Kristina Scott, LDA State Presidents’ Representative
Summer is quickly sneaking up on us! With the school year dwindling down there is often end of the year parties, moving on ceremonies, field trips, and nervous excitement as our children begin to anticipate the summer months that lay ahead. For students that need a highly structured environment these changes are often met with anxiety rather than excitement. To help students navigate this anxious time of the year it is helpful to provide some structure to aide this transition from school routine to summer activities.
One way to do this, and to work on developing executive functioning skills in the process, is through involving children in active plan making. By involving our children in planning we are working on the ability to organize, time management, planning and prioritizing activities based on their importance, and their (and our own) ability to follow-though on plans that are created. These plans can consist of staying socially connected to peers during the summer months, enhanced learning through museum visits and attending community events, or even attending camps or library sponsored activities.
We know from the literature that summer regression, returning to school after summer vacation with a decrease in skill acquisition, significantly impacts our children with learning disabilities (Kim & White, 2011; Mraz & Rasinski, 2007). To be pro-active it is best to have continued learning opportunities occurring throughout the summer months. Routines, like the literacy and math routines occurring during the school year, should continue to be practiced (Blanton, 2015). This may be done through extended school year opportunities, tutors, or even in the home. Coupling these academic routines with community events (museum visits, cultural fairs, and multi-media performances) can help keep students motivated to learn during the hot summer months.
During the school year, socialization with peers happens daily. To ensure the social emotional learning opportunities (like social awareness and relationship building) continue during the summer months, peer get-togethers need to happen on a consistent basis. For our young children this may mean scheduling play dates or enrolling them in camp opportunities. For our older children this may mean having them disconnect from their technology and meeting up with friends in person at the local shopping center or eatery.
Vacation is often looked at as a time to relax and rejuvenate. The two-plus months of summer vacation should allow for this, but it should also allow for structured reinforcement of learning, continued social opportunities, and engagement with the family and larger community to unite all that was learned in this past school year!
Blanton, M.V. (2015). Keys to reducing summer regression: The reader, routine, and relationship.
Journal of Organizational and Educational Leadership, 1, 1-22.
Kim, J. S., & White, T. (2011). Solving the problem of summer reading loss. Phi Delta Kappan, 92(7), 64-
Mraz, M., & Rasinski, T. (2007). Summer reading loss. The Reading Teacher, 60(8), 784-789. ■
Kristina Scott, Ed.D., State Presidents’ Representative to the LDA Board of Directors is also President of the New Hampshire LDA affiliate and an Assistant Professor of Special Education at Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts.