My younger kiddos know that when summer rolls around, public school is out. They also know that we still have school at home over the summer.
Because of Ben’s autism, I just cannot let three months go by with no type of education. Losing a quarter of a year is too much time to lose. He does not qualify for traditional summer school because they feel that there is no chance of “regression over the summer”, so it is up to me to keep the ball rolling.
In order to come up with a plan, I go thru his IEP and make a list of goals the teachers have for him. Then I look at a special chart I was given that shows what a child should be able to do by certain age groups (like tying shoes, zipping up a coat, helping set the table, taking a bath by themselves, etc – personal care skills and social skills). So I end up with a master list of goals to work on.
This summer we are also doing sight-word flash cards (I got a list of these from the internet by searching “first grade sight words”). We also have a handwriting sheet that has all of the alphabet letters in upper and lower case and the sheet of paper is laminated so he can use a dry erase marker on it and it is reusable.
An important goal we are working on is having Ben memorize our phone number. I know that once I get it in there, he will remember it! One fun thing I do to sharpen his memory is I will spray shaving cream all over our dining room table (it is glass topped) or on our tile floor. We spread the shaving cream out and “write” our phone number or sight words or whatever, in the shaving cream. He loves this and always has fun making a mess! Shelby enjoys this too (but she won’t admit it 😉
I play a lot of board games with the kiddos . This helps keep skills sharp and encourages them to use new ones. This summer we have played Uno Stack, Twister, Operation, I Spy, and some other new ones too. I get the games at thrift stores for about $3 or less each. I always make sure to check for all the pieces before I buy them. One recent trip, I drove the lady at the cash register crazy because I insisted on checking to make sure all 60 pieces were there to a wooden Melissa and Doug dinosaur puzzle. Who wants a puzzle that is missing a piece????
Shelby is neuro-typical (not disabled). She plays the games with us, but I have her do extra reading over the summer as well as practice her times tables. There is always something for her to be brushing up on. Extra practice never hurts!
Obviously I balance out all this “work” with fun times too. One day a week is water day. We go to the public pool, bodysurfing at the beach, tubing at the springs or to the local lake to go swimming. Sometimes we go to the library and it always seems the kiddos meet up with some of their friends there (or in Ben’s case, make some new friends over in the video game area!). Several times each week we go to Blockbuster so they can trade in their “Camp Wannawatchamovie” movies for new ones (Blockbuster is running a plan that is about $5 per month for one family movie out at a time or $10 for two out at a time, plus the kiddos got free Disney mini-backpacks!) . Of course we go bowling with the “Kids Bowl Free” program I mentioned in an earlier post (you can use the search box on the right to find it if you haven’t read it yet). Then there is always the “dollar theatre” where movies are 75 cents per person to get in on Tuesdays.
I would say that all the extra practice takes maybe an hour out of our day. It goes by a lot faster than you would think! It is nice to be able to spend quality time with my kiddos and to know that I am helping them get a head start on the next school year too! The fact that we always follow it up with something fun, encourages them to get it done 😉