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ESY For Self-Contained Classrooms

In the muddle of letters and abbreviations commonly tossed about in the world of special education, it can be easy to lose sight of the goal – helping every child receive the best education possible. As a parent, it can be easy to feel lost in the shuffle as you negotiate your way through the public school system. Understanding the law as it applies nationally and locally will help you to understand your rights and your child’s rights. Two special education issues that can be difficult for parents are “self-contained classrooms” and “extended school year” or ESY. Educating yourself about special education laws will help you to ensure that your child gets all the benefits and services they are entitled to.

Pro’s
  • If you have witnessed dramatic regression in your child’s studies, behavior or in areas where therapy is required, a strong extended school year program may help your child retain skills. It is important to find out what specific type of program is offered in terms of location, duration, content and instruction.
  • ESY can offer a summer routine that many children with disabilities thrive on.
  • ESY is free.
  • ESY offers a chance for your child to focus on those things without the usual distractions.
  • ESY provides a structured way for children to interact with their peers throughout the summer.
Con’s
  • In school districts that are not well-funded, ESY programs can be weak and poorly staffed. As a result, children can come away from such programs further behind than when they started.
  • Consider how your child handles change. It is rare for a child to get their regular teacher during ESY. Additionally, it is common practice for school districts to band together and combine their ESY programs. The could spell out additional travel and a new environment.
  • Keep in mind that the extended school year is a maintenance program with limited scope. It focuses solely on one or two specific goals laid out in your child’s IEP. ESY is not designed to help your child reach their full potential or to get ahead.

If, doing your own research, you are certain that ESY is right for your child, start talking about it with your child’s IEP team as early in the school year as possible. Even in school districts with healthy budget, spots in the ESY program can be difficult to procure. Specifically ask your child’s teachers to document any regression they see after both short and long breaks. You should do so at home as well. For more details and specific case law that might help you get the extended school year added to your child’s IEP, search through Wright’s Law blog. You’ll find clear explanations and concrete examples. Keep in mind that ESY is a year-by-year program. You will have to repeat this process, starting at the beginning of the school year, every year.

If you are still unsure about ESY, there are other things to consider. Depending on your child’s needs, it might be worthwhile exploring special education homeschool resources. Homeschool blogs and websites and offer a variety of tips for teaching/reinforcing information at home in a cost-effective way. Look in your area for local homeschool groups – many are happy to have a new family join them during the summers for park days, co-ops and other activities.

If you are not confident in your ability to “homeschool” during extended breaks, you might also consider special needs tutoring. Using a tutor offers an affordable, individualized way to keep your child’s skills up during extended breaks from school. Additionally, with the technology boom of the past decade, it’s now easier than ever to find the perfect tutor for your child. The internet allows children to tutor from the comfort of their own home without needing to bring strangers into the house. Find out more about online special education tutoring by discussing your exact needs with a special education expert (Free Consultation).

Lastly, remember that the extended school year is a voluntary program. Even if the program is written into your child’s IEP, the ultimate decision is yours. You know your child best. Sometimes a kid just needs a break and that’s just fine. As you do your own research and get to know your child’s elementary school IEP team, you will know what is right for your child for that year.