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What Are Special Needs Parents Doing This Summer?
What are your summer plans?
By Nicole Bovell Posted in IEP 0 Comments 6 min read
6 Questions You Should Know The Answer To Previous Transition to Summer for Special Needs Children  Next

With summer knocking on our doors, many school districts are breaking for their summer vacation. This time can be challenging for some children who have difficulty with transitioning or could be a much needed break for children and their families.

During the summer, many families continue some type of therapy or service to keep their child(ren) in a routine. If this is you, making the most of your child’s summer therapy should be a priority. Whether your child is attending Extended School Year or a summer camp, summer therapy for special needs children can help children make significant gains developmentally, functionally, and behaviorally. Summer time is also a time that special needs children can continue to:

  • improve their communication skills,
  • build trust in others,
  • develop socialization skills,
  • decrease isolation,
  • control their impulses and emotions, and
  • learn about limits and boundaries.

Unfortunately, some therapies or summer programs last only a week to a few weeks. However, this does not mean that your child will not make some progress over the summer. As a result, follow these tips to make the most of your therapy time.

  • Stay consistent. Keep up with your child’s schedule. Do not skip any days if you can help it. You want to ensure your child participates in the full time that is allocated (and that you may be paying for).
  • Stay involved. Know exactly what is going on in the therapy. Understand your child’s goals and monitor their progress.
  • Ask questions. If you have a question about what is happening in the school or during a therapy session…ASK! Sometimes parents are shy about asking questions. But remember, this is your child and you want the best for them.
  • Stay in touch with your child. Ask your child about their day and what they have learned. If your child is able to communicate this information, have them tell you about their favorite part of the day.
  • Take a break. On non-therapy days, take a break and have fun! Go to the park, swimming pool or an amusement park to enjoy the day.
  • Include extra sensory activities. This is especially important for children with any related sensory issues. You want to keep you child occupied during those down times. You can make sensory crafts, play sensory games or have them experiment with food items.
  • Remember that play is therapy. Seek any extracurricular activities that offer therapeutic benefits, such as swim or music lessons. These activities are learning experiences, while your child is having fun.
  • Keep in touch. If your child really responded to their therapist, camp counselor or teacher, stay in touch with them. Hopefully, they can provide the same services during the year or next summer.
  • Last but not least, break away. I think this is the most important tip for parents…make time for yourself. Every parent needs a break. So if you can, take a mini vacation or do something special for yourself.

As the summer continues, stay active! No matter your child’s ability or disability, summer programs are a great opportunity for children to enjoy their summer, while experiencing activities that can help them grow and progress. Continue to stay involve and watch your child experience a summer that they will never forget.

BUT WAIT! There is another part of making the most of your summer that you do not want to forget!

Reading Your Child’s IEP


You want to understand your child’s IEP, so that your child is getting the best services that they need AND you know if the IEP is being implemented appropriately. A good tip is to read it from the beginning to the end and again from the beginning to the end.

Unfortunately, many parents do not do this.

So what should you be looking for? Here is a list of the things that you should understand in your child’s IEP:

  • their disability,
  • evaluations, if applicable,
  • their strengths and weaknesses,
  • goals and objectives proposed for the next school year,
  • the accommodations that will be provided in the classroom and for testing,
  • their placement, and
  • their progress at the end of the school year.

You want to read and reread over your child’s IEP so when school begins in the Fall:

  • you know exactly where your child left off academically and behaviorally;
  • you will be able to observe if your child shows any signs of regression;
  • you will be able to track your child’s services at the beginning of the year;
  • you will be able to jot down any concerns that you may have; and
  • you will know if the school is in full compliance with your child’s IEP at the beginning of the school year.

Many parents are unaware if the school is following their child’s IEP and only find out later that the school is not in compliance. (Sadlysome parents never find this out). However, if you know your child’s IEP from the beginning of the school year, you can prevent any mishaps.

I know familiarizing yourself with an IEP can be intimidating and difficult at times, so this why you should use your summer to understand special education terminology, acronyms, disabilities, and anything else that you are unfamiliar with.

What if my child is in ESY?

If your child is in ESY, keep and review all progress reports, data sheets, observations notes and/or communication logs that you have received during ESY. You want to review these items and understand what progress your child has made over the summer, so you will know where they most likely will begin in the Fall.

One final and important note…

Read over your parental concerns and IEP meeting notes in the IEP to see if any additional items that were proposed in the meeting have been implemented and followed. If not, these are things that can be addressed at your child’s next IEP if it is early in the school year or you can ask for an IEP at the beginning of the school year to amend your child’s IEP.

Happy Summer!

What will your family be doing?

how to have a great school year
Start preparing for next school year!
What are special needs parents doing this summer

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