Avoiding the “Summer Slide”


Submitted By: Desiree Lawrence, BCBA

The school year has finally come to an end.

It is hard work maintaining a tight schedule during the school year. I know this, because I have 3 sons, 2 of which are school-aged. There have been times (closer to the end of the school year) that if they had on clothes and shoes, I did not care if it matched. We tend to take it easy during the summer and celebrate the hard work we’ve accomplished during the school year. We sleep in, swim, eat poorly, stay up late, hangout outside, watch TV and travel for the entire summer break. And each year, come August, I slide my children back into the swing of things and get them ready for school mode. It always starts out great, they are generally ready to mingle with friends, and luckily my kids love school so they are anxious to get back.

9 weeks after the start of school, interim report cards get sent home and I go into panic mode wondering how in the world my child is delayed in reading and regressed in math. This is generally the moment I start to reflect on what we did all summer and where they were at the end of the previous school year. And I remember the flyer that was sent home from the teachers at the end of the year warning me of “The summer slide” and urging me to read daily to stay sharp on skills. Then the guilt sets in because it is all my fault. I was so busy keeping my kids busy having fun that we didn’t take the time to read or brush up on school work.

This is all coming from a mother with typical children. It is especially difficult, yet important, for a parent with a special needs child. The skills that they have spent countless hours mastering all year long are detrimental to their success and development in the future. I know this is easier said than done, but parents I am warning you of “The summer slide” and urging you to stick with the program as best as possible. It may look different for your child in terms of what you should work on and focus on this summer. Speak with your child’s therapists, supervisors and teachers to find out 1-2 things you could focus on for the summer and really work to stay sharp in those areas. It will give your child a giant head start leading into the upcoming school year and reduce having to backtrack to catch them up for the skills they’ve lost.

Have a happy and safe summer!