The end of the school year in the USA brings summer fun and… summer school. Summer school was something regularly recommended for my two dyslexic children by the public school system. It was written into their IEPs (Individualized Education Plan) and invitations to attend were sent as the school year ended. Summer school was proposed so they would retain skills learned during the school year that could be lost during the long ten-week summer vacation.
I had not encountered this phenomenon across the pond in England, probably because there the school year is nearly a month longer. However, now we have personal experience of summer school and that is what I relate here.
Some years my children have participated in public school summer programs and other years they have not. I cannot recall noticing any particular difference in their abilities between the years they did attend compared with the years they did not attend summer school.
They have also participated in summer programs that have offered intensive remediation. These have been beneficial, although they are also expensive. For instance, one summer my daughter completed 40 hours of the Lindamood-Bell (LiPs) program. Following this I noticed a definite improvement in her reading. More information on this experience can be found in my blog post Reading Methods for Dyslexia.
The drawback is that my dyslexic children do not have fond memories of their summer school experiences. In the words of my daughter, “I wanted to be outside like regular kids, instead of being treated like an idiot.”
I find it unfortunate that students with dyslexia have to spend more time within an education system in which they find themselves at odds, and already struggle. Summer school seems to reinforce their inability to progress effectively within the regular education system. They spend extra time working on aspects of their education – reading, writing and sometimes math – in which they are never truly going to excel. Added to this self-esteem, probably already diminished in a child with dyslexia, runs the risk of being further diminished. After all, other students usually have the summer off. So, for the last few summers, summer school has not been on our calendar!