Making School Work For Your Child

I know parents need a break.  So do your children.  But ten weeks is a long time- 20% of the entire year.  As I said in my last blog, most children with special needs will regress over the summer, in some cases by quite a lot.  When I speak with parents, they ask how they can help their child make good use of vacation time.

If your child has summer services derived from the IEP that will actually help to build skills, that’s great.  If not, I hope you can find (and afford) a tutor to work on the most important skills, at least twice per week.  Do make sure the tutor is fully certified and knows exactly what your child needs to work on.

Even in the best case, summer services from schools will cover only 6 weeks of summer, sometimes only 2-3 times per week, for 1-4 hours each time—as few as 2 hours per week.  That still leaves 4-5 weeks for parents to fill in.  The best plan is to map out goals and practice for the entire summer.  On weeks with school services, you can do less, but aim for practice of some kind on 5 days per week.

  • Summer reading is for every child—whether they can read or not. Every day, 30 minutes at least.  Set up a chart for your child.
  • Young children can learn to recognize and write letters, and be read to.
  • Early readers should read aloud and work on phonics or sound matching/blending skills.
  • Older children and teens should aim for daily reading blocks that will allow them to complete summer assignments and some books “for fun”.
  • If your child of any age struggles with reading, offer to sit with him and share the task, get books on tape, use Cliff’s notes or a movie version to present major themes, or find a version with simpler language.
  • Other areas to work on depend on your child’s IEP. Prioritize and pick the 2-3 most important goals.  Look at your white board to see what you’ve been practicing during the year.  Don’t have a white board?  Now is a good time to get one!
  • In elementary school, figure 10 minutes for each goal area—printing, decoding, practicing math facts, fluency, plus reading of course. Figure an hour per day, any day without summer services
  • In middle/high school, figure 15 minutes per goal, plus reading time.
  • Executive functioning skills are best worked on with a tutor who specializes in these skills. Summer is a great time to set up a program to start practicing the strategies your child will need during the school year—flexible thinking, problem solving, working independently, setting priorities, developing a system to organize papers, etc.  These skills take months or years to develop.  Your child may need support during the school year as well.
  • Summer is also a good time to consider a neuropsychological evaluation to document and better understand your child’s learning style, academic levels, social/emotional concerns or executive functioning difficulties. This helps you start the school year with current, accurate information to help your child.

This may seem like a lot, but it really isn’t much time on a daily basis.  The school year is short, the school day is short, and most children need more instructional time than they get.  By taking advantage of the summer months, parents give their children a gift that’s better than any vacation—a chance to start the next grade with more solid skills and increased self-confidence.  Isn’t that what we all want for our kids?

Good luck, and enjoy all of your summer times together!  

Date posted: July 3, 2016 | Author: | No Comments »

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