We officially have 2 more weeks of school left this year. Many parents are overjoyed that the last day of school is fast approaching, especially if your family has embarked on virtual learning until the end of the school year. It has been a challenging year for many and parents have had to wear many hats this past school year. Home schooling has become the new norm. Many students have thrived, others have not. There has also been talk about a ‘gap year’ for students wishing to catch up. What I have experienced in the past year working with families is that some children are good visual learners and others are not. For those visual learners, although their grades have improved tremendously there remains lingering concerns about regression in social skills and social cues. This is a valid concern as most students will be finishing the school year from their rooms- in their safe space and not in the real world dealing with peer pressure, classroom interactions and all around school involvement that they normally experience.
Many of us love summer. In a typical learning setting, as soon as the last school bell rings, students grab their backpacks and race out the door, leaving all thoughts of unfinished assignments, poor grades and summer homework. What happens next? Sometimes it’s camp or summer reading programs. More often it’s a lot of TV watching, video games, social media, going out with friends, and avoiding anything that looks remotely like a book. Does this mean that every student is doomed to fall behind? No. Some students can thrive if given the right concoction of learning. Learning can come through many mediums. Summertime breaks can be a wonderful and challenging time for any student, but for children with anxiety and learning disorders, it can have many benefits and drawbacks. Each child is different in the way they’ll react to an extended break from school and their daily routine will be different. It is best to know your child’s needs and learning inclinations to best identify the right dose of learning for the summer. It is important to keep in mind the day-to-day work and atmosphere in classrooms can be overwhelming for some children, especially for those with any kind of learning disability or behavioral problem. A summer break enables them to relax and reflect on the educational experience they had, preparing them for the beginning of a new year in the fall.
Research shows that summer learning – no matter if it’s at a camp, summer school or library groups has a positive impact on both academic and social-emotional development. It provides structure to children’s summer experiences, making it more likely that they will stay engaged and focused and out of trouble. It also keeps their academic skills polished and in some cases, makes it possible for them to get ahead. However, summer learning can also be done from home. Keeping a structured routine at home is key. Encourage educational play and create an environment conducive to sensory input that will stimulate their minds in a positive manner.
New educational and social experiences can happen at the park, zoo or during family vacations and other outings where children can freely and organically practice appropriate interactions. These opportunities can help improve their understanding of social skills and interactions, self-confidence and friendships. through situations that would not typically happen in a structured classroom. Keeping up with an educational routine can provide stability and can help smooth the transition back to school in the fall. Avoiding regression is key and working to strike a balance between a fun leisurely summer break infused with summer learning is what students ( and parents) desire.