Summer School Set-Up and Instruction

Summer school or Extended School Year (ESY) programming is almost here! It is that time of year to set up and design a plan for helping students maintain the skill levels they achieved throughout the regular school year. Here are some ideas that have been helpful for keeping students engaged.


How to set up an extended school year (ESY) or summer school program for special education students. Ideas for adding fun and engaging tasks to ensure students maintain their skill levels.
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In NY, our ESY (Extended School Year) program is approved only for students who have demonstrated significant regression during the regular school year. We have to prove regression and how long it took the student to recoup the skill(s) by submitting data. Luckily, we have TONS of data from our direct instruction centers. Once they are approved, it is my job to design the ESY program and set up my room. For ESY we move to a different building so all of the summer programs are together and students can still receive related services.


My students aren't really fans of being in school during the summer. They would much rather be playing and swimming... Me, too! So, it is my job to make the lessons more exciting and hands on. This is a great time to combine academics with motor movement, sensory and FUN! Here are some examples of fun lessons for summer program.


Engaging Summer Instruction Ideas:


We make musical instruments while practicing following step by step directions, requesting materials, oral motor strengthening and science.

How to set up an extended school year (ESY) or summer school program for special education students. Ideas for adding fun and engaging tasks to ensure students maintain their skill levels.



A HUGE favorite is the bowling center. You can practice adding or subtracting. For adding, we count the number of pins we knock over each time and then add those 2 numbers together. For subtraction, we count how many pins were knocked over and subtract that number from 10. If you have a bowling set with different colored pins, you can also work on color identification. Want to add sensory? Use a weighted ball for proprioceptive input!


How to set up an extended school year (ESY) or summer school program for special education students. Ideas for adding fun and engaging tasks to ensure students maintain their skill levels.


Add food into a lesson to make it even more motivating. For example, use popcorn when teaching about the five senses. Teach students how to make the food you are using in a lesson to incorporate life skills. Add in a language element by having students label what is going on, request materials and talk to friends.


How to set up an extended school year (ESY) or summer school program for special education students. Ideas for adding fun and engaging tasks to ensure students maintain their skill levels.



 Use different materials to give the same lessons and skills a novel feel. You can do SO much with colored straws! You can sort by color, graph them, sort by length etc. Another option is to use them to blow cotton balls across a table in a race with a peer.... great oral motor work!


How to set up an extended school year (ESY) or summer school program for special education students. Ideas for adding fun and engaging tasks to ensure students maintain their skill levels.


While all of the above lessons are fun, we continue to do the same 1 hour of direct instruction centers that we do all year. I find this especially helpful for my students who don't generalize and those who crave sameness and routines. By keeping some of our regular school year routines during summer programming, the students have an easier time readjusting in the fall. Win!

For direct instruction, language groups, task bins and centers we use our Summer Theme Unit materials.




We also use summer interactive books to practice language concepts, for independent reading and for task bins.




Don't forget to pin the image below to save this post and to share it with your teacher friends!

How to set up an extended school year (ESY) or summer school program for special education students. Ideas for adding fun and engaging tasks to ensure students maintain their skill levels.



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