Friday, June 3, 2011

Summertime, and the living is easy, or is it?

Only two more weeks and school is out for the summer. Ashley will doing some ESY services but does have two weeks at the beginning of the summer and two weeks at the end with no school services. Ronnie isn't receiving any ESY services this summer.

I really want to make sure that first and foremost neither Ashley nor Ronnie lose any of the skills they acquired during this past school year. It was a great year for them both and their progress was quite visible. But at the same time, I want them to enjoy they summer and do all the summertime things that most kids get to do.

It's finding the balance that sometimes is difficult to achieve.

I know that even things like going to the pool or playing on a sports team can help maintain communication skills over the break. And, I can come up with enough tasks around the house to help maintain their self-sufficiency skills. But what about the academics?

Do you work on academics over the summer with your children? If so, do you have a structured schedule for that, or do you just try to fit it in when you can? And how do you decide what to work on? Is it based on their IEP, or based more on what you feel they can achieve? As we all know, sometimes the school's vision doesn't mesh with the parent's vision.

I know that as a child I was so excited over the summer to have time to just play, to not have to adhere to a schedule, and to explore new places. But I wasn't a child with special needs who needed a schedule, whose skills could regress rather quickly, and who had a tough time maintaining friendships with my peers.

What's your plan for the summer? Do you have things that have worked in the past, or are you going to try something new this summer? And, does your family have any special summer traditions that your children with special needs look forward to each year? Do you feel your children regress over the summer, and if so, is that just something you expect, or do you actively do things to overcome that?

Just wondering....


Trish said...

My son's elementary school gives the kids a summer packet each year when they visit the teachers in the next grade to meet them and see their classrooms. My son hated it last year, but I have already warned him this year that we ARE doing it!

I am going to be introducing keyboard skills this summer since he will be allowed to type assignments next year if he chooses to do so instead of handwriting them.

So much to think about!

Michelle Morgan-Coole said...

I use to work on academic stuff over the summer with the Blue Jay when she was younger. We don't have any ESY services for our kids here. I use to have a support person attend various summer camps with the Blue Jay - at the time, she needed the extra help because of the ketogenic diet, to deal with the possibility of seizures and to help smooth her interactions with the other kids and help her figure out the rules of the various games played by the campers. She was very capable physically of playing any games but needed extra help in figuring and remembering the rules. I would also send along some academic type workbooks that I had picked up here and there and have the support person and the Blue Jay find a quiet spot in the shade to work on them if the kids were participating in an activity that was a little too hard or uninteresting for her or if she was just tired out and needed a quiet time. It seemed to work well.

I don't bother doing that with the academics now; it's more life-skill focused. The Blue Jay no longer needs a support person to go with her to camps anymore and besides those camps where she is a particpant she enjoys volunteering as a "teacher" in pre-school type camps. That's a real win-win when we can set it up - she loves little kids and is totally happy and we focus on her learning to moderate her interactions with the campers - sometimes she can come across as very bossy (I don't think she even realizes it much of the time) and we have made good progress with that in these camps.

Other than that, last year for the first time I tried getting a respite person who was more or less of a peer of the Blue Jay's (she was actually a couple of years younger but quite grown up for her age) and the Blue Jay was in heaven - they planned their own days (subject to my approval) and some of it was just fun stuff (like going to the beach) but I made sure they incorporated some stuff I wanted to see happen - the Blue Jay loves cooking so together they planned a supper, did the grocery shopping, cooking and clean up (and I got out of making of a meal!), they traveled around on the local bus (I am trying to teach her safety and independence on the bus since that will be her means of transport as an adult), they went berry picking ... all in all, it worked out well. The Blue Jay had fun and I was happy with the array of the skills they covered.

MB said...

Nobody tell my kid summer is supposed to be a time for lying around doing nothing but watching the game show network for 10 hours a day (what *I* did as a kid). I work her like crazy in the summer, and swear she makes more progress in those 3 months than she does in the other 9 at school.