What I did on my summer vacation……

By Jenny Hastings, School administrator, retired

Many of us might remember getting this essay prompt from a teacher at the beginning of a new school year. It served a good purpose in eliciting fun summer activities AND drawing attention to the fact that summer was over and school back in session. I am writing today in hopes we can all answer this question in a meaningful way for our LD children when August rolls around.

Without a doubt, LD students work harder than most to achieve a successful year. Homework done in 25 minutes by a neurotypical child may take twice that time. Studying for a test can take more repetitions for secure memory. Writing even short answers is laborious (for child and parent). And so it is that often we really want our child to “take a break” and have a “real summer”. And we want it for ourselves also. The extra work and accompanying strain wear everyone out.

It is because learning and performing at school is more difficult that I propose a different plan. Summer is a great time to solidify past learning, improve weak skills and even to work ahead to get a jump start on the challenges of the next year. It is my hope that our children can have enough fun to have that “real summer” and enough time to work with a good tutor/learning specialist or home program to keep the learning going.

Research has alerted us to the erosion of skill development which can occur over the summer. And if a child completes a year with skill gaps and lags, it is folly to ignore the challenges this suggests for the upcoming year. It is my hope that every parent will end the school year with a good parent teacher
conference which can evaluate progress and provide recommended areas for maintenance and strengthening of skills. It is tough but our children deserve every opportunity for success!