Summer Prep for your Reading Intervention

Yes – the snow is just melting, and we haven’t seen more than a handful of robins, but it’s time to start thinking about our summer plans for our dyslexic students. You may be thinking, “Seriously??? I haven’t even gotten this kid through the school year and your pressuring me to think of the NEXT season’s gameplan?”. Yes, yes – I am. Because if you don’t plan it out, you will be having at least one of several different issues.

A. You won’t be able to get the time you hope for with your reading coach. Then, you’ll be scrambling to fit it in between hockey, soccer, drama camp, Scouts and every other thing under the sun we try to fit into the few months of decent weather we have in Minnesota.

B. If you are doing it yourself, you won’t actually put it in the schedule along with the activities mentioned above. The good intentions will melt like popsicles in July and when September comes around you think to yourself – “Where did the time go?”

C. You won’t have the proper responses planned when your kiddo starts the “WHY do I have to work on reading this summer – it’s my BREAK – I deserve time off, I HATE this, it’s not fair, you’re SO mean, you’re ruining my LIFE…etc.” and you’ll cave. Be honest, we all do. 

So, in order to save yourself the September Blues when both you and your learner start to panic because you didn’t do what you planned over the summer…

1. Make your plan – with some student input. Note, I said SOME student input because letting them decide if they want to work or not will end badly. However, you can ask them their input on something they CAN control. Kinda like when we asked our toddlers if they wanted their blanket or their bear with them for their nap? The nap was nonnegotiable, but the lovey of choice was flexible. 

I remember when my youngest asked for his Barton time at 7:00 AM. I think at that point in my life, I was drinking the entire pot of coffee before breakfast to keep myself on track, but Zack was a morning person. And he knew that he would have my undivided attention because everyone else was asleep and…he was finished by 8:00 and had his whole day free of Barton expectations…which he could lord over his three siblings. It was a win-win in his book and so I had complete compliance from him those summers. 

2. Consider increasing your intervention time during the summer. I know, I know – now YOU are whining, “Lori – it’s my BREAK – I deserve time off, I HATE this, it’s not fair, you’re SO mean, you’re ruining my life…” Okay, I get it. None of us wants to fill the summer with hard things. BUT, doing hard things is how we are going to help our kids to be happy successful adults who have real jobs and actually move out of our basement! If you want to indulge somebody, either wait for grandchildren who you can sugar up and send home at the end of the day or look at #3. 

Seriously folks, summer is a great time to jump in with both feet and make huge gains in the intervention department because you don’t have school taking over five days a week with homework and stress that leaves your child exhausted and emotionally depleted. When we can give extra time during the summer, we see even greater progress and it goes a long way in controlling the anxiety we nearly always see rear its ugly head in August (or in Zack’s case) July 4th.

3. The rule of thumb is; for every hour of intervention time, another hour should be spent focusing on your child’s interests or strengths. This is where summertime is WONDERFUL because of all the options! There are opportunities for all kinds of classes and camps for sports, art, drama – even cooking! There are playdates and overnights, vacations and parades, campfires and family. Hmmm – perhaps it WAS a really long winter…

What I’m trying to say is, use those times as the wonderful break they can be for your learner. Let them know what you see as their talents and allow the time to explore. If drawing is your daughter’s current passion – then buy the cool art supplies and let her go at it but, COUNT that time and use it as an incentive. Your son wants the neighborhood over for a bonfire – tell him how many hours of reading coaching it will take to earn it. 

Let’s face it, we all work for different things; vacations, a visit with a friend, new (fill in the blank here). Me, I’m a shoe person. I’ll admit it – the 6PM website and I have a very healthy relationship. But I make myself work for my shoe addiction – made a personal goal? get to buy the cute tennis shoes to keep me on track.  New riding boots? This is going to be tougher…I will have to repaint all the windows, and outer doors this summer to be able to celebrate with those buggers, no matter what kind of deal I find. BUT, there is a deep sense of satisfaction when we make a goal and earn the reward.

As a Barton coach, I hand out points for work done that the students can cash in for prizes. They are constantly checking their progress each week and are really proud when they can take their new treasure home. Use that. Zack used to work 100 points for, get this, a NO Barton day. Seemed a little counterproductive at first but, he busted his butt for a month for those points and I got to sleep in that day – see? Win-win!

So, to sum it up – MAKING a summer plan and then WORKING your summer plan will produce great results. Your student will have made solid reading gains and feel more confident when school rolls around. You will have accomplished your goal as well and moved your student one step closer to that successful, happy adult you dream of.

Just my two cents,

Lori – Reading Resources

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