ESY For Year-Round School- How Does it Work for Special Ed Kids

Special education students in a year-round school program doing schoolwork in the classroom.

Do you live in a community that offers year-round school to public school children? If so, you may initially feel like your child has an advantage over children who attend schools that follow a traditional school year. 

In addition, if you have a child with a disability, you might feel like the chance of your child losing skills over long breaks drops dramatically by attending a school with a year-round calendar, as opposed to only ESY

Is There an Advantage to Year-Round School? 

For some families, year-round school works well. For others, it looks good on paper yet, does not produce the anticipated results. 

The results of studies have shown that children who attend a year-round school are at a slight advantage over their peers who attend a school that follows a traditional calendar.

However, for children with learning disabilities or other disabilities, getting a complete view of year-round schooling can be a little more complex.

It depends on many variables such as:

  • School District
  • Educators
  • Each individual child
  • The Program

Special Education Law

The Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) says that all children deserve a “free and appropriate education” (FAPE) in the “least restrictive environment (LRE).” 

But, wait! There is more alphabet soup to be had. 

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A child with learning disabilities is entitled to an Individual Education Plan (IEP) under the IDEA. 

If your child qualifies for an IEP, you, the parent, are an equal partner on the IEP team, including teachers and other school professionals.

As a parent and as your child’s best advocate, it is your responsibility to know about special education law in general and as it works in your state. (Wrightslaw, a non-profit blog, is an excellent place to educate yourself.) 

It’s essential to familiarize yourself with Extended School Year (ESY) services, even if your child is going to school year-round. 

How Does Year-Round School Work?

The traditional school schedule started when the United States was primarily an agricultural economy. Children had summers off so that they could help on family farms. 

As our economy has changed, more and more people have advocated for updating the school calendar. 

However, the most common year-round school schedule does not change the 180-day school year – it simply breaks it into different parts. 

Kids attend school for 45 days and 15 days off in most year-round school programs. This is not just for special ed kids but for the whole school district.

Reasons for Year-Round Schooling

  1. It gives kids the breaks they need when they need them.
  2. Children retain information at a higher rate when their breaks from school are shorter and more regular.

What is Extended School Year?

If a child is at risk of regressing or losing knowledge gained during a break from school and has an IEP in place, that child qualifies for ESY. 

ESY offers services (speech, physical therapy, behavior, etc.) during breaks from school when that child is at risk of losing gains made during the school term. 

ESY refers to any break from school that allows enough time for your child to suffer a setback. It is not just for Summer break and it’s not summer school

What About ESY for Year-Round School?

What is your job if your child with a learning disability is in a year-round school situation? 

Again, your main job is to educate yourself and, if need be, educate your child’s IEP team about the national, state, and local laws that apply to special education.

You can find a lot of the needed information by accessing special education resources in your local area. 

Never assume that school personnel knows more about the law than you do. While they may be well-intentioned, they often get their facts from the grapevine rather than reliable sources.

The school district cannot determine which disabilities qualify for extended school year. Nor can they limit the dates of the resources they offer. 

However, most school districts have budget constraints that may leave you at loose ends to ensure your child’s learning continues seamlessly. 

Is the ESY Program in Your Year-Round School Right For Your Child?

It will be up to you to determine if your local school district’s ESY offerings will work for your child. 

If your school district approves ESY for your child, you are not obligated to accept it. Instead, learn more about your school district’s ESY program.

  • Will your child be sent to a new district (many districts share ESY responsibilities)?
  • Will your child handle new teachers or a new setting well?
  • Are there options you could pursue at home that might be just as helpful? (There are a lot of special education homeschool resources available for any parent, not just those who choose to homeschool.)
  • When does the school consider the start of the new year?

How to Get Your Special Education Child Help?

Sadly, despite the law, there is a good chance your child will not qualify for ESY. Or you may find your child qualifies one year and not the next. With that possibility looming, it’s good to have a backup plan.

If you feel that your child does regress over the breaks in year-round school, there are other options. We’ve covered those options thoroughly in ESY – Extended School Year For Special Education the Ultimate Guide.  

If going it alone feels beyond your limits, look into special education tutoring, particularly online special education tutoring. You can get personalized, affordable help that will keep your child’s skills up to level during breaks from school. In addition, you may learn some “tricks” that will help you help your child during regular school sessions.

Odds are your mom told you that life isn’t fair. It’s not. When you have a child with a learning disability, it’s your job to do what you can to make life fairer for your child. 

  • Learn the law. 
  • Get to know your school and the people you’ll be working with.
  • Then, learn to use outside resources to support what is going on in the school and help you with day-to-day life at home. 

It’s not fair. 

Nor is it easy. 

But, it’s your job now, and you have the resources to make sure your child gets the best education possible.



A classroom of special education students in a year-round school program doing schoolwork.
Is your child in a year-round school but still has regression during breaks? Here is what you need to know about ESY for Year Round School.

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Shannah Holt

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