Summer School Activities at Home Reinforce Essential Skills

DIY Summer School Activities are Educational and Fun

Hands-on Learning for Disabilities at Home Summer School
Summer School at Home. Getty Images

Teachers agree that preventing skill losses in the first place is the best way to go, hands down. There are several options to help reduce the possibility of regression using summer school activities. Some schools and community organizations offer summer school learning programs. Contact your school district's central office and local community agencies that typically have summer programs to see if summer school activities and programs are available in your community.

Private companies that specialize in tutoring may also offer individual or small group tutoring to keep skills fresh in students' minds and even to give a competitive edge in some cases. In choosing a program there are several things you should consider.

What Help is Available to Help Kids Remember Academic Skills Over Summer?

Some students who are formally diagnosed with learning disabilities and who participate in special education programs may qualify for summer services, including specially designed instruction, based on students' Individual Education Programs(IEP) The decision as to whether a learning disabled student qualifies for Extended School Year (ESY) is made in a formal meeting at the student's school. The type of services, frequency, and amount of time that SLD students receive will vary, depending on their needs and their IEPs.

ESY services usually involve fewer hours of instruction than are typically given in a regular school day because they are focused specifically on IEP goals and objectives and other important parts of the child's IEP.

ESY services are provided in small groups or one-on-one situations where students receive more individualized attention than they would generally receive in a classroom setting where there are more students present.

Programs and Strategies to Teach Your Child at Home During Summer School

If there are no ESY services available to you, or if you simply want to provide good learning experiences at home, there are other ways you can provide summer school instruction for your child.

Commercially produced programs are available in workbook, video, and computer game formats and can work for summer school at home. Many are provided by subject and estimated grade level for your convenience. You can find these programs at public libraries, local book stores, and teacher supply stores. Reviewing your child's latest report cards or progress reports can provide you with information you need to select a program focused on the skills in which your child needs the most help in a home summer school program. Your child's teacher and school librarian can also provide helpful guidance on materials and programs for summer school at home.

At home, there are great ways to help your child exercise her skills during summer school. Be creative and look for opportunities in your every day routine. Even the seemingly humdrum activities of every day life, can be transformed into learning experiences. There are many ways you can do this using these simple strategies given here and tools you probably have around the house.

You can adapt the challenge level for any of these home summer school activities based on the student's skill levels. Where possible, pull in your student's special interests and talents by creating activities around a theme. Treasure hunting, mystery solving, and role-playing are always winning techniques. Frequently, you can get more mileage from activities by targeting several different types of skills in each activity. Most importantly, make it fun! This is summer break after all, and it offers a wonderful opportunity for kids to develop a playful appreciation of learning in summer school at home.

Get Started with a spy game that reinforces reading, writing, and math skills.

More on Regression

Do-it-Yourself Summer School Activities Prevent Regression

Summer school activities are a great way to prevent regression. Some regression is normal, but summer school activities at home can keep skill loss at a minimum. For students with learning disabilities, recovering lost skills can be difficult, so it makes sense to have some summer school activities to prevent that loss in the first place.

Summer School at the Grocery Store

There are so many summer school possibilities with this activity, and you can make it as simple or complex as you want. It can be a simple activity using only an hour, or it can span the summer and spread to the homes of your child's buddies who have willing parents.

The Object of this Learning Game

The object of this role-play game is for your child to exercise skills and apply them in a playful, real-life situation.

Children will perform organizational and planning activities, perform math operations, write lists with important details, estimate costs and time, and gain important real-life skills. This is a role-playing spy game wherein your child becomes the "agent."

Planning and Playing the Game

Your agent's mission is to gather important intelligence data on the objects in your pantry, refrigerator, and throughout your household. The data is critical to the success of your next requisition mission at 5:00 PM or eighteen hundred hours. Some fun possibilities to make this activity more of an adventure include using walkie talkies, camouflage gear, paper, pencil, calculator, a watch or stopwatch, a backpack for the gear, a flashlight if at night or for closet browsing, snacks, role play, interviews with family members, planted clues throughout the house (also with misleading clues), and any other creative ideas you can involve.

Essential reconnaissance activities for this mission include:

  • Estimating how much of specific things your family has used since the last requisition trip to the store.
  • What items and how many are there in your house? How many units, ounces or other measures did your family use?
  • How many items or units will the family likely use in the future?
  • Are there special circumstances coming up that will affect your needs such as a sleepover, visiting relatives, or someone going away to camp?
  • How much is this mission likely to cost using intelligence data from grocery store advertisements?
  • How much did your family spend on the last supply mission?
  • Recording the findings and estimates on charts. Revisiting those charts when it is time to shop again to see if your predictions were accurate. Evaluate the results. Were the estimates accurate? If they weren't, have your agent determine the reason. Help your child determine how to prevent that in the future?
  • Can your agent train his friends and their moms or his own sisters and brothers on this process?
  • Time-telling skills are a must. Have your agent estimate how long her mission will take. When will it begin? When will it end? What time will important events happen during the mission? Can she calculate the hours, minutes and seconds? Dare we include military time?
  • Writing skills such as listing items for the mission (typed, handwritten, or tape recorded) checking the spelling, alphabetizing the items, grouping the items by type or where they are likely to be found in the store. Find the definition of unfamiliar items and link them to similar words or items. (Exactly what is a kiwi fruit? Isn't that word also the name of a bird? How are these things alike, and how are they different? Help your agent brainstorm the names of other fruits and birds.)
  • Have your agent track a mystery item using clues that you provide. (I'm red. Your sister doesn't like me. I'm cold right now. You'll find me at a cookout. What am I? Castup.) You can also guide your agent toward the objects using prompts. (You're getting colder or warmer. Go left, right, forward, turn around, go backward, down, or up.)

The variations on this game are limited only by your imagination. Learning games such as these are powerful ways for students to learn in an emotionally engaging way. They will remember these experiences for a long time and will gain valuable experience in applying learned concepts to real-world-like situations. Okay agents, now get going!

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