Whether you’re a student, teacher, or parent, it’s hard to believe that another school year has gone by. In a few weeks, the schedules and routines you’ve built during the past 10 months will melt away and summertime fun will assume its proper place on your calendar.
What are the implications for students with learning disabilities (LD)? No, I am not going to suggest that students with LD spend the entire summer reviewing old notes, getting a head start reading some of next year’s assigned book list, practicing spelling words and solving math problems (although it couldn’t hurt). I am, however, going to invoke the old saying, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”
It’s not hard to see how vulnerable some students are for losing some of the important skills they’ve acquired during the school year. The challenge is how best to insure that the benefits of 10 months of school learning don’t slip away or become diluted by lazy days at the beach or lounging at the pool. Here are a few suggestions:
Space out activities that are intended to reinforce learning (i.e., doing something once a day for many days rather than all day for just a few days); this helps with retention and makes learning “stick.”
Encourage opportunities for learning and review in the comfort of a child’s home; this not only make summer learning fun but might result in the transfer of some of these positive feelings to the school year.
Recruit friends to join in these activities; having company makes for a good time and also taps the proven benefits of peer-assisted learning (students learning from one another).
Organized summer programming (and not just for keeping up with academic skills) can be very beneficial during the summer months:
Whether part of a scouting or recreation program, summer group activities are often perfect for providing the individualized attention and support students with LD need to build competence and confidence.
Summer programs offer an opportunity to make new friendships, free of the emotional baggage often carried by students with LD during the school year.
Do you want to be sure that you take advantage of opportunities for summertime learning for children with LD? Put yourself in their shoes (or sandals) -- ask them what “floats their boat,” what interests them the most, and look for opportunities to help them explore and play in that “sandbox.” For some students with LD, their preferred activities have to do with outdoor learning, sports, and nature. For others, they wish they had more time during the school year for doing science or projects that involve building things or taking things apart. Consider planning activities that tap STEM learning (science, technology, engineering, and math), some of which are available to explore online and others available for hands on participation in your local community. Look at websites such as: