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By Joyce Cattani, Special Education Specialist

[Spring 2018 NYPT]

Another school year is almost over. For special education kids, reviews are done and decisions made for the next school year.

All kids regress over school breaks and vacations, especially over the summer.

For most students, the typical review or reteaching period ranges between 20 and 40 school days.

Some special education students require additional instruction to “recoup” abilities because of “substantial regression.” Substantial regression is a student’s inability to maintain developmental levels due to a loss of skill, set of skill competencies, or knowledge during the summer.

If a student needs a review period of eight weeks or more, substantial regression has occurred and the student may meet the criteria for extended school year (ESY) services. These services may include specialized instruction or daily instruction in special class programs.

Before the school year is over, reach out to your child’s special education teacher(s) and service providers to find summer activities you can do with your child, whether or not they receive ESY services.

Take advantage of every activity that may foster learning.

The most important thing you can do is READ, READ AND READ. Read to your kids. Read with them. Let your children see you reading. Children imitate behaviors that they see.
When children read aloud, they use multiple senses: hearing, speech and touch. For multisensory learners this can help improve their experience.

You and your kids can also play with sensory materials. Use play dough or, even better, make your own. Draw letters and shapes in shaving cream or in sand. Use short stubby crayons. Use chalk to write and draw on the driveway.

These fun activities can help your child improve fine motor skills, lengthen attention span, and teach them to calm down.

Develop family traditions: sing a song together, recite a poem, have a family game night. Playing board games together as a family can reinforce skills like turn taking, reading, following multi-step directions, and social skills. Beside all the fun, think of all the memories that you will make together.

Kids also need to engage in physical activities. There are so many things that can help your child be active. You can lead by example. Walk with them. Fly a kite. Play with bubbles. Use hula hoops. Let them dance in the rain. Use your imagination and find fun.

Besides planning all this fun, take some time to organize your IEPs and other documents for the new school year. Write an introductory letter to your child’s new teacher.
Remember that you can’t be “super-parent” 24 hours a day. Take one day at a time, and take that day positively.

Stop and smell the roses. Keep and use your sense of humor. Be sure to spend time with your kid and celebrate them for the unique and special people that they are. Savor every smile, every hug and every moment of every triumph.

While you are doing all this, be sure to have that extra ice cream cone and jump in one more puddle. Kids grow up before you know it.