The end of the school year is coming faster than you think! While it’s OK to rejoice at the prospect of summer break, it’s worth your effort to help your special needs child finish the school year strong.
Make sure you end the year as a celebration of accomplishments rather than a party celebrating a release from prison. This will help get back into a routine next fall less painful.
6 Simple Hacks to Finish the School Year Successfully
#1 Check Their Supplies
Back-to-school supplies are typically only thought of in the fall. By the time May comes around, supplies are sparse or non-existent. Double-check to ensure your child has what they need to end the year successfully. Things like:
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- Full-sized pencils
- A backpack that zips with no holes
- Lunch money
- Tissues (allergy season in full swing!)
#2 Start a Countdown
Use scrapbook or construction paper to make a simple paper link chain – one link for each remaining day until summer break. You can include weekends and holidays to keep it simple.
At the end of the day, tear a link from the chain. The chain serves as a strong visual reminder for the entire family. Of course, the shorter it gets, the more exciting it is to tear off a link!
#3 End of Year Review
No doubt your child has made a lot of progress over the school year. You should celebrate that! Set up an end-of-the-year party to celebrate that progress.
End of Year Party
It can be a family party or a multi-family party of close friends with…
- Fun certificates
- Slideshow of pictures
- Food (especially a cake)
If you don’t want to do a party, you can start a memory book or binder. Write up a list of achievements and special memories from the school year and upcoming years.
What to Include in a School Memories Book?
Include both obvious AND crazy things like:
- Learned to tie shoes
- Set family record for unloading the dishwasher
- Grew four inches in two months
- Mastered multiplication tables
- Happily ate peanut butter/banana sandwiches for 180 school days
- First day of school photo versus last day of school photo (Here’s some photo ideas)
Make it fun and memorable. And, make a point to store those memories – you’ll want them as your child approaches high school graduation!
#4 Plan to Keep Learning Throughout the Summer
Maybe your child has a learning disability or struggles in one particular area. Take advantage of the summer months to plan fun activities that reinforce or bolster their skills.
Start with a quick internet search for special education resources and special education homeschool resources. You will find plenty of ideas to make summer learning fun -whether your child falls into the special education designation or not.
Sign up for the summer reading program at your local library. They usually have programs, prizes, and tons of fun getting your child to read over the summer.
If you are not confident in your abilities to help your child, look into special needs tutoring. You’ll find abundant resources to help your child:
- Maintain skills
- Build upon skills
- Remedial learning
Special education tutoring can significantly impact children, especially if used as part of an ESY (extended school year) program. Involve your child in the planning process. Set some goals with specific, fun rewards for each goal met to keep learning fun.
#5 Talk to Your Child’s Teacher(s)
Ask your child’s teacher if they would be willing to write a letter to your child. For example, they could outline the great things about the past year and what they hope your child will achieve in the years to come.
Start a folder or a scrapbook to save each letter if you do this.
Also, if you can, thank the teacher(s) with an appropriate gift card to acknowledge their above and beyond effort to help your child. If a gift card is not in your budget, you can write a handwritten note. The teacher will appreciate it!
#6 Stick to a Routine
Special needs children thrive on routine! So try your best to keep your child on the same schedule. It will remind them to stay on task and finish the school year strong.
Celebrate the year your child just finished. Avoid demonizing the year ahead. Instead, embrace the summer break and do your best to keep the learning going through the summer.
Here are some resources to help you look to the new school year and still have a fun summer break:
- ESY – Extended School Year For Special Education the Ultimate Guide
- What are the Benefits of Summer School For Special Education Students?
- Fun Educational Sand Activities to Do At the Beach This Summer
- Best Ways to Avoid the Dreaded Summer Slide and Stop Learning Loss