Summer learning programs for kids who learn and think differently

By Julie Rawe

At a glance

  • Many districts are trying to make summer school more fun and engaging.

  • Some kids may be eligible for special education services during the summer.

  • Summer learning options can range from pricey specialized camps to free programs at public schools or libraries.

Even when school is out for the summer, kids can keep learning through a summer learning program. Summer can be a great time to learn new skills and keep old ones from getting rusty. 

This may be especially true in 2021 as schools start to make up for learning time that was lost during the coronavirus pandemic. States and local school districts got a big funding boost in March when the American Rescue Plan was signed into law. This emergency funding includes billions of dollars that must be spent in certain ways:

  • Addressing the impact of lost instructional time, using summer programs and other evidence-based initiatives
  • Providing summer enrichment programs
  • Meeting the needs of students with disabilities

Some summer programs focus on academics. Others focus on enrichment, like arts or athletics. And many programs offer a mix of both. 

Summer learning can help struggling students catch up — and hopefully have some fun along the way. Explore summer learning options for kids who learn and think differently.

Dive deeper

Key takeaways

  • Summer programs include extended school year (ESY) services, summer school, or other local classes.

  • Summer ESY is optional.

  • Summer learning can be important. But so is starting school relaxed and rested.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Julie Rawe is the special projects editor at Understood.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Miriam Nunberg, Esq., EdM is an attorney, advocate and consultant who helps parents of students with disabilities navigate the New York City public school system.