I recently met Brandon Slade, who runs an after-school and summer program for middle and high school students who struggle with ADHD, executive function, and dyslexia. We were discussing the challenges some students have with the pace and level of work they must master, even though they are very bright and capable of learning the required material. He mentioned the importance of giving some students an opportunity to pre-learn so that they can level the playing field. I asked Brandon to share a bit about his experience and thoughts for using summer as an opportunity for learning. He shared his thoughts below.
The Value of “Pre-Teaching”
As summer nears, it’s a good time to think about whether you want to enroll your children in any activities while they’re out of school. Sometimes we think about signing our students up for sports, performance arts, or science programs to fine-tune their skills and perhaps give them a leg up on the competition, we encourage you to do the same with academics. Routine and practice are integral to the executive functioning of all successful students, regardless of the activity. The academic gains that are made during the school year, especially in math, reading, and writing will still need reinforcement to become solidified as long-term knowledge and skill. And for children who struggle with ADHD, executive function challenges, and learning challenges, “pre-teaching” information that will be covered in the next school year can provide them with an opportunity to learn in at a pace and in a manner that suits them best. School skills can slip over the summer, and we don’t want anyone to fall behind!
Through pre-teaching, students can benefit from an introduction to key concepts and terminology they will be learning in the upcoming year. This level of familiarity with the curriculum helps students feel more confident and comfortable in their new classrooms. In our program, we’ve seen that students’ information retention and confidence in the classroom improve after pre-teaching. Students benefit from starting the “game of school” a few steps ahead by improving their working memory and processing speed. With writing, we see that our students often have great ideas, yet struggle to organize them logically. Familiarizing students over the summer with the types of essays they’ll frequently encounter during school is beneficial for timed writings in class in addition to assigned essays.
Pre-teaching is intended to help instill familiarity with upcoming material and create more confident engagement in the classroom the next school year. Students who struggle to learn in big groups without individual instruction often thrive in the interactive, one-on-one environment we provide with no pressure from grading or exams. Pre-teaching over the summer is most effective with breaks involving research-based movements to keep students sharp and engaged. This practice sets our students up for success and gives them more opportunity to excel in the subject areas we cover.
After teaching Special Education for 12 years, Brandon Slade founded Mentoring Through Movement. He currently helps students improve work ethic, resiliency, discipline, and executive function skills. For more information visit mentoringthroughmovement.com.