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Make it a perfect learning summer

Finding the perfect camp when your child has LD

By Valle Dwight

No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers' .... (well, you know how the song goes.) But for a lot of kids, summer is a great time to stick to the books in an in-depth way not possible during the school year. Kids with learning disabilities may even make a breakthrough in an intensive camp where much of the focus is on learning.

So, how do you find the right place? We asked a few experts to help parents through the tough part of selecting the perfect camp. They helped us figure out the right questions to ask, what to look for, and what to avoid in a summer camp for kids with learning disabilities.

Dr. Meg Carroll, of Saint Xavier University in Chicago, IL says that the idea of a summer camp just for students with learning disabilities is appealing in part because kids may have opportunities to address the social aspects of having learning disabilities as well as building a core of academic competencies.

She says that the key factors parents should look for when considering a camp are:

  • Training of the personnel. Are the teachers certified for work with kids who have LD? Don’t be afraid to ask for the teachers’ credentials.
  • Attention to all aspects of the experience. Has the camp's administration planned activities that are appropriate for students with LD? Are there opportunities for campers to learn and practice social skills? What is the plan for dealing with the difficulties kids may face with the demands of life away from home and experiences outside of their regular routine?
  • Appropriate staffing. Learning disabilities are often considered a mild disability because the students have adequate intellect. However, learning disabilities affect children in different ways. Sometimes, ordinary activities (such as sharing toothpaste or navigating a cafeteria line) can be difficult. Is the ratio of staff to campers sufficient to give campers guidance as needed and supportively monitor their activities? A ratio of one counselor to four campers is recommended.
  • Preparation prior to activities. Often, kids with LD don't like surprises. Find out how the camp presents new activities. Will they give adequate thought to experiences that will be new to campers? Will there be a preview (perhaps a video or role play) of the activity, along with instruction about what to expect? At the end, will there be a chance to talk about what they did? 

Valle Dwight is a reporter, writer, and mother of two school-aged boys. She has written for many magazines, including FamilyFun, Wondertime, and Working Mother.

Comments from readers

"trying to locate a camp such as this in new orleans or surrunding areas."