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The challenges you face with your children with special needs don’t go away just because it’s summer. You may even feel more challenged during these months because of the additional free time. And taking time off, even for a few weeks, can result in the infamous summer brain drain. While relaxing, those few weeks could prove detrimental to children with extra learning needs or who struggle to retain information.

So how do you keep your child with special needs focused and engaged, while still having fun? There are plenty of educational tools, community activities, and family fun ideas that will inspire your child and keep them learning during the warm summer months. Some you can do right at the computer in your own home, and others give you the opportunity to enjoy the weather while keeping your child actively learning.

Constructive and Fun Online Learning Tools

Special needs encompass many things and all children are different. Some children may fit into one category while others may touch many categories. When you look at the endless web-based learning options available, you should focus on those that cater to special needs children. Most web-based programs include the options to

  • Proceed at your child’s pace
  • Further develop current reading, writing, and math skills
  • Offer interactive learning lessons that are well-defined, fun and inspiring  
  • Provide concepts that are repeated, reviewed, and summarized for clarity
  • Teach concepts through songs, graphics, videos.

Many experts agree that a multimedia curriculum is ideal for children with short attention spans, ADHD, dyslexia, and other learning disabilities. Lisa, a mother of an ADHD child, says, “The program moved my daughter steadily through the lessons and once she grasped them she was appropriately quizzed. She also enjoyed the graphics and sound. They kept her engaged.”

What Interests Your Student?

The summer provides the perfect time to concentrate on your child’s interests. Maybe they like gardening, baking, or bird watching? Talk with your child and find out if they have an interest in something they’ve never done before. This not only gives them a break from school work, it also provides a different level of learning and discovering. Janet, a homeschool veteran, found various activities that kept her children socializing, learning, and having fun.

“During the summer we stay connected with other homeschooling families and would get together for bowling or water park dates when possible. I also have my daughter in an art class, because that’s her interest. My other kids, who’ve already graduated from homeschool, used to volunteer at summer camps or in any activities that were of interest to them. My oldest daughters loves horses, so she would work at horse camps or at an organization for hippotherapy. The local libraries have activities for kids, too.”

As summer approaches, take a few moments with your child to discuss some learning options for the months ahead. The options are almost limitless. If you’re traveling, make sure to look around for new learning opportunities – history, geography, and science are just the beginning! There are always new opportunities to discover. Find out what other homeschooling parents with children with special needs have planned. Maybe you can join them? Have fun with it, and remember, summer doesn’t have to be stressful. Make the most of your time by finding new things that inspire your child and expand their educational experiences.

Loosen the Reins

Maintaining the same schedule that you used during the regular school year won’t make summer feel special. The modifications will vary for each family, but you know your child and how he or she reacts to change. Use your intuition and vary times and lessons accordingly. As you change things up, explore other homeschooling options and methods. You may discover a new method that works even better than the techniques that you were using the previous year.

 

You can let your student help schedule therapy, decide when the learning begins, or even choose if the classroom setting should move outdoors. After all, it’s summer! Make a picnic lunch and bring your lessons along. Many web-based learning activities can be completed on a  tablet or laptop so your child can continue their lessons almost anywhere, at anytime. Changing your schedule makes the summer feel different, which may inspire some students. So, go ahead and loosen the reins, have some fun, and still meet your summer learning goals.

About the Author

Jamie Gaddy, B.S., M.Ed., Ed.D. has been a college education professor for over 17 years. Education has been an integral part of her life in both the classroom and as a principal. Six children later found her dissatisfied with traditional schooling and homeschooling became the better fit. She is also a pastor’s wife, remote project manager, and entrepreneur who now homeschools four of her six children (ages 11-17) in southern Georgia. Jamie loves to share about her homeschool experience and help other homeschoolers find success. Connect with her at [email protected]

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