For students with learning challenges, summer vacation may come with a sigh of relief. For some, it can signal a welcome break from the familiar cycle of effort not matching results. It can mean a temporary reprieve from watching peers respond with confidence and accuracy to assignments or instructions that inspire confusion and trepidation. It can also mean removal from the spotlight they feel is constantly illuminating difficulties they’d prefer went unnoticed.
Breaks are important, especially for frustrated learners who may feel overwhelmed or exhausted on a regular basis. Whether a lengthy vacation, an activity filled camp or park, sports, an exciting movie or show, or simply hours spent relaxing with family and friends, time set aside at the end of each day or week that’s unrelated to academic pressures or challenges is important. The summer months are a great time to further or expand your child’s interest in different subjects. They can be an opportunity to provide examples of real life applications for skills learned. For some, this time signifies cherished time to develop new friendships or just be together as a family.
Reflect on the Previous Year
Vacation is also a good time to reflect on the previous school year. Consider the obstacles and successes your child faced and the effectiveness of interventions and changes tried. For some parents, summer comes with additional concerns about grade level retention. But retention only leads to academic improvement if some change in instruction occurs. Addressing the same content with the same strategies will yield the same results.
Assessments can help identify the cause of your child’s learning difficulties. In addition, they can open the door to appropriate interventions and classroom accommodations. Formal and informal assessments, including an evaluation by clinician or survey, can provide helpful information for determining next steps. There are also a number of effective interventions available for students with or without a diagnosis that target specific skills and/or challenges and are supported by research and results. The more information you have about your child’s strengths, challenges, skill gaps, and learning style, the more empowered you’ll be to choose the appropriate alternative to best meet his or her needs.
Utilize This Time
Summer provides a unique opportunity to address challenges without the time constraints and busy schedules that often go along with the school routine. It is possible to provide students with substantial free time and still address learning difficulties without feeling overwhelmed. It’s also a chance to work on skills away from others who appear to grasp the same content with less difficulty. Even the most supportive learning environments include students observing each other’s strengths and challenges, often drawing false conclusions about their own self-worth in response. Summer vacation is the perfect time for harnessing potential and preparing for future success.