Even after school’s out for the summer, the learning can continue! Many kids may benefit from a summer learning program. Read on to explore the different options for kids with learning and attention issues.
Extended School Year (ESY) Services
If your child has an IEP, she may be eligible for ESY services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 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. The services offered are 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, her IEP will say so. And her case manager will likely 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 summer schedule conflicts with it. But you may need to note that formally in your child’s plan.
Traditional Summer School Classes
Some summer school classes are offered as part of the general education curriculum. Different schools and districts may have very different options. Check with your district to see what’s available and if there is any cost.
Some schools offer courses to help students improve their skills over the summer. Others schedule 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 raise their standardized test scores. Or a high school might hold optional summer writing groups for teens who want to practice for college applications.
You might want to think about enrolling your child in one of these classes if she doesn’t have an IEP. Or you could consider it if she does have a plan but doesn’t qualify for ESY services.
First, think about whether any of the summer school courses offered fits your child’s needs or interests. Then ask about enrollment. Some schools let students just opt into summer school. Others have a stricter entrance process.
Learning and Enrichment Programs
Of course, learning isn’t limited to academics. Some summer programs focus on other types of learning and enrichment. Certain schools in your district might offer summer programs that appeal to specific interests, such as a one-week science camp.
Organizations in your area might offer classes and programs that appeal to your child’s passions. For instance, your local zoo may have a program to introduce kids to zoology. A local art school might have classes for kids.
Search for “summer learning classes” or “summer enrichment programs” near your home. You might be surprised at the range of options—from courses to drop-in classes to camps. You may even find ones for kids with specific learning and attention issues.
Organizations like these may offer summer learning programs near you:
- 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 (search the website by “Disabilities or Special Populations”)
However your child ends up spending her summer, make sure she has time for play as well as work. And consider these tips to make her transition back to school as easy as possible.