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  • Bran Hicks M.Ed.

Preventing the Summer Slide: How ESY Services Can Help Your Child Thrive

Updated: Apr 30

Did you know that many students experience a significant decline in academic skills over the summer break? This phenomenon is known as the summer slide and can impact your child's learning. But don't worry; there are ways to prevent it, and ESY services can help.

The summer slide is a phenomenon that refers to the loss of academic skills and knowledge that students experience during the summer break. This can have a significant impact on their academic success in the long term. Research shows that students can lose up to two months of reading and math skills over the summer. The summer slide can lead to a widening achievement gap between students who have access to academic resources over the summer and those who do not. Therefore, addressing the summer slide is crucial to ensuring that all students have the opportunity to achieve academic success.

In this article, we will provide an overview of the summer slide, including its causes and impact on students. We will also offer strategies for preventing the summer slide and highlight the benefits of utilizing Extended School Year (ESY) services to support students at risk of the summer slide.

What is the Summer Slide?

The summer slide is the result of the lack of academic engagement and structured learning opportunities that students experience during the summer break. It is caused by the absence of regular classroom instruction and the opportunity to practice and reinforce skills. Students who experience the summer slide can lose up to two months of reading and math skills, which can have a significant impact on their academic success in the long term.

The summer slide is a prevalent issue in education, and research shows that it affects students of all ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Studies also show that the effects of the summer slide are cumulative, meaning that each year of academic loss makes it harder for students to catch up and keep pace with their peers.

Why is the Summer Slide a Concern for Parents and Educators?

The summer slide is a concern for parents and educators because it can impact a student's academic success. The lack of access to academic resources and structured learning opportunities over the summer can lead to a widening achievement gap between students with access to these resources and those without access.

The summer slide can also lead to a loss of motivation and confidence in students. When students return to school in the fall and find that they have fallen behind their peers, they may feel discouraged and disengaged from the learning process.

Parents and educators are responsible for addressing the summer slide and providing students with the support they need to maintain and improve their academic skills over the summer break.

Strategies for Preventing the Summer Slide

There are several strategies that parents and educators can use to prevent the summer slide. One effective strategy is to encourage students to read regularly over the summer break. Research shows that reading for just 20 minutes a day can significantly impact a student's literacy skills.

Another strategy is to incorporate academic activities into the summer routine. This can include math games, science experiments, and writing exercises. Providing students with structured learning opportunities can help them retain and reinforce academic skills over the summer.

Summer learning programs are also an effective way to prevent the summer slide. These programs provide students with access to academic resources and structured learning opportunities. They can also allow students to develop new skills and interests.

How Can ESY Services Help Prevent the Summer Slide?

Extended School Year (ESY) services effectively support students at risk of the summer slide. ESY services provide academic support and enrichment activities during the summer break. These services can include academic tutoring, enrichment programs, and educational field trips.

ESY services can help students maintain and improve their academic skills over the summer. They can also allow students to develop new skills and interests. Research shows that ESY services can significantly impact student achievement and help close the achievement gap between students.

What are Extended School Year (ESY) Services?

Extended School Year (ESY) services are special education services for eligible students during the summer months. ESY services help students with disabilities maintain and improve their academic skills and progress toward their individualized education program (IEP) goals.

ESY services are offered to eligible students who require ongoing, individualized instruction or support services during the summer months to prevent substantial regression of skills or knowledge. These services can include academic tutoring, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioral support. ESY services can be provided in various settings, including schools, community centers, and private facilities.

ESY services are typically provided at no cost to eligible students and are funded by the school district. Eligibility for ESY services is determined by the student's IEP team, which includes the student's parents or guardians, teachers, and other relevant professionals.

ESY services can effectively prevent the summer slide and support students with disabilities in achieving academic success. By providing individualized instruction and support services during the summer, ESY services can help students maintain and improve their academic skills, progress toward their IEP goals, and prepare for the upcoming school year.

The Benefits of ESY Services for Students with IEPs

ESY services can also help with communication, problem-solving, self-care skills, and behavior modification. When educators decide whether or not a student should receive ESY services, they consider many factors such as the student’s current levels of performance, their rate of progress on specific goals, regression/recoupment patterns related to extended breaks from school, environmental factors that may influence learning, and family preferences for their child’s education.

How ESY Services Are Decided and Implemented

The IEP team works together to develop an appropriate plan for each student that meets their specific needs and prepares them for success in their educational setting. Teachers can work collaboratively with families to ensure students get the best educational experience possible by discussing the importance of these specialized supports with parents and outlining objectives that will be addressed through ESY service delivery.

Discussing ESY Services with Families: Tips for Teachers and Parents

When discussing ESY services with parents, it’s important to emphasize the benefits and explain how they will benefit their child. Starting the conversation by outlining specific objectives is a great way to begin. Remember that parents may be hesitant to have their child in more schooling during the summer months, so it is important to give them all of the facts and outline all of the benefits of the extended services.

Teachers can ensure that both parties understand the program and its implications by covering all the important points. This ensures that the extended school year programs run smoothly and provide an optimal learning experience for each student. Let's work together to ensure our students receive the best support possible!

General contacts you can reach out to for information on setting up ESY services:

  1. Your child's school district special education department

  2. Your child's teacher or case manager

  3. Local disability advocacy organizations

  4. State Department of Education's special education division

  5. Regional education service centers or educational cooperatives

  6. Non-profit organizations that support families with disabilities

  7. Local mental health centers that provide services for children with disabilities

  8. School-based therapists, such as speech-language pathologists or occupational therapists.

  9. Your child's IEP team

  10. Other parents of children with disabilities in your community who may have experience with ESY services.

Thank you so much for taking the time to learn about Extended School Year (ESY) services with me. As a teacher, I have seen firsthand how helpful ESY services can be for students with an IEP. I hope the information I've provided will help you understand the benefits of ESY services and how they can support your child's academic and social-emotional development. Teachers and parents can work together to ensure every child receives the best possible educational experience. Best of luck!


Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Extended School Year (ESY) services must be made available to eligible students with disabilities if their IEP team determines that such services are necessary for the provision of FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education).


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