Striking the Right Balance in Summer Learning for Special Needs Students

By Zipperer, Holly | The Exceptional Parent, June 2011 | Go to article overview

Striking the Right Balance in Summer Learning for Special Needs Students


Zipperer, Holly, The Exceptional Parent


Parents of special needs children know how hard their children work to master new skills. It can be heartrending when hard-won progress evaporates. Summer can present a particular dilemma to those with learning challenges. The freedom, recreation, and fun is something we all look forward to, but this break from learning can result in the loss or critical academic skills--something that may have a lasting impact on their educational development.

"Summer learning loss" is the regression that takes place between when children leave classrooms in June and when they return in September. A meta-analysis of summer learning loss studies by Dr. Harris Cooper of Duke University concluded that students lose one to three months of academic skills. This loss is not spread equally among all learners. Research shows that students who are at-risk are disproportionately affected, meaning that, on average, they fall further behind during the summer break.

A study by Tilley, Cox, and Staybrook showed that while some students with mild disabilities, such as hearing impairment, lost skills at about the same rate as general education students; students with moderate or severe disabilities experienced more severe summer learning loss. Not only did these students regress in academics, self-help and motor skills, but when they returned to school, it took them longer than typical students to re-learn the knowledge they had lost. This cycle--severe summer learning loss followed by a slower recouping of skills--means that over the course of their school careers, these students spend significant time attempting to regain lost ground rather than being educated to their fullest potential.

The Value of Summer Programming

Quality summer programming helps children to maintain competency skills over the summer. Summer classes reinforce academic learning in subjects like reading and math and provide an opportunity to practice social and behavioral skills with peers. By keeping skills fresh over the summer, students are better prepared to transition back into school in September and take on the challenges of a new academic year.

Summer programming for children with special needs has important quality-of-life benefits too. For special learners, summer break is often anything but a "vacation." The productive, predictable routine of school is replaced by a tremendous quantity of unstructured time. This can be disorienting, frustrating or lonely for a child with special needs. A summer program can foster friendships and provide opportunities to try new activities in a supportive environment. Socialization and recreation are important for special needs learners, but they may have difficulty taking part in mainstream sports or recreation activities. Issues such as health, motor planning, behavioral issues, over stimulating environments and difficulties inferring social cues and understanding abstract language can interfere with their participation. Well-chosen summer programming offers a predictable routine, meaningful activity and practice with academics and socialization, which can be difficult for many families to provide on their own.

What Are Your Options?

The multitude of camp and summer-program options can be overwhelming. For special needs children, some of the most common types of programs parents consider are Extended School Year (ESY) programs and recreational summer camps, which may be inclusive or have a special needs focus.

Extended School Year (ESY) is an academic summer-school program designed to stave off summer learning loss for students who studies show are most likely to be severely affected by it. ESY programs are often operated by schools and vary in length, quality and areas of instruction. While their goal is to prevent summer learning loss, in practice, ESY programs may be limited to three to six weeks. They may not include social or recreational components, both of which are important for special learners. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Striking the Right Balance in Summer Learning for Special Needs Students
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.