Five Fun and Budget-Friendly Ways to Keep Your Teen Learning This Summer
Ahh, summer…a time for your family to kick back, relax and enjoy a welcome break from the daily grind of the school year. While relaxation is key to the summer months (and no one deserves it more than kids with learning disabilities and their parents), making the most of these hot days requires more than kicking back by the pool. Research has shown that young people experience “learning loss” when they’re not involved in educational activities during the summer—in other words, they return to school in the fall achieving at lower levels than when they left for the summer…and as we all know, kids with LD can’t afford to lose any hard-earned ground.
But it’s not always easy to find productive things for your kids to do over the summer, and this is especially true for teens. Community programming can be scarce for high schoolers, and it’s not uncommon for teens to reject available options as too babyish or boring. So we’ve come up with a list of ways that you can help weave learning into your teen’s summer. Many are low-cost or free and available in all areas of the country, so you’re sure to find something that will fit your family’s needs. (If you’re the parent of a younger child, be sure to check out “Summer Exploring & Learning Tips for Elementary School Students” for age-appropriate ways to help your child make the most of the summer.
Check out library summer reading programs.
“Wait,” you may be thinking. “My teen struggles with reading, so it’s the last thing she would want to do over the summer.” It’s definitely not uncommon for people whose LD causes trouble with reading to have negative feelings about the process. But the summer can be the perfect time to turn that around. Library summer reading programs offer teens a chance to pick interesting reading materials and enjoy books outside of the pressure of the classroom. Librarians love helping readers of all ages find texts that work for them, and most programs offer external motivation in the form of prizes for meeting reading goals. And increasingly, library summer programming doesn’t end at books—in many communities, libraries are offering classes in music, art, science and more to engage all learners. Check with your local library to learn more about their offerings.
Explore career options through a job, internship or volunteer opportunity.
A summer job lifeguarding, flipping burgers or cutting lawns is a rite of passage for many American teens that provides an opportunity to earn money while learning life skills important for any workplace. But paid jobs aren’t the only way for teens to explore the working world this summer. Hospitals, libraries, animal shelters and more often have special programs to encourage teen volunteering. Teens can volunteer in an area of possible career interest (for example, a student who is interested in education could volunteer at a daycare center or children’s summer program)—they’ll get a taste of what working in the field might be like. Both paid and unpaid internships may also be available to help teens learn more about the world of work.
Workplace experience can be especially important for teens with LD because most jobs will require that they find ways to work around their LD and figure out what accommodations they need to be successful. While many teens have experience doing this at school, it’s important to remember that the formal accommodations of an IEP or 504 plan don’t carry over into the workplace (or to college or other post-secondary education programs). Being successful in the workplace will require a new level of self-advocacy and teens will get the chance to practice this in a work or volunteer setting. For workplace tips for people with LD, check out our “Getting a Job 101” ebook.