For some kids, the learning doesn’t stop

Parents should ask to review the impact of ESY services on their child

My daughter and I were sitting on the porch one morning on vacation when we looked up to see a school van lumbered down the little alleyway between the beach homes.   

As the days passed, I watched the bus as it crawled by in the early morning, and often again in the afternoon. Sometimes there was one child on the bus, and sometimes three. I would think how tough it must be for the children to board the bus each day in such an idyllic spot, watching as their peers tumbled out of their houses in their bathing suits, headed for yet another day of fun on the beach with their boogie boards, floats and assorted sand toys.

There are children who receive special education services that benefit from and require continuation of services during the summer. The specific services and time spent in programs vary based on the needs of the individual students but in general, students spend much of their summer in school or other specialized educational settings working to retain the skills they acquired during the previous school year.

These special education and/or related services, as determined under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) are known as Extended School Year (ESY) services. Each student’s team must meet by a certain date each year to determine if that student would experience significant regression of skills or loss of emerging skills if not provided with these services beyond the traditional school year.

Services such as these are helpful students. However, as I watched the students seated inside the school van, I thought of how hard they were working, the perseverance they must have, and the determination and strength they needed to carry them through those days while other children are able to relax, have fun, and recharge before the start of the upcoming school year.

Because it’s September, and the early weeks of school have passed by along with our warm nights, and summer greenery, it’s important for school personnel to remember some of our children — those who already have to fight hard every day to gain essential skills — are not fully recharged.

As parent advocates, it would be helpful at the first team meeting of the year to request that one of the agenda items be a review of the student’s summer and how this could impact the school year. What type of ESY programming was your student involved in; for how many weeks and how many hours of the day? Did your student get a break in between ESY and the new school year? How is your student feeling at the start of the year? Are they overwhelmed, or are they feeling good about the benefits of being in ESY?

Whatever the answers, the team should discuss the positive and possible stressful impacts of the summer’s ESY on the student, then use this information to review the student’s needs, which might include revising the IEP, adding in breaks to prevent burn-out, or providing time with the guidance counselor, school nurse, or whomever is your student’s school “go-to” person.

Providing scaffolding to your student at the beginning of the year will bolster that tremendous summer effort. 

Elizabeth Feingold retired from Kearsarge Regional School District, where she worked for over 30 years as a special education teacher and coordinator at the elementary, middle and high school levels. She is now a consultant and advocate. Reach her through or email

More Learning Curve columns by Liz Feingold

60 days and counting

What to expect during your child’s evaluation period

Know before you go

What to expect at a disposition-of referral or evaluation meeting

Remembering my father, my teacher

Reflecting on the lessons he taught me everyday through his actions

Managing anxiety

Students can succeed with a treatment plan and support

The job of the advocate

To best serve the special education student, it takes time
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