Summer is a great break for students. However, it can also lead to regressions in a student’s learning. Teachers spend most of August simply helping kids get acclimated back to school, and students are not academically where they were back in May. For those in speech therapy, regression means more time in special education and more time out of the classroom. If your child is receiving speech and language therapy, there are many things that you can do to prevent learning regressions.
Know Your Child’s Goals
Unless a person has personal experience with speech therapy, it may be difficult to know exactly what goes on during a session. For example, I know that a podiatrist is a foot doctor. But since I’ve never been to a podiatrist, I don’t know the intricacies of podiatry. I would have no idea where to even start when explaining podiatry. It is vital that parents establish open communication with their child’s speech therapist. Ask questions. Find out what your child is working on. Is your child working on increasing intelligibility? Specific speech sounds? Increasing comprehension of written language? Grammar? There are a large number of goals that your child may be addressing in speech therapy. The first step to help them avoid regression is simply to know what they are working towards. Then, ask your child’s speech therapist for specific ideas on how to target those goals at home.
Encourage Face-to-Face Communication
Screen time is somewhat of a controversial topic. Screens are everywhere – televisions, computers, tablets, phones, digital billboards, etc. It is difficult to avoid screen time completely, especially when older kiddos are home during summer months. However, children learn best through face-to-face communication. They learn through interactions with real people not by interacting with screens. I am not suggesting that we throw away all digital devices. I am suggesting that we limit children’s exposure to them. We can do this in a variety of ways.
- Model face-to-face communication
- Encourage social activities with friends and family
- Play outside
- Talk about their day
- Talk about your day
- Ask questions
- Tell stories
- Play games
- Enroll in summer camps
- Enroll in day camps
- Have play dates
Read. Read. Read.
No matter what goals your child has in speech therapy, reading will benefit them. Take weekly trips to the library. Read to your child. Have them read to you. Read about different topics that interest your child. Read for fun. Enroll in your local library’s summer reading program. Give incentives to read at home.
Expand on Daily Activities
Use daily activities such as driving in the car, grocery shopping, and sorting laundry as opportunities to encourage language development. Play games such as “I Spy” in the car to work on increasing vocabulary and categorization. Find all the groceries that start with your child’s target sound and practice saying that sound. For example, if you child is working on the R sound, find the radishes, rutabagas, rolls. Have your child help with daily chores such as sorting laundry to work on life skills. Assign your child the job of researching fun places to go for vacation to work on research paper writing. Have your child read a recipe and cook dinner to reinforce the understanding of written language and following directions.
Ask For Help If You Need It
It is okay to enroll your child in additional services if they need it. Public schools often offer summer school programs to children who require extended learning. You can also look into private speech therapy for the summer months. Look for local summer camps that address speech and language therapy.
Enjoy Your Break
It is okay to back off from school work during summer. Children should have a chance to relax. Go on vacation. Go to the pool. Go to the beach. Have some fun. You do not want your child to be completely drained by the time school returns in August. Continue to address goals, but do it in a fun way. If your child does need drill and practice work to address a skill, limit practice to 5-10 minutes at a time, but try to incorporate fun incentives and activities to keep their interest.
What tips and tricks to do you have to prevent the summer slide?