6 Summer Activities for Kids with Learning Differences

6 Summer Activities for Kids with Learning Differences

Two children reading together on the grass as part of a summer learning activity

How parents can help enhance summer learning 

Tips for enhancing summer learning:

  1. Have your child work on lessons for 15-30 minutes a day
  2. Create a summer schedule (and stick to it)
  3. Plan fun family outings
  4. Schedule playdates with friends and classmates
  5. Find a service project or volunteer
  6. Encourage physical activity
  7. Enroll your child in the S.M.A.R.T. Summer Literacy Program

Summer is usually a time for relaxation and fun. However, it’s also a time when students experience learning losses. It’s a phenomenon known as the summer slide. Students with learning differences may be particularly vulnerable to the summer slide. Add in learning losses due to COVID-19, school shutdowns, and navigating remote school, and your child may need extra help.

The Learning Lab discusses learning losses due to the summer slide and COVID slide. We also share six ideas to help ensure your child doesn’t fall further behind this summer.

Learning more about learning losses

The Summer Slide refers to learning losses that typically occur during the summer. A 2015 study It’s estimated that students lose up to 20% of school gains in reading and 27% of gains in math during the summer.

The problem becomes even more serious when we look at learning losses due to COVID-19. The long school closures last year affected all students, particularly those with learning differences. While some schools did reopen in the fall, others used a hybrid model or continued with remote education all year.

New research estimates the learning losses are up to 70% in reading and 50% in math. These are extremely scary numbers for students with learning differences. They already face an uphill battle in school. The upheaval of the past year has certainly taken a toll on them.

However, you are not without resources. There are plenty of activities you can do to help your child maintain academic learning gains.

1. Keep learning all summer long

Learning does not have to stop just because it’s summer. Encourage your child to practice reading and math every day. Stick to short periods based on your child’s age and level of expertise. 15-20 minutes is enough for younger kids, while older kids can work up to 30 minutes. 

These sessions don’t have to be heavily structured. In fact, staying away from “formal” lessons is best. If your child loves things like dinosaurs or the solar system, find books about those subjects. Fiction books are great, too. Books enhance your child’s reading ability, but they also engage their imagination and creativity. Math lessons can consist of flashcards, computer games, or apps that reward your child when he or she gives the right answer.

For a child with a learning difference, ask their teachers for recommendations on workbooks or other resources to use during the summer.

2. Stick to a schedule

It’s tempting to let routines fall by the wayside during the summer. Between vacations, summer camps, and later nights, it can be difficult to stick to a schedule. Still, you should try. It’s especially important for children with a learning difference. Changes in routine can lead to confusion and stress, causing your child to act out in different ways. Structure and predictability allow your child to feel safe, making learning easier.

One thing you can do is create a fun, visual calendar. Use markers or pictures from magazines to fill-in activities. Include time for schoolwork, exercise, and fun.

3. Make family plans

Your summer schedule should absolutely include fun. Plan lots of activities you can do with the entire family. Things like movie or game nights, a picnic, a children’s museum, or a day at the beach are all good ideas. Let your child choose some of the activities so they feel empowered and trusted to make decisions.

You can also plan activities with just you and your child. It’s a good time to have a long conversation that won’t be interrupted by another sibling.

4. Schedule playdates

Restrictions are lifting, allowing for small group gatherings. This means children can now have time to play with their friends. Playdates with friends are fun, of course, but they can also help enhance social skills and deepen friendships. If you can find out who will be in your child’s class next year, it’s a good idea to schedule playdates with them. That way he or she will feel more comfortable when school starts in the fall.

5. Find a service project

Books and flashcards are not the only ways to learn. Serving others in the community is a great way for your child to learn empathy and compassion for other people. It’s also a way to give your child a purpose, a way to help.

Maybe your family can volunteer with a local organization. Or do yard work and house cleaning for an elderly or sick neighbor. Some animal rescue organizations let kids and teens volunteer with stray dogs or cats looking to find new forever homes.

In the end, it’s best to consider your child’s passions and find ways to use that interest to serve others.

6. Stay active

It’s tempting to let your child sit in front of the TV or play computer games all day. It may be all he or she wants to do. However, it’s important to encourage your child to get daily exercise. Physical activity is good for the body and brain. If your child likes sports, maybe there is a specialized camp or local sports league for kids. Other ideas include planting a garden, swimming, or bike rides.

Take advantage of the S.M.A.R.T. Summer Literacy Program

If your child has a learning difference, they might benefit from The Learning Lab’s S.M.A.R.T. Summer Literacy Program. This program is designed for smart students who are a year or more behind in reading or math.

This program is designed for children who are:

  • At-risk or have been diagnosed with dyslexia
  • At-risk or have been diagnosed with a Specific Learning Disability (SLD)

The program uses S.M.A.R.T. Goals and the F.I.T.T. Principle to help children with learning differences maintain academic momentum during the summer.

Learn more about the programs we use for our S.M.A.R.T. students.

Find summer learning support for your child

If your child needs extra help, The Learning Lab is here. We offer in-person tutoring and virtual learning tools to help children avoid learning loss or catch up if they’ve fallen behind.

The Learning Lab recently expanded into our Davie location to better serve the Broward community. We offer summer learning support to children throughout Davie, Cooper City, Plantation, and Fort Lauderdale.

Contact us today for more information.



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