For people who care for children with disabilities …
Hope all is well with you. I just wanted to touch base before school is out and remind everyone that there is only one year left for your school to spend its stimulus money. In my last letter we talked about seeing where your school district was spending their stimulus funds.
Well, I did call our superintendent and I asked him where all the money was spent or was to be spent—to my surprise I received a detailed report as to how the monies where being allocated. While he agreed with me that more staff would be helpful, the fact is they would probably have to be let go once the stimulus money is gone. Instead, they are creating a number of pilot programs, such as a feeding program. They will collect data and if the results are good, use that to apply for grants later on to keep them going. I don’t know if any of you have followed up or got similar responses but I was very pleased with the outcome.
Now on to more pressing matters—how are we are going to keep our kids engaged in learning over the summer? I don’t know about you but I always get nervous about my kids losing all the knowledge that was instilled in them over the school year and then I start worrying about the next school year. So I asked Jack’s teacher, who is a Special Education Teacher, what I can do. Her response is below:
As far as keeping students on track over the summer, I am a firm believer in keeping things fun for them and using everyday summer activities as teachable moments. Some of the best things are also the simple things.
- Read to your child as well as with your child. The more they hear language read in a fluent and expressive way, the more they will pick up on what good readers do when they are looking at a text. Read a book that is high interest for the child but a bit over their reading level. This way they can follow along with the parent, yet they can also hear the model of how the parent is reading. The parent should stop at certain points during the story to “think aloud” about the story. They can “think aloud” about what a certain part of the story made them picture in their head (visualization), talk through a word they thought was challenging, mention what they have read so far in a retelling/discussion structure.
- Have the students turn outside activities into literacy activities. Write with chalk out on the sidewalk. (words they know, words they see, words they would like to know how to write, family names, shape words, color words, sight words). Get messy! Use shaving cream outside to do the same thing as chalk. This can go for working on math problems or math skills as well.
- If the kids want to have a lemonade stand, have them make signs where they need to write where their address, what is for sale, and how much it is. This will practice writing as well as math skills. Have them count all the money they made as well as make change!
- When going for long drives, have the kids read the environmental print that is outside all around them.
- Take pictures of fun family activities where they can make it into a story to print off and read. The parents can help type/write the words as the child dictates the story. The child will be successful reading the story even if there are difficult words in it because they were the ones to come up with them (this is called a language experience activity)
- Record your child reading familiar and favorite books on tape and play them in the car. They can read or follow along with themselves and listen to their own reading. Many times kids will love to hear themselves read and will even catch their own mistakes and improve upon their skills.
- If going on a picnic, make a list of things they will need to pack up. Have the child write down what they would like to take and read the list as they are checking things off.
Hope this helps….
Sound like great ideas to me. I know I’ll give them a try with both my boys. I’ll check in this summer and let you know how it’s going.
Check out our website to see what products Don Johnston has that might keep your child engaged in learning. Read:OutLoud and Start-to-Finish books are great to help our kids develop their language and literacy skills. You can also search the web for activities for your kids. Here are a few that Jack uses often:
www.starfall.com – Phonics instruction fun
www.tarheelreader.org – Interactive stories and free ebooks for beginning readers of all ages
www.preschoolexpress.com – Tons of free preschool resources
www.news-2-you.com – News-2-You is weekly news with photos that your child will understand. Games, too.
I put these in a PDF for you and added more sites that Jack’s teacher gave me. Just save it and then open the file and click the links to check them out.
Have a great summer and send me your ideas. I will try to post them on our website.
Here are some photos from our recent trip to Disney World. We had a great time!