For students with learning disabilities, making progress in the classroom is typically challenging. Further, keeping that momentum up over the weeks and semesters of the school year can seem like an almost impossible task. Imagine, then, how difficult it must be for a child who struggles with a learning difference to retain during the summer all the information he or she has learned throughout the year.
This article will discuss ways that students with learning differences can keep learning when school is over, without ruining summer (because everyone needs a break).
Make a Summer Plan
Planning is likely the last thing you or your child will want to do when you could be enjoying the beach instead, so making a solid plan long in advance can alleviate that stress when the time comes.
Things to consider:
- What are your child’s goals for the summer? To continue developing literacy by reading more books? Brushing up and maintaining math skills? Think about the things that your child struggles with the most and formulate achievable goals—having a target will help move the needle throughout the summer.
- Create a balance. While it’s certainly important that your child’s hard-won development doesn’t “slip” over the summer, it’s equally important to realize that he or she has been working hard all year. Making sure that studying and learning is appropriately balanced with fun and recreation will ensure that your child doesn’t get too burned out.
- Get involved! If your child isn’t going to participate in a summer school program, consider other ways he or she might be able to get involved in a community that fosters continued learning.
Speak to Your Child’s Guidance Counselor
If your child is part of a program at his or her school that places specialized attention on learning disabilities, speaking to a dedicated counselor and advocate may provide a wellspring of ideas.
Before speaking with a counselor, generate a list of questions that you feel might help steer the conversation. For instance, do you want to know about summer school programs in your area, or are you more interested in learning about how to create a schedule for your child over the summer?
Thinking these things through prior to a phone call will help you better prepare and will help your child’s guidance counselor understand what exactly it is you’re looking for.
Plan a Trip
“Summer learning loss” can occur across subject matter and grade level, and regardless of the presence of a learning disability. However, the effects are sometimes more profound in students with learning difficulties. One fun way of curbing this loss is to plan a trip that’s aligned with your child’s interests.
This might be as simple as a day trip to the shore for someone who is interested in oceanography or biology, or a major journey to Rome for the budding history buff. The scope of the trip is not as important as the focus and intent. Finding a way to connect your child to his or her interests outside of the classroom (both during the school year and summer) is one of the best ways to accelerate learning.
The most important factor to keep in mind when figuring out a summer plan is that it must be tailored to suit your child. If your summer learning initiatives begin to feel forced, your child will ultimately catch on and you’ll run the risk of your plans backfiring. A simple place to start is by asking your child, “What are YOUR goals for the summer?” Parents are often surprised to hear the answer.