Summer Holiday Activities for Children with SENs

Alicia Lloyd, SENDCo at CIS looks at some fun ways to support children over the summer holidays.

The summer holidays are upon us and it’s time for some well-deserved relaxation. Your children have enjoyed a huge amount of learning this year and they have had a lot of fun doing it, but the daily routine of early mornings and long days will have taken their toll and they will certainly need time and space to just ‘be’ over the next few weeks. Routine is good for children but it is also great to have a break from the routine and to spend time doing other things. As parents, we always worry that our children will stagnate or even regress over the holidays and experience the ‘brain drain’ or the ‘summer slide’ as it has variously become known. To a certain extent this is inevitable, and school is set up to accommodate the natural slip which occurs over the holidays.

However, 8 weeks is a long time and parents often ask what they can do to keep their child’s skills ticking over or even strengthen them. The answer lies in the adjectives ‘fun’ and ‘exploration’. With some forward planning, you can weave some learning opportunities into most activities. Children love nothing better than involving their parents/carers in their play and this is your opportunity to assist their learning whilst they are unawares. Short, regular bursts with a trusted adult as their co-adventurer have been shown to reap the best rewards.

The following suggestions are made specifically with our children with Special Educational Needs (SENs) in mind. (This term describes the range of difficulties the children may have with Numeracy, Literacy (Reading, Writing, Spelling), Working Memory, Auditory or Visual Processing difficulties etc…) If your child has SENs, you will already know because we will have been in contact with you). These suggestions work well for children with SENs but they can equally be used with children without learning difficulties. Remember, the key words here are ‘fun’ and ‘exploration’, combine them with a relaxed, curious approach and your children are sure enjoy their holiday learning experiences. Good luck and remember that success breeds success so always praise and reward your child for their efforts, no matter how small they might at first seem!

Reading– Paired reading is good practice. It models important skills such as intonation, pronunciation and awareness of punctuation. It also helps progress the story at a faster rate, keeping your child’s interest alive. Practice asking your child questions to encourage comprehension skills such as, ‘What do you think might happen next?’ and ‘How do we know that character is feeling happy?’

Phonics– Encourage your child to sound out unfamiliar words on street signs, shop windows or even in the supermarket.

Writing– Take lots of photographs of your trips and organise them into a journal. Ask your child to write a short entry into the journal each day. They could focus on their handwriting or on using powerful adjectives. They can share their journal with their class when they return to school in September.

Create fact files on animals, insects or plants of interest. Encourage your child to draw and research the animals they are fascinated by. A visit to the Botanical Gardens is a sure way of finding some lovely inspiration.

Postcards– encourage your child to send postcards to friends and family from your holiday destination. Again, focus on one specific skill such as handwriting, punctuation or vocabulary.

Mathsis all around us and skills can be developed in so many ways. For, example, visit the Mathematical Building to identify different 3D shapes.  Cook with your child to help them understand mass by weighing out ingredients. Visit a playground, take your tape measure and ruler with you as help your child to measure objects accurately. Record their findings on a sheet and talk about the differences in sizes. Visit: a whole range of practical and outdoor Maths fun you can have with your child this summer.

Alicia Lloyd

SENDCo Juniors

Cambridge International School


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