One of the most difficult things to do as a teacher is to finish the school year. Most people think it would be the best part of the job; after all there are two months of relaxation theoretically looming within reach. However, teachers all know that as soon as school lets out for the summer, their students are going to start losing all of the knowledge and skills they worked so hard to gain throughout the year, often called the “summer slide.” This is especially difficult for special education teachers who work so closely with students who need extra help just to make those gains. To make the transition less frustrating for the teacher, student, and parents, consider gathering resources to help the students stay academically active over the summer.
There are many summer reading camps available to students outside of local school districts. Inquire with the district office to see if there are any special projects being implemented for students in your area.
- Scholastic – The Scholastic Summer Challenge has reading challenges for children from ages 3 all the way to young adult. Students can read to help their school win prizes or parents can use the reading list as a guideline for finding age, or reading level appropriate books, for their child to explore over the summer. There is a way to register students before the end of the school year so they are ready to start as soon as school is over.
- Barnes and Noble – The Barnes and Noble program is a bit more laid back but still offers a great variety for students and a prize for students who complete their reading journal. Students choose books from the book list and write in a journal (or have a parent help them write) about what they have read in each book. Once they have completed their summer journal they can submit it to a local store for one of the free books available for their grade level.
Free summer math programs are much more difficult to find. Fortunately there are plenty of great free math games sites that will help keep math skills sharp and may help students who have struggled with math become stronger in the subject.
- Marshall Math Resources – Compiled by an elementary school, this list of resources is quite comprehensive. Most of the resources are for basic math skills but may be useful for students struggling with basic math in middle school or high school.
- Math Fact Practice – This is a fast paced game that lets students choose what they want to practice; addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. Students also choose the difficulty level and the duration of the game. At the end of each game they are given a score sheet to see how they have done compared to previous attempts.
Even if the parents or students are not receptive to these ideas do encourage them to continue to stay academically engaged over the summer whether it is with school programs, youth groups, or outings with family. How do you help your students prepare for continued learning throughout their summer vacation?