Summer Skill Building Tips


summerskillbuildingtipsResearch states students retain more of their learning in year-round programs or programs with short breaks throughout the year. With all of the budget cutbacks, ESY may not be an option for your child. Here are some tips on things you can do to ensure your child has a productive summer full of learning opportunities:

  • Enlist teacher’s help with your summer plan: seek advice and input from your child’s teachers, aides and therapists about skills to work on over the summer. Research computer programs, workbooks, reading lists, and home physical exercises plans that will help to teach these skills.
  • Sign Up for Summer Programs & Classes:
    • Aquatic therapy with a physical or occupational therapist is a great way to keep your child’s motor skills progressing through the summer. Aquatic therapy addresses a wide range of needs including orthopedic, neurological, sensory-based or emotional needs.
    • Therapeutic riding is recommended not only for children with certain physical disabilities but also for children with cognitive delays, children with AD/HD, or children with autism spectrum disorders. Look for a program with NARHA-certified instructors and staff.
    • Summer camps often have extra resources to include children with special needs. There may also be a therapeutic summer camp in your area designed especially for children with special needs. Begin your search by contacting your local family resource center, city recreation departments, or state & county-run therapy programs to see what they may offer (see links and resources below).
    • Travel with Your Child: Visit a state park or an historical site where your child can learn some history, develop new vocabulary, and practice their communication skills. For travel tips with your special needs child, please see
  • Organize play groups: Work on social skills even when school is out. Find out who is staying in town and available for a weekly play group. Staying in touch with friends on a regular basis is important for children working on their social skills and trying to develop appropriate friendships. For more information on social skills groups please see–emotional/social-skills-toolkit.html.
  • Make daily routines therapeutic: If your child needs to work on upper body strength, have them help in the garden with planting or weeding. Fine motor skills can be developed by helping you cut out coupons for groceries. Make a ‘picture’ grocery list by cutting out pictures of items you need at the store to help your child shop with you.
  • Family Time: Summer is a great time to plan time together – being available to your child and giving them extra time and attention without the hectic pace of the school year is invaluable. Take advantage of the time and weather to take a hike, enjoy a long picnic, and play in the sprinklers. After all, that is what summer is for!

 Links and Resources »