The term ‘summer slide’ refers to the decrease in skills related to the summer months when school is no longer in session. Typically, it is in reference to academic skills’ however, many of us see it in speech too. How many times have you had a student or more make HUGE gains during the school year, leave for summer, and return with reduced skills. It is like one step forward and three back, am I right? It is often frustrating for the student, us, the teacher, and the parents!
To address this concern many of us send home packets of ‘homework’ for the students to complete during summer. The next issue we face is the typical lack of ‘buy-in’ from students and parents. Let’s be real for a moment. Summer is a time to refresh our spirits and enjoy time with family and friends (I’m a big kid so I am with the students and parents about this one). Have I sent home homework packets? Yes! Have I found homework packets helpful for the families that follow through? Yes! Do I find that most of my families follow through? No! Do I want my speech sound students practicing their sounds incorrectly all summer long? No!
SO WHAT SHOULD WE RECOMMEND TO OUR PARENTS?
GO TO THE LIBRARY
Yes, I recommend this to the families of my littlest buddies all the way up to the families of my older students. My little preschool and lower elementary students can typically find storytime at their local library to enjoy as well as new books to check out. Students with speech sound disorders can find books that are loaded with the speech sounds that they have the most difficulty with and parents can read it for auditory bombardment or the older students can check out books that interest them and practice reading aloud while practicing self-monitoring and self-correction for their speech production. Fluency students can practice using their fluency strategies while reading aloud (and enjoy a good book too) while our language students can work on prediction, answering and asking wh-questions, sentence formulation, sequencing, inferencing, definitions, and semantic features.
ENGAGE IN FAMILY FUN TIME
Some engaging activities I suggest include completing arts and craft activities, science experiments, cooking and baking, and playing board games together as a family. There are a lot of opportunities to strengthen speech and language skills while engaging in these sort of activities together as a family! Plus, they are fun and can lead to open discussions and fun family memories.
ENJOY PLANNED ‘TALKING TIME’ AS A FAMILY
Days go by too quickly. Parents work and kids spend time with friends. Before you know it, the day is done. I get it as I am a parent of a 9-year old that would rather chit chat with friends than to share her secrets with her mommy. This is why I suggest to parents to PLAN some time to sit down and just talk! Communication is about the message that is being presented and if the student is constantly corrected then they may decide that continuing to communicate or initiate communication doesn’t have a big enough pay off for them. That is why the planned talking time is a time for parents to remind the child at the start to practice their skills using self-monitoring and self-correction once and after that, the parent serves as a model for good speech and language skills. The parent isn’t supposed to point out the errors but to focus on the message so that the child can feel ‘heard’ and encouraged to continue communicating.
I want my students to return from the summer refreshed with a lot of wonderful family experiences that they can communicate about and share with me. I send the same three-page letter home with all of my students. The handout shares the information that I did above but it also goes into detail on different ways to build speech and language skills within these activities.
If you would like your own copy of my end of year letter to print out and send home with your parents, let me know below.