If your child struggles with school work all year, you have an important decision to make for summer break. You might wonder what your best option is.
1) Do you relieve all of that academic pressure and let your child just be a kid? No expectations?
2) Do you hire tutors all summer long in an effort to catch your child up in subjects that have been the most problematic?
3) Do you double down on specialty programs designed to help struggling learners?
4) Or do you do your best to keep the gears turning over the summer by helping with academics at home?
Summer Break Option 1
Let’s take a look at the first option, no expectations. You might be surprised that someone focused on helping struggling learners learn would support option 1.
I do, but only for a limited time.
Kids need a break, especially kids who feel like they can’t seem to get anything right in class, who may have kept their guard up all year, hoping that no one will discover just how severe their learning challenges are. They certainly need a chance to blow off some steam and experience some zero-pressure freedom.
That said, students who have learning difficulties will likely lose some of those gains they made throughout the year, and lose them quickly. So, give your child a break from academics this summer for sure, but not for too long. I recommend no longer than 2 weeks at a time.
Summer Break Option 2
Should you hire a tutor (or 2 or 3)? My short answer is, it depends. If it’s a specialty tutor, meaning one who is trained to help students with learning difficulties, maybe. If it’s a tutor hired specifically for math, or reading, or spelling, for example, I vote no. I explain my reasons why in this post:
Summer Break Option 3
If you’re lucky, you might be able to find a summer program designed specifically to help out-of-the-box learners near you.
Here’s the catch. These programs can become really REALLY expensive.
If you have the funds, and if the program you’ve found has a good or great track record helping students with similar needs, then I say this is a worthwhile option to explore.
Keep in mind, these summer programs are typically just a jump start. You will want to maintain the momentum throughout the year, which requires an ongoing investment.
Be aware, just because it’s expensive does not mean results are guaranteed.
Summer Break Option 4
Perhaps you plan to work together with your child at home to strengthen academics.
First I’ll tell you what I love about this plan:
1) You and your child work together.
2) You observe, first hand, exactly what your child struggles with, and can tailor your work accordingly.
3) You have the freedom to adjust “learning” time to fit into the family’s summer schedule.
Here’s what I don’t like about this plan:
Likely you’ve already spent some time helping your child with reading, writing, math, or other academic skills throughout the school year. If your child continues to struggle with these, then repeating the same type of help may leave you in the same place that you started.
Sure, your child won’t succumb to the dreaded summer slide. However, those major gains you were hoping for may not materialize. Your child may still be unprepared for the ever-increasing expectations when the new school year begins.
Summer Break Option 5
Yes, I do believe that you have another option. I’m a little biased, but I think it may be the best option.
Does relieving academic pressure (option 1) appeal to you? How about working with your child at home, or at the beach, or wherever you land (option 4)?
If so, consider option 5 this summer. Learn to implement effective intervention strategies that target not just academic skills, but the underlying skills that support academics.
How? With a comprehensive online training program created just for parents. (All interested educators are welcome as well.)
The course is designed not only to help students overcome learning difficulties. It’s also designed to put the power of children’s learning abilities into parents’ own hands.
The happy consequence? You’ll develop a much deeper understanding of your child’s unique challenges. You may also develop an even deeper connection with your child.
Start by watching the free online training, Looking at Learning Differences. It’s a great place to gain clarity around the learning difficulties your child faces. I sincerely hope you’ll join me!
IMPORTANT UPDATE: The complete course is now closed. However, free and paid online training remains available, to parents and educators. Explore your options!