I am often asked whether I recommend students take the summer off from tutoring. In fact, I recommend quite the opposite. Increasing the amount of time spent on tutoring during a time of more flexible schedules is an excellent opportunity for students to make some real catch-up growth. Typical students without learning difficulties have some summer learning loss. For students with dyslexia and other learning challenges, that learning loss can be much more significant and problematic. It is vital that they maintain their hard-won gains and continue to move forward. By continuing tutoring over the summer, students can start the school year ahead of where they ended. Since their peers will have some learning loss and some time at the beginning of the year is spent on review, this is a precious opportunity to narrow or even close the learning gap.
To learn more about appropriate summer practice for your children with learning challenges, listen to season 1, episode 17 of the Together in Literacy podcast: Finish the School Year Strong!
But summer tutoring doesn’t need to mean business as usual, and it doesn’t need to be just like schoolwork.
Here are my top 5 tips for making Orton-Gillingham summer tutoring fun, exciting, and engaging:
Tip One: Gather supplies and games to repurpose that your students will enjoy in the summer.
This doesn’t need to be an expensive proposition. Yard sales or thrift stores can be great sources for games that can easily be adapted to become learning games. Simply adding word cards can turn almost any game into an educational one.
Tip Two: Consider having sessions outside.
If it is too beautiful to be having class inside, take it outdoors. Ring toss, throwing frisbees, and water balloons are all special outdoor games that could easily be adapted to reading practice. Be sure that you are aware of any allergies your student may have, such as bee stings. Also, ensure students are prepared for outside time with sunscreen and bug spray. Don’t forget the sunscreen and floppy hat for yourself.
Look for more ideas for taking your lessons outside? Read Simple Outdoor Literacy Activities to Boost Skills Over the Summer.
Tip Three: Build in Breaks to your lessons.
Make summer learning a little more relaxed than school-year lessons by incorporating more games, movement breaks, and an opportunity for students to share some of their summer adventures. Remember, oral language practice is valuable for our students.
Tip Four: Play games that have a summer theme or incorporate movement.
Taking advantage of summer themes such as beaches, swimming, sandcastles, and vacations can put a fun summer spin on learning. These can be print and play games or games you make yourself. The only limit is your imagination. You can even extend the theme to the entire lesson. Show up in beach attire and have your lesson on beach towels. Use a pool noodle as a giant pointer or dig into the sandbox to build words and letters.
Tip Five: Incorporate summer incentives that you don’t usually have during the school year.
Going the extra mile to make learning fun in the summer will bring extra smiles and extra learning. Popsicles on a hot day, reading outside, and extra game time are great ways to sweeten the deal of summer tutoring. A menu of choices either for activities or rewards can further support student buy-in and motivation.
Bonus Tip: Try Reader’s Theater
In my Phonics-Based Reader’s Theater Scripts, I have written a Reader’s Theater that I think your students will love. They are the perfect reading fluency supplement while your students are practicing their phonics skills AND a great way to make reading fun this summer.
Each play focuses on one reading and spelling generalization at a time. Topics of the plays include traditional folktales and fictional stories. There are 12 reader’s theater phonics scripts in all!
Summer tutoring doesn’t have to be a chore, but it is extremely important. So, when parents ask about giving their child a break, encourage them instead to try out these ideas for some summer tutoring fun!
To learn more creative ways to incorporate summer tutoring fun into your lessons, sign up for Building Readers for Life Academy. Both educators and families are welcome!
Building Readers for Life Academy is a monthly membership program that empowers educators AND families by diving into structured literacy and strategies for ALL learners. With BRFL Academy, you’ll learn what it takes to help EVERY student become a reader for life.