Summer Learning Programs for Kids Who Learn and Think Differently
Lexi Walters Wright
At a Glance
Summer is a great time for kids to build on skills and learn new ones.
Kids might like learning programs that aren’t about academics.
Kids with an IEP might be eligible for extended school year (ESY) summer services.
Even after school’s out for the summer, kids can keep learning through a summer learning program. Here are options for kids who learn and think differently.
Extended School Year (ESY) Services
Kids with an
might be eligible for ESY services. ESY includes all school services that happen outside the regular school day. Afterschool tutoring is one kind of ESY service. But typically ESY refers to summer programs.
Summer ESY programs vary widely. They’re usually based on what a school thinks its students need. For example, a school may run a morning-only social skills program for six weeks. Or it might offer speech therapy or reading skills sessions during the summer.
If your child is eligible for summer ESY services, the IEP will say so. Your case manager should share the proposed summer class schedule with you in the spring, based on your child’s goals. The programs are free.
Summer ESY is optional. You can refuse it if you don’t want your child to attend, or if your child can’t make it. But you may need to note that formally in your child’s plan.
Traditional Summer School Classes
Some schools offer summer school classes as part of the
. Different schools and districts may have very different options. Check with your district to see what’s available and if there’s any cost.
Some schools offer courses to help students improve skills over the summer. Others have classes aimed at preventing kids from losing skills over the long break.
Summer school may be required in some cases and optional in others. For example, a grade school might give required summer math courses for kids who need to up their standardized test scores. Or a high school might have optional summer writing groups for teens who want to practice for college applications.
Summer school classes might be a good option if your child doesn’t qualify for ESY services. Think about whether your child needs or would like any of the courses. Then ask about enrollment.
Some schools let students just opt into summer school. Others have a stricter process.
Learning and Enrichment Programs
Learning doesn’t have to be about academics. Some summer programs focus on other types of learning. Some schools in your district might have specific programs, like a one-week science camp.
Organizations in your area might offer classes and programs, too. For example, your local zoo might have one that introduces kids to zoology. Or a local art school might have classes for kids.
Organizations like these might also have summer learning programs:
Your town’s recreation department
The YMCA or other community-based groups
Museums and performing arts organizations
Zoos, planetariums, and botanical centers
Adult schools or community colleges
The American Camping Association (you can search the website by “Disabilities or Special Populations”)
You can search online for “summer learning classes” or “summer enrichment programs” near your home to find more options.
Summer learning can be fun. If you don’t find anything that works for your family, though,
try not to stress. The most important thing is for kids to go back to school relaxed, healthy, and well rested.
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.