When summer vacation arrives, parents are faced with selecting
meaningful activities for their child with learning disabilities.
Many parents see summer as a time for catching up on academic skills
through tutoring, summer school, or one on one instruction with
parents. Other parents view summer as a much needed time to rest
and be free of the stress that is associated with school and learning
activities. Still others see summer as time for learning new skills
that there isn't time to learn during the school year. There is
no one correct answer. It all depends on the child and his needs.
Summer is a great time for students to do volunteer work. Volunteer
opportunities for teens are often listed in the newspaper. Red
Cross has a youth volunteer program as do many hospitals. Other
opportunities exist in nursing homes, senior centers and summer
camps. Volunteering has many advantages including enhancing self
esteem, job sampling and experience that can be listed on resumes
or for future job applications. Some schools also recognize distinguished
service graduates who contribute a significant number of volunteer
Swimming lessons, summer camps, summer sports camps and music lessons
are also summer options. These activities focus on areas of development
that might be neglected due to the demands of the regular school
year. When selecting summer activities, make sure that the leaders
or teachers of the activity have some understanding of your child's
special needs. If your child has trouble with following directions,
for example, provide information about effective ways to give him
directions. If he needs time to process information, tell the leader
how this is handled at school. Summer activities should have a
positive effect on the child. Not everyone is knowledgeable about
learning disabilities, so be prepared to share your knowledge to
enable your child to have a successful experience.
Some parents find that summer is the time to enhance skills. Tutoring
to improve reading, math, writing or study skills is often selected.
If formal tutoring is selected, it should be scheduled so that
the student still has some break in academic instruction before
school starts. Tutoring is often available from private tutors,
at some community colleges, through the community education programs
at some schools, through park and recreation programs, and through
teacher education programs at universities.
The following activities are some ideas that enhance learning that
could be done at home:
Elementary School Level
- Explore a summer reading program at the library.
- Use a children's cookbook to read and follow directions to make
favorite foods. Directions in cookbooks can be simplified
by numbering them to assist with sequencing.
- Encourage child to read the newspaper. Some newspapers have special
pages for children.
- Read to the child and talk about the book or stories.
- If possible, have child read books that could be used for book
reports next school year.
- Improve vocabulary by learning three new words a week. Post the
words on the refrigerator and talk about them each day.
Have the child write post cards to grandparents or friends. Make "child
size" post cards using 4X6 cards. Divide one side in
half using a dark line. Make lines on one side for the address
on the other side for the message. Have the child draw a
picture on the reverse side or cut one from a magazine.
- Older children could write in a journal each day. Encourage two
or three sentences.
- Write a letter to family or friends. Reluctant writers benefit
from filling in the blanks or dictating the letter to an
adult and then copying it.
- Use computer games to learn math facts, improve reading and vocabulary.
- Listen to math facts on tape or CDs (this can even be done in the
- Match or sort coins depending on child's age or add random sets
Secondary School Students
- Encourage reading of any type. Reluctant readers might
enjoy books on tape to listen to as they read.
- Many parents obtain the required reading list for the next grade's
English class and have the student read at least some of
the books in the summer.
Encourage vocabulary improvement through use of "Word a Day
- Readers Digest Vocabulary pages, or a vocabulary journal and dictionary.
If using the vocabulary journal, the student records any
word from reading that he does not know and looks it up in the dictionary
and writes down the definition.
- Read about places that the student will visit on vacation. Have
the student write about them in a letter or journal
- Figure mileage to various locations using a map scale.
- Go to www.math.com for
a variety of math review activities
- Go to www.bibliomania.com for
free online books, stories and poems.
- Use computer programs or ACT or SAT preparation books to prepare
for ACT or SAT testing.
The lists could go on and on. These are just a few ideas of how
learning can continue in the summer. Short learning sessions
throughout the summer can be
very productive. There should be plenty of time set aside for the child to
have fun as well.