Summer is here and every kid I know is excited about having the summer off. I remember that feeling well and see it in all the kids I know. However, it is really important that kids do not lose hard earned skills during the summer. What can parents do to help kids maintain skills?
Who needs summer therapy?
The goal of summer therapy is to prevent kids from loosing skills developed during the school year. In my view, any child who has language and literacy skills which are not at grade level needs summer therapy. Some of our kids with hearing loss have 12 month IEP’s so, although they may not have as much therapy in the summer as they have during the regular school year, they have therapy which is designed to maintain and maybe improve skills.
What can parents do?
First, parents need to know what their children’s language, literacy and academic skills are. Are they at grade level? If yes, the goal is to keep them there. If they are delayed, work to build skills.
Talk to teachers and therapists about what they recommend to work on during the summer – what skills need help. If you can find what books might be used in the next school year, you can take a look at them and, perhaps, start exposing your child to the information in the book.
READ, READ, READ
Every child can use vocabulary building. Summer is a terrific time to read more books. Every child should have a library card. Go to the library and have children select books they think they are interested in. Even when children know how to read they receive benefit from being read to. Parents should find time every day to read to their children. At least 30 minutes should be the goal. Try selecting a book to read to your child that is a little above his/her reading level. If you find something that interests your child, it will be easier to keep them involved. Read and discuss the book. Be sure your child understands what you are reading. Read a few paragraphs, ask some questions, ask the child to summarize what you read. Discuss it. If your child is having problems understanding, work on smaller sections – maybe one paragraph at a time. If this is still difficult, you may need to go to an easier book. It is really important that we don’t just read to our children, but we check that our children understand what is being read and that we use this opportunity to learn now vocabulary and concepts.
Once kids have learned to read, they need to read every day. The more they read, the more they learn. Younger kids can read to their parents (or to the family dog) but parents need to talk about the books with the children. It is not enough to read the words. They need to read to understand so it is valuable if parents ask questions about the book and discuss the book with the child.
Other academic skills
If children are having problems with other academic areas, such as math, it would be useful to do some math practice. Parents may be able to do this or may require assistance from others.
Developing social skills
The summer is a good time to work on social skills. Find activities in which your child can participate. Summer camp is a wonderful place to build social skills. Day camp is a good way to start. Sleep-away camp is great for older kids. Enrolling kids in sports activities can also be a good place to build social skills. Community centers and the local Y likely also have a lot of opportunities for kids to participate in group activities which helps build social skills.
Taking care of technology in summer activities
It is important to make sure that hearing aids, cochlear implants, bone anchored hearing aids, and remote microphone systems are working well for a child to participate well in social situations. Children need to learn how to manage their technology. Supervisors in the camp or sports activities need to understand how equipment works and how to use it. Unless the technology is waterproof, everyone needs to understand that it must stay away from water. If a child has technology that is not waterproof, it will make it difficult for a child to hear in the swimming pool. So many kids really find this hard.
Use the summer well
Unfortunately, kids with hearing loss cannot waste the summer. The summer needs to be a time when learning is still critical. Try and figure out what your child needs to learn and work on building those skills.