Children and youth with special needs may be at risk to “lose” or forget some of the skills they have been learning at school. There are many things you can do to help make sure your child has an opportunity to use and practise their skills and still have a fun-filled summer.
1. Visit the local library – If you are not already a member, join and take advantage of all the great resources. Most libraries have large print, and audio books for children with visual impairments, or digital books for reading on tablets or electronic readers. These different formats can provide a change for the child and make it easier to engage in “reading”. In addition, most libraries run regular story times and the opportunity for your child to engage in a group experience can be very motivating. The book may be made more interesting with a celebrity “reader” or an animated program leader. There may also be special events when authors or entertainers are featured in a session at the library.
2. Join a summer reading challenge – Many libraries offer reading challenges with rewards for the number of books read over the summer holidays. Or you could create your own challenge with rewards for reading each book or for the total read in a set period.
3. Bake or cook at home – Baking special treats or cooking everyday meals provides lots of opportunities for reading, writing and numeracy skills. Children can read and follow recipes as they help in the kitchen. They can also learn to measure ingredients or make calculations to halve or double recipes. Favorite recipes can be copied into a personal cook book or saved on the computer.
4. Take a trip – Planning and taking a trip using maps and travel guides provide more literacy opportunities. The trip can be across the country or round the block and there will be place or street names to learn, symbols to identify and recognize and the fun of the outing.
5. Use a manual – Summer may be the perfect time to make a new craft or build something new. Operation or assembly manuals, in print or on-line, can provide purposeful reading and the link between the words and the actual item are reinforced. Success at the end, or the mistakes along the way, will reinforce the value of reading skills.
6. Add some music – Making music and singing provides lots of opportunities to learn new sounds and to strengthen the link between sounds and words. Rhyming songs will help children recognize sound patterns and work on oral language skills that are critical to literacy. You can make your own instruments and sing at home, or attend an outdoor concert or music event. An outdoor concert at a local venue may be free or low cost and provides a memorable experience.