With summer approaching and the school year ending, some parents may be wondering how to help their child retain what they learned throughout the school year. According to Quinn and Polikoff of Brookings education, even for students who are neurotypical, schools have mixed reviews but confirm that children typically lose some skills over a summer vacation, however the numbers vary based on the location. (Polikoff, David M. Quinn and Morgan 2017) Here are several approaches in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis that can aid in maintaining skills your child has gained through the course of the academic year:
- Have a list of mastered skills you want to retain: Contact the teacher or therapy providers and ask them what skills your child has mastered. Create a list of the skills so you know what you can practice throughout the summer.
- Record when you practice the skills: Date when you practice the mastered skills and report if they did the skill independently or not so you know what you need to work on more often (the skills they needed help with) so they can continue to maintain those skills.
- Reinforcement is key: It is ok to use a variety of reinforcement that your child responds to and fading out consistent reinforcement for a skill. However, for your child to maintain some skills they still need to be praised and provided tangible rewards.
- Fading reinforcement: Once your child masters a skill, it’s appropriate to begin giving them reinforcement less often. For instance: going from reinforcing on every instance, to every other instance of the skill.
- Catch your child using the skills naturally: Socially praise and provide high rewards when you catch your child using skills in the natural environment that you have been working on during the summer to maintain their skills.
While it may seem daunting, especially as your child gains more skills, having a way to maintain skills and check up on your child’s progress is vital to their learning process and success. Using the points above will help you gain insight into your child’s education and grow your relationship in a way where they know you have an invested interest in their development.
Polikoff, David M. Quinn and Morgan. “Summer Learning Loss: What Is It, and What Can We Do about It?” Brookings, 14 Sept. 2017, www.brookings.edu/research/summer-learning-lo. Accessed 6 May 2022.