The Importance of Summer Speech Therapy for Children
Summer is historically a time during which students tend to lose academic ground. This is especially true for low income students and those with learning disabilities. It’s unfortunate, because these students are typically the most in need of continued services in order keep up with their goals and what they’ve learned. Luckily, there are several ways to keep students on track during the summer months.
Summer Learning Loss
The National Summer Learning Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the achievement gap between students by offering parents, students, and communities summer learning opportunities and resources. According to available data, students lose between one and three months of the learning gains they made over the course of the school year during their summer vacations. The higher rates of loss are most often correlated to low socioeconomic factors. However, the risk also appears to be elevated by those students who have communication disorders or learning disabilities.
The reason for the academic loss is the same for most students – a lack of access to educational materials with which to practice and retain their skills. The gap in learning loss is greater for those who have access to fewer resources. In regards to income, this can mean less time to go to summer enrichment programs and reduced access to books and learning tools which are otherwise available during the school year. For students with learning disabilities the problem is similar. They find themselves without the support network put in place by many schools that gives them the additional tools they need to achieve their academic goals.
Designing Summer Speech Therapy Sessions
Many of the students who are receiving speech therapy within a school setting will be forced to retain the services of a private speech therapist when school is not in session. This can be cost-prohibitive for many parents on an individual basis.
One solution is to offer group sessions similar to what many students have access to during the school year. This gives the students the opportunity to work on their specific speech goals while engaging with peers in their age group. Many group sessions are experienced as play and become something to look forward to.
Therapists could also inquire about partnering with their local schools to offer summer programs or to provide educational resources and ideas to the parents of targeted students. Making Summer Count outlines several methods and recommendations for limiting summer learning loss.
While summer is often a time where learning losses are experienced by children, speech therapists have the opportunity to turn this time into a functional learning experience. Individual sessions, frequent group sessions, or partnering with local schools are all excellent ways for students to make meaningful connections with speech therapists and protect the learning gains they have made.