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An elementary school boy sits in front of a computer in his special education school while holding up a page of autographs.



Extended School Year: Avoiding the Summer Slide


Retaining information over summer, once school lets out, is a challenge for several kids. Major concepts, such as reading comprehension and problem solving, tend to stick, while factual knowledge is washed away by water slides, popsicles and sun. How can parents help their children retain information, so they do not come back to school behind? Here are five ways to promote summer retention:

  1. Daily Skills -- Incorporating math facts into daily tasks is a great and fun way to keep the skills alive! Baking, cooking, making play dough pizza slices or counting earnings from a lemonade stand are some kid-friendly ways to sneak in math facts!
  2. Scavenger Hunt -- Whether you’re camping, on a road trip or walking around the block, there are several opportunities to practice vocabulary. You can make a seek-and-find game using pictures or words prompting your child to locate items and label them (bird, stop sign, grocery store, tower). Older students might enjoy obscure items, such as a specific business or car model. Opportunities to practice using words outside of the norm will help keep potentially forgotten vocabulary alive!
  3. Museums -- History is largely based on factual knowledge. But when you pair it with a visual (statue, artifact, video), it might help your child build a deeper understanding. Most major cities have science or natural history museums, but you might want to check out local war or historical museums in your hometown as well!
  4. Pen Pals -- Contact a buddy from another town and commit to writing or sending post cards from summer travels. This will reinforce writing conventions and writing stamina as well as voice, craft and creativity. If you do not have a friend out of town, some nursing homes welcome letters and cards, too!
  5. Extended School Year (ESY) -- If your child qualifies for ESY, check with your local school to see what programming for summer looks like! Some ESY programs are full of outdoor learning, field trips, school visitors and targeted skill building designed specifically for your child’s Individualized Education Plan goals. Extended School Year eligibility might look different state-to-state, but typically includes:
  • Regression due to interruption in programming
  • Recoupment capacity of student following an interruption in programming
  • Regression and recoupment combined
  • Mastery of skills upon interruption of programming
  • Self-sufficiency and independence skills
  • Successive interruptions that might cause student withdrawal from learning
  • Severity of disability

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