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Special School District of St. Louis County
 
Learning Opportunities
Heat Up This Summer

Although the average school year only lasts about nine and a half months, that doesn’t mean that learning has to grind to a halt when the final school bell ushers in the summer season. Many parents today recognize that learning is a year-round affair, and while summertime learning opportunities are often very different from those found in the classroom, they can be just as profound.

“Learning never stops for students – or adults for that matter,” said Michelle Levi Perez, an administrator in SSD's Parent Education and Diversity Awareness Program. “Summer is a great time for kids to make connections between the curriculum and everyday life. Whether it’s in a museum or while on a walk in nature, learning opportunities are everywhere.”

Family vacations present kids with plenty of learning opportunities, providing lessons on everything from foreign languages and cultures to geography and history.

Yet Levi Perez pointed out that students don’t even need to leave the home for learning to occur. “Summer is a great time to build literacy skills. Take time to read to your young children and to encourage independent reading,” she said. “We know that reading increases vocabulary and a better vocabulary can improve comprehension. There’s really nothing more important to your child’s educational success.”

But Levi Perez also said that summer learning opportunities can be found in less obvious places. “Even television, videos and DVDs can teach our kids wonderful things – so long as we choose the right programs,” she said. “There are a lot of films that teach about everything from science to history in a way that is fun and entertaining.”

For parents interested in finding more structured educational opportunities for their children this summer, countless local summer camps cover subjects ranging from math and science to drama and music. Levi Perez also pointed out that most of the summer camps offered by local municipalities will provide additional supports for students with disabilities. “In addition to the educational component, these camps offer students with disabilities a great opportunity to be with other children in a social setting,” she said.

The Recreation Council of Greater St. Louis is a valuable resource for information about camps that include kids with disabilities. The Recreation Council offers financial support for overnight camps and for recreation supports for qualifying individuals.

Many parents also hire tutors during the summer to help their children to both retain skills and learn new ones. The YMCA’s Y-Read Program provides literacy tutors to academically at-risk students at no cost.

When determining what kinds of summer learning activities are best for a child, Levi Perez recommended that families look to the future. “I like to find out what a child is going to be studying next year and then build some activities around that,” she said. “Best practices show that learning is most effective when connected to prior knowledge, so if you know that your child is going to study early American history in the fall, summer can be a great time to plant those seeds.”

More than anything, Levi Perez advised parents to simply remain open and responsive to learning opportunities when they arise. “Sometimes situations just present themselves,” she said. “If there’s a lesson there to be learned by our children, it’s worth our time and effort to help them grow. That’s true in the summertime and throughout the year.”

children hiking in the woods

Looking for
More Resources?

  • SSD’s Family and Community Resource Center publishes a resource guide about summer educational opportunities. To request a copy of the 2015 Summer Resource packet, contact Rachel Myers at 314.989.8431 or via email at rdmyers@ssdmo.org.

    Click here to download a copy of the packet.

  • To download a copy of the Recreation Council's Summer Opportunities Guide, click here.

Don't Forget About Having Fun!

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12110 Clayton Rd, Town & Country, MO 63131  /  314.989.8100  /  314.989.8552 – 711 (Missouri Relay)

Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) is a leader in providing special education services to students with disabilities and also provides a wide range of career and technical education programs.
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