Planning For the Extended School Year And Beyond

The extended school year is a wonderful time to practice the maintenance of skills that our learners gained throughout the school year. This is an important time for teachers and families to work together to incorporate generalization opportunities. When planning for ESY, I enjoy using unit themes such as summer, insects, and the Earth. We touch on these units towards the end of the regular school year, and ESY provides the schedule to review and expand on these. Hands on materials, real life learning, and getting time to be outside is most enjoyable. Our learners get to explore more areas outside of our classroom which is a wonderful experience for them. We continue keeping data, monitor progress, and track the maintenance of skills.

Organization of materials

Before prepping for ESY, the team and I sort through materials and plan for the next school year. The end of the school year is a wonderful time to organize teacher materials and toys by themes and units. Although we are organized and structured throughout the year, there are times when materials and activities do not always make it back to their designated spot. This also allows time to go through lesson plans and review my reflections of plans and activities. Some of the review and reflection questions questions that I keep track of are:

  • What worked well?
  • What didn’t work?
  • Which lessons did I have to change while we were doing them?
  • Which lessons went faster than anticipated?
  • Which lessons need new or updated materials

Keeping track of this information throughout the year is a tremendous help when I want to repeat and reuse materials!

Planning and Prep

While working on the ESY pacing guide for our classroom, we also work on the pacing guide for the next school year. My team and I look at units and themes from the general education classrooms and review what we did last school year. We list our pacing guide by weeks, including days or special activities in the weeks. Below are examples of some of our favorite planning ideas!

  • Themes: beginning of the year, garden, the farm, things that go, our community
  • Life skill: clean up toys, take off and put on shoes and socks, meal preparation, laundry, oral hygiene
  • Social game: musical chairs, duck duck goose, london bridges, ring around the rosie
  • Social skill: greetings, eating snack with a friend, get in line when your name is called
  • Question of the month: what’s your name, who are your teachers, where are you, who is this?


Sending Home Materials

Sending home materials to our learners and their families might be one of my favorite things! Throughout this 2020-2021 school year, my team and I have sent each learner many hands on materials. We also sent home materials for ESY last year. Materials and ideas are in my blog post here. This summer, we are not sending home materials for to keep stress low. We do not want to overwhelm the families with what they already have. ESY will include assignments and small group work using the activities and materials that our learner’s families already have. This will help families follow through with generalization and practice of maintenance of skills in the home.

Some of my must have items that work in all areas of our classroom are:

  • Weekly workbooks
  • Leveled homework
  • File folders
  • Communication based work tasks
  • Leveled Curriculum

Whether I am planning for ESY, take home materials for our learners, or for the next school year, I always make sure that materials and lessons for our learners’ next programs or skills are made and ready. Once a learner masters a skill or program, there is no wasted prep time looking for materials or creating and prepping materials for the next. I try and stay one step ahead of each learners’ skills and programs. It does take a lot of work and organization, but leaves time for the many other things we need to get done!


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