What kind of summer learning should you do with your kids with dyslexia?
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Summer is just around the corner and many of us are considering what, if any, academic learning to do over the next few months.
It’s important to remember that kids are always learning, but when is it a good idea to plan for some more academic learning into your summer break?
If you’re reading (or listening to) this post, you’ve probably heard the term ‘summer slide’. That phrase is based on research showing how kids can lose up to 30% of what they’ve learned during the school year over the summer break.
As homeschoolers, we are not immune to this – especially if we’re homeschooling kids with dyslexia or any other language-based learning difficulties who have trouble remembering even without the summer slide.
Reasons NOT to do summer school
Before we talk about when and why to plan for some summer learning, let’s look at a few reasons NOT to do summer school.
- Your elementary-aged kids haven’t finished their curriculum. If you all really want to finish or are enjoying the curriculum, then yes, go ahead and keep working on it through the summer. But, if your motivation is to check off the box of finishing for finishing’s sake – don’t do it. You need a break from the pressure of teaching as much as your kids need a break from learning. One exception to this could be math. Doing a few math lessons per week year round can help kids not forget what they’ve been learning and help them stay on grade level if they are able. For more information on expectations and priorities for learning during the elementary years, read this post.
- Your kids are becoming resistant to learning, If your kids are showing signs of resistance to school beyond the usual minor resistance, it may be healthier for everyone to take a break from formal learning. Summer is a great time to be a little more intentional about cultivating an enjoyment of learning with experiences like cooking fun food, planting a garden, getting or training a pet, day trips to farms, museums, and nature preserves, doing a few fun camps, or whatever is of particular interest to your kids. This break from academics is sometimes referred to as ‘deschooling’. You can learn more about what deschooling is as well as when and how to use one to restore your child’s natural love of learning here. Another article that may be helpful if you are experiencing strong resistance to learning is this – Help for the Shut Down Learner.
When summer learning may be good
Let’s look at some reasons why some academic learning in the summer may be good.
- You want to finish a curriculum. I know I just discouraged this thinking a minute ago but finishing a curriculum over the summer can be good if you intentionally planned to school on a year round schedule. Year round schooling is choosing to have a more relaxed learning schedule during the traditional school year by allowing time to complete a curriculum during the summer months. Learn more about homeschool schedules here. Another reason to finish a curriculum over the summer may to be to complete a high school requirement. Be aware however, that high school credits are based on time spent learning. If your child has worked on a curriculum or course and spent at least 60 hours for a semester (roughly 4 hours per week average) or 120 hours for a yearlong course (roughly 4 hours per week average) that counts as a credit. NOTE: It is recommended by HSLDA that your student completes at least 75–80% of the assignments in a textbook to earn the credit but this is entirely up to you! For more information on expectations and learning in the high school years, check out my Homeschool High School Essentials Course.
- Remediation of weak areas of learning. For kids with language-based learning difficulties like dyslexia, learning to read and spell can take a lot longer than for traditional learners. As long as our kids aren’t feeling super discourage or resistant (see above), it can be a good idea to continue with remediation by continuing with a tutor or by doing remediation at home to work on areas of weakness over the summer. Learn more about the best at home reading programs for dyslexia here.
- Gives some structure to your days. Hands up if you’re already worried that your kids will gravitate towards screens without some kind of structure to their days. A daily structure or routine can be a life saver for families during the summer. I like to find things like math fact review, handwriting practice, Hi-Lo books for them to read, etc.
- Kids forget less. The bottom line is that all kids forget some of what they learned over the summer break. By spending a small amount of time either daily or a few days per week, that summer slide will be less.
Do what’s best for your family
There have been years where we just stopped our school year routine and didn’t think about any formal learning until well into September and there have been times that we buckled down and signed up for intensive summer tutoring programs. Which plan best meets the needs of your family now? Is your child wanting to work over the summer? Are they needing a complete break? Or more likely, will some light summer learning help your family the most? Either choice is highly personal. The important thing to remember is that your kids will be fine if they take a break.
Ideas for summer learning
After 27 years of homeschooling, our summer learning has looked very different depending on our family dynamics. Things we have tried are:
- Doing some academic learning 2-3 days per week
- Signing up for tutoring over the summer
- Purchasing a new curriculum for summer review
Best Resources for Summer Learning
Remediating reading is rarely a bad idea. I’ve written an entire post on ideas for keeping kids reading over the summer. You can read 4 Ways to Avoid the Summer Slide in Reading here.
Essentially, you can continue with your current reading program, hire a tutor, or use a new program for the summer months. My top pick and what we’ll be using this summer is Reading Horizons at Home. Reading Horizons at Home is an online Orton-Gillingham program that we have been using for years to help with reading, reading fluency, sight word memory, building vocabulary, and improving spelling.
Reading Horizons has offered my readers a special summer discount of 20% off any Reading Horizons At-Home software product or upgrade from a trial, using the promo code ReadingNow. This is a very affordable way to have effective reading instruction without having to drive to a tutor. Each 1-year subscription is good for 2 students as well! You can read my review of Reading Horizons Elevate here.
More reading resources including curriculum, games, and resources for parents and teachers: 100 Resources for Teaching Reading.
Summer math learning strategies include:
- Keep working your usual math curriculum.
- Focus on learning math facts (see resources below)
- Math tutoring
Something we’re doing this summer that I’m excited about is to supplement our usual curriculum, Teaching Textbooks, with a few levels of Math-U-See. We’re enjoying the a-ha moments of using this hands-on program for some areas of math struggle. It also includes a worksheet generator and a free online math fact drill option that we’re loving.
Check out this list of 100 Best Math Resources for Kids who Struggle With Math.
Other useful summer learning for kids with dyslexia
Grammar: Work through a page of a workbook like Daily Grams every few days
Handwriting: Work through a few pages of a handwriting workbook every few days
Typing: Find a free typing program to work on over the summer. Typing.com is a good one. Learn more about teaching typing to kids with dysgraphia and dyslexia here.
Online books clubs or classes. Outschool is an excellent resource. Get $20 off your first class with my Outschool referral link.