonly due to extended gaps. Summer break is listed as the most commonly cited form of a break. Since most public schools take a summer break, this learning loss is “fairly universal and well-documented in the United States” (Oxfordlearning.com).
In fact, it can take up to 2 months from the first day of school to get the brain back on track, with approximately 2 or more months of both reading and math skills lost over summer break (Oxfordlearning.com)
Children with special needs can be affected even more than the above statistics that reflect those of typically developing children. Summer learning is critical as well as meeting the other challenges of summer that can begin when the daily schedule is changed, because we all know how important schedules can be.
But, no matter what the special need is, summer fun should be enjoyed as much as possible. After all, they are children!
So, how do you balance the learning with the fun? I thought I would share some of the things that have worked for us over the past summers.
For me, taking a look at the IEP goals to see which ones I really wanted to work on with Elizabeth was my first step. Was it a speech goal or was it working on a budget? Whatever the case, once picked, I could then prioritize my goals for summer as well as make plans for therapies and/or follow up work at home based on those goals.
After that was done, I made sure to contact the therapists to go over these goals and make plans for the summer work. This is also a good time to firm up times of appointments as well.
Talking to Elizabeth about her feelings regarding summer was also important. I liked getting her idea of what she wanted to do or NOT do. When she was non-verbal, talking was not an option, so we used picture charts. I have always believed in having Elizabeth be part of her plans because it shows we value her opinion and feelings. The schedule then reflects both the needs I saw and the things she wants to do. Goal number one is to enjoy her!
I have always loved making a schedule on a calendar for Elizabeth. This way she can see the entire week and month of activities/work/therapies. We use the calendar as a source of conversation and it helps her plan for what is coming next. We update it weekly, if needed, and also make a loose daily schedule because they help her plan and get ready for the day.
(Continued on page 2)