Monday, June 26, 2017

How to Support Your Child’s IEP Goals Over the Summer

If your child has an IEP, but not able to or eligible to attend a summer learning program, you might feel nervous about how they will maintain progress made during the school year. You can help reinforce their goals at home. Here’s how: 

Review the IEP
The first step in preparing a summer learning plan is to re-read your child’s IEP. Be aware that some goals are designed to be worked on at school, therefore not all of your child's goals can be worked on at home.

Identify Summer-Friendly Goals
When your child’s IEP team creates goals, its focus is on skills to help your child succeed in school.
For example, your child’s IEP may say, “Will increase reading accuracy and fluency to a first-grade level." School may use a specialized reading program, but it is likely you are not trained to use that program. Instead, ask the teaching staff if there are books you can practice with at home or an appropriate summer reading list. 

Your child may also have goals that are not strictly academic. They may be working on social-emotional skills or functional goals. For example, one of her goals might be, “Will identify and manage feelings (anxiety, stress) on a daily basis." You can support this goal by following your child's behavior intervention plan. It will have a description of how the teachers worked with them at school on this goal. You can use the same approach.

Skills You Can Work On
Your child’s IEP can help remind you of the bigger goals they are working toward. In many cases, it may make sense to focus on specific steps toward those goals. Think of each goal as sitting at the top of a ladder. There are many rungs your child has to climb to get there. Each rung is a skill they need to learn to get to the next one. 

Sometimes an IEP plan can break goals into smaller steps or skills already. If your child’s plan does not, check their progress report or ask the teacher to help you list the skills that make up each goal.

Plan Your Summer Program
As you start getting ready for summer, make sure you get the support you and your child need. Here are some guidelines: 

Meet with your child’s teacher and service providers a few weeks before the end of the school year. They can help you get a sense of the current skill level and which skills are most important to work on over the summer.

Share goals with summer programs. If your child will be attending camp or summer school, take time to meet with the director before the program begins. Share the goals you are working on. Ask what opportunities your child might have to practice those skills and how they might be able to help provide support. 

Be realistic about what you can accomplish. Tackling too much can be counterproductive. Make a list of the top things you want to work on over the summer. And be specific. 

Find creative ways to work on skills. You can support your child’s learning in all sorts of ways. Take a field trip to a local science museum. Help practice fractions and measurement while you cook together. You can even work on social skills and money management by having them order and pay at a restaurant. 

Don't forget to schedule down time and have fun!  

Post by Isa Salvador, LCSW, IMH-E III, CCYT