As a mom, this time of year is always met with mixed emotions. On one hand, I LOVE the weather, being outside, travel and more time I can have with my kids. On the other hand, 2 1/2 months is a long time for kids to go without instruction and some structure. Or should I say it is now up to us, the parents, to put that structure in place! I'm sure you've all heard of the dreaded 'summer learning loss' or 'summer brain drain'. Unfortunately, this is a very real thing that's been researched for decades and shown to be true. If your child receives additional supports during the school year (speech, resource/special education, OT, other therapy services), they may be at even higher risk for regression if some summer supports aren't in place.
Don't fret! As we head into summer, this month's post is meant to provide ideas and resources to prevent that summer learning loss and to keep your kiddos engaged in learning over break.
1. Building or maintaining language skills (oral, receptive, social) and overall communication does NOT have to be complicated and expensive. Take a look at this great article (from the ASHA Leader) that provides activities you may ALREADY BE DOING and how to boost language while doing it!
Making the Most of Summer Fun: Language Based Activities for Kids and Their Families
2. I live in Ann Arbor so I can only speak to the Ann Arbor District Library's summer game/reading program. However, I would guess that if you live ANYWHERE else with a decent public library system, they'll be running a similar program. So go to your local library and ask about the summer reading program for kids. It usually involves great book/reading lists, prizes and lots of fun so check it out! As I've already written about, reading is one of the BEST ways to build those language skills so if that's the ONLY 'academic' thing you got your child doing this summer, it's a GREAT one!
3. Summer camp! Every town has them, spanning topics from cooking and gardening to Pokemon and rock bands! While they may not seem 'academic' or 'language-based', they keep your kids engaged and interacting with peers (which is a HUGELY important social language skill, by the way). Most importantly, they're FUN so figure out what your child is interested in and sign them up for something 'new' and 'different' this summer.
(for Ann Arbor/surrounding area Townies)
4. Stats on summer learning loss (and tips to promote continued learning!) from Oxford Learning
5. Lastly, I wouldn't feel like I was doing my job if I didn't mention the great benefits to continuing on with summer speech and language therapy. Again, for kids with more learning challenges who receive additional school-based services during the school year (speech/OT/PT/resource), they may not qualify for school-based summer services. This may be a good time to seek out private therapy or therapy groups to prevent regression on all of those great speech and language skills they worked so hard on during the school year. Private therapists can often just pick up where school-based services left off and provide a new and fun environment for summer!
Learning doesn't have to stop during summer. Every picnic, walk to the park, trip to the library or family car trip is loaded with opportunities for language and communication. Talk about what you're doing or where you're going, describe what you see or how you feel and HAVE FUN during these 'lazy' days of summer.