Say No to Summer School

Many parents send me questions like this at the end of a school year:

I have a daughter who just finished first grade. I am pretty sure she has dyslexia.

The last two months of school have been a nightmare of real and feigned sickness and tears every day as she tries to get out of going to school.

Jane struggles so much and ends her day so sad and frustrated due to journal writing, or even worse, having to copy poems from the board. What makes it even worse for her is seeing every other kid at her table do it faster and better.

My daughter’s school is recommending summer school. My worry is that their summer school is not going to help her – and it may make her hate school even more.

Most summer school programs just teach the very same reading program your child got during the school year, which will not help someone with dyslexia.

Summer School

So I tell parents to say “no” to summer school, and instead, get your child the right type of tutoring – with the Barton System or any other good Orton-Gillingham based system — for an hour a day, every day, during the summer.

If you do not, second grade will be even worse – as this mother shared:

I am the mother of an extremely bright, frustrated, and sad 8 year old girl.

We have been struggling to find answers to her troubles within the school system.
Everyone knows she is very smart, but her written work reflects the exact opposite. She cannot spell or get ideas into written form.

The teacher claims she just needs to study harder, or she is just being a “difficult” child.

My daughter overheard her tell the principal that my daughter is “unteachable.”

Kids bully her and refer to her as “dumb” and “stupid.” This is so far from reality.

She is extremely articulate, has a wonderful imagination, loves information, and thinks things through very carefully. I want her to aspire to all that she can be. She is so bright and so interested in the world.

But if I don’t find some answers soon, she is going to fall through the cracks and continue on this downward spiral.

And by third grade, they all hit the wall in reading development, as this mom shared:

I must say that your video is superb! I cried a lot as you described my son. I wish teachers and administrators were required to watch it – as I’m sure my son would have been caught much earlier, and that would have saved him (and us) a lot of anxiety and stress.

For the past two years (during first and second grade) school became such a stressor that my husband and I not only looked forward to the summer break, but we would get start to get anxiety attacks in August . . . realizing school was about to start again. I’m sure whatever we were feeling was 10 times worse for our son.

My son just started 3rd grade and I can see that brick wall before us. He can read, but his reading speed is so slow. It took us 2.5 hours to get through 16 pages of a small chapter book last night.

By fourth grade, they often qualify for special ed. But that doesn’t make school any better – as this parent shared.

My son is in 4th grade. He has dyslexia. He is a special ed student.

His regular ed teacher is so ignorant of dyslexia. She wants my son to participate in a 4th grade spelling bee because she wants to “challenge” him.

My son is terrified and traumatized at the thought of standing up in front of his classmates and being humiliated – again.

Without the right type of one-on-one tutoring, they will be stuck forever at the third grade reading level, as this mother shared:

My son is in 7th grade, but his reading fluency and comprehension have been stuck at the 3rd grade level for years – despite years of special ed services, and despite my following their advice of forcing him to read out loud to me for 20 minutes every day.

When he passed 6th grade, I was thrilled because newspapers, magazines, and job applications are written at the 6th grade level. So we bought a box of brownie mix to celebrate. I was crushed when he could not read the cooking instructions on the box.

And adults who were forced to go to summer school when they were kids know it never helped, as this adult shared:

I have dyslexia.

My early school years were horrible. No one knew what to do with me, so they just passed me through each year.

But I had to attend summer school EVERY summer. I hated it, and it never helped.

I grew up thinking I must be stupid because it took so much time to read, study and retain information.

I am pretty sure my 7 year old daughter has dyslexia, too. I see so much of myself in her. She is struggling with reading and has started saying that she hates school.

I will do anything to prevent the torture I went through as a child from happening to her.

So, parents, if you know or suspect your child has dyslexia, just say “no” to summer school. Get them the right type of tutoring instead.

33 responses

  1. I would like to know where I can find help for my son. He is a very bright 8 year old, but he struggles with his spelling & reading. I have homeschooled him & tried to encourage him, but he gets very frustrated & a lot of times he says that he thinks he is stupid 😦

    1. Tell me your city and state. I will then send you a list of Certified Barton Tutors in your area.

      1. I am looking for help for my Granddaughter. I struggle with dyslexia, so does she. As she enters middle school, she wants to do well, but reading is still a huge struggle. We live in North San Diego County. Tutors in this area?

      2. Here are the Certified Barton Tutors in Southern California:

        Agoura, Calabasas, East Ventura County, Simi Valley, West San Fernando Valley
        Donna Kaplan, 805-358-0600 – also LiPS Trained –willing to travel

        George G. Fox, Fox Dyslexia Solutions, 714-226-0905

        Anaheim Hills
        Cindy Palacios, 714-637-8370 ext 228

        Camarillo / Oxnard
        Nancy Hey, 805-630-8601
        Tish Perez, 805-405-5086

        Chino / Chino Hills
        Lynn Bentson, 909-983-5606

        El Cajon
        Suzanne Pearson, 619-454-2688

        Patty Marks, H.E.R.O., 818-636-6919

        Tina Talley, Sparks Learning Center, 760-737-6117
        Sherrie Sweet, Sparks Learning Center, 760-737-6117

        Frazier Park
        Anick Steiger, All-Star Tutoring, 661-245-1836

        Glendale / Burbank
        Carmen Brandes, 818-929-1001 – Certified at the Masters Level
        Jeanine Cochran, 818-929-1451 – Certified at the Masters Level
        Lisa R. Meyer, 805-279-8558
        Carla Sampson, 818-859-9646 – Certified at the Advanced Level

        Granada Hills
        Vanessa Silver, M.S., BCET, 818-363-1774

        La Habra
        Anita Miller, 562-690-1454

        Lake Elsinore
        Sharon Mathias, 951-775-0544

        Laguna Niguel
        Joanne Literelle, 949-874-5115

        Long Beach
        Connie Kritzer, 562-400-1349 – also LiPS Trained

        Los Angeles
        Karyl Rapport, MA, 323-522-3285 – certified at the Masters Level

        Mission Hills in the San Fernando Valley
        Judy Luedke, 818-361-6800 – certified at the Masters Level

        Newbury Park
        Connie Wetzel, 805-490-8921

        Newport Beach
        Stephanie Lamas, 562-243-9116

        Oceanside / Vista
        Lissa M. Robinette, 760-212-1340

        Palm Desert
        Diane K. Berk, 206-794-3294

        Pasadena / South Pasadena
        Kelly Paulsen, M.A., The Learning Cottage, 323-445-8614 – certified at the Masters Level – also LiPS trained
        Francine Sanchez, M.A., Learning With Confidence, 760-443-1587

        San Clemente
        Joanne Bohn, 949-433-8550

        San Diego
        Kristin Hembd, 760-707-2571
        Andra Hansen, REAdbEAR, 858-376-1715
        Andra can also do Remote Barton tutoring via the internet
        JoEllyn Short, 619-583-7589
        Jolene Klabunde, Mrs. K Tutoring, 619-755-9506

        San Diego (Coronado)
        Kellee Blauser, 850-218-7531

        San Diego (North County, Poway)
        Sharon Laputka, 858-774-1358
        Autumn Gray, 760-533-7388

        San Diego (North County, Encinitas)
        Emily Horne, 760-815-6219

        San Diego (North County, Rancho Bernardo)
        Belinda Hill, 858-722-6156

        San Diego (East County, La Mesa)
        Deborah Eckert, 619-213-7372 or 619-589-5427

        San Fernando Valley
        Lorelei Bastin, 818-667-8479 – certified at the Advanced Level

        San Juan Capistrano
        Judy Reising, 949-633-6895

        Santa Ana / Orange County
        Lora Williams, 714-856-5454

        Santa Clarita area
        Mary Converse, 661-297-6363
        Linda Fox, 661-252-7371
        Lori Ohler, 661-513-0159
        Chrissie Lim, Learning Success, 661-222-2233 – certified at the Advanced level – also LiPS trained

        Joanne McLay, 818-352-4805 – certified at the Advanced Level

        Peggie Evans, 951-282-8904
        Hallie Botkin, 951-897-8118

        Thousand Oaks/Westlake
        Conejo Dyslexia Resources
        Debra Brison, 805-373-9466
        Mary Ann Maguire, 805-379-2898
        Kelli Schroeder, 805-559-0829
        Toni Wagner, 805-494-3071 — willing to travel in Simi Valley and West San Fernando Valley

        Stephanie Aanderud, The Skill of Literacy, 310-429-6479 – Certified at the Advanced Level
        Mary Vukovich, 310-791-0377

        Cynthia Dapello, 909-214-4697 – certified at the Advanced level – also LiPS trained
        Cynthia can also do Remote Barton tutoring via the internet

        Van Nuys
        Jan Dandurand, 818-913-0471

        Suzanne Jellison, The Art of Reading, 805-340-9668 – certified at the Masters Level
        Donna Brown, 805-377-0791 – certified at the Masters Level
        Andrew Brown, 805-290-2866

        Dawn Ricker, 714-721-7794

      3. Cynthia johnson

        Is their a tutor in Twentynine Palms California? Diane Berk is the only one I could find. She is 90 minutes away.

      4. No, there are no Certified Barton Tutors in Twentynine Palms.

        I can send you a list of Certified Tutors who can do remote tutoring over the internet — if you tell me your email.

  2. Hi my daughter also struggle with this as well. Buy him a dry erase board and something the likes such as my daughter loves wwe so I get her wwe stuff and have her write heir names words, out together stories ect it’s really helped. Be patient too. Let him work at his pace don’t overdo it. 🙂

  3. I have to disagree with you 100%. I had learning disabilities as a child (dyslexia and auto processing) and two of my 4 sons do as well. going to summer school when i was younger was the best time in my education.I have good great memories of summer school. i learned so much more in those 6 weeks than i did in the whole school year. Teachers were better and way summer school set up was better than the regular school year. this year I am fighting my hardest to get my two special needs students into summer school for our school district has cut it. Now that they have given into me for summer school now I have to fight the school for more than 45 minutes for three subjects in 4 weeks. What the problem that is not being addressed is what is being taught and people are hung up that is running into people’s down time. if there is a good educational program attending a summer program would show results. But because the educational system is broken for both regular and learning disability students that is why this study is showing summer schools don’t work. I rather have my children in summer school 6 to 7 weeks of good summer education than for them to have to start from the beginning in sept were they have to relearn months before they can get into anything new. I also shouldn’t have to pay for education that the public school should be giving because it is a part of their IEP. All learning disability students should have the right to be able to go and should go.

  4. My son is 7. He has auditory processing issues and possibly dyslexia. He has an IEP and gets pulled for Reading and Launguage Arts during the school year. They typically use Teachers College for reading, which good, but isn’t the best for kids having trouble reading. We are lucky they also spend about 20 min additional a day teaching him (& a small group of kids) PAF (Preventative Acedemic Failure (nice name huh?), which is a phonics based program. He did Summer school last year and while he liked it, it didn’t do much in helping to boost his reading. In our Summer school, ALL learning disability kids are mixed together. This means that kids with any type of Reading and/or learning disability, Autism (at any spectrium), mental retardation, name it is welcomed and mixed together in the Summer program. My son is going into 3rd grade next year (will be 8 this Summer) and we decided to decline the Summer school. He is confident in himself and knows he has an auditory processing issue and possible dyslexia. We have talked about it and talk about how everyone grows and learns in their own time and how we just need to figure out the best way for him to learn and work towards it. We are blessed that he is smart and he’s confident and aware of what’s going on. He just needs some help. We’d like to keep his confidence level up and decided to decline the Summer school program. We purchased an on-line program that he is working with for about 30 minutes a day (Hear and will also be getting a private tutor who teaches the Wilson reading method two times a week. While it cuts into our budget and we will have to cut back in other areas, we feel this is the best thing to do for him this Summer.

    1. Linda, I think you are on the right track with your son. His self confidence is a good indicator of that. It is good that he has an IEP, but remember you are his best advocate and the school will give you what you want IF you can show them that THEY owe him a “Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Invironment” This is legal language. Read and understand section 504 of IDEA law. Make sure that your son maintains an educational environment that will enable him to reach HIS potential. That is what a IEP is meant to provide. Learn about assistive technologies that will allow him to learn in a way that does not discriminate against him because of his “difference”. Google the word “neurodiversity”
      All the best to you!

  5. The claim “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” (attributed to Einstein) seems relevant here.

    (In this case: Attempting to improve reading skills through increasing the quantity of a type of tuition that does not appear to work.)

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  8. An effective ESY program is INDIVIDUALLY designed to meet the unique needs of the child. If the child requires 1:1 tutoring using a particular program to make effective progress, than this is what the parents should be advocating for within the IEP team process. There are plenty of parents whose children get 1:1 tutoring, attendance at dyslexia specific programming, or full summer programs that deliver progress via the ESY process within an IEP. ESY is NOT the same as Summer school and anyone’s team who is trying to sell you that is not following the law. An experienced advocate can help you secure what you need for your child. I think this article does a great injustice to the IEP process and promotes the misconception that district’s are not responsible for delivering specifically what the child requires free of charge. Parents need to be better informed and equipped to advocate for their own child. They don’t need to be mislead by the thought that all they can expect from a school is a one size fits all or nothing choice.

    1. Thank you for your comments. Please note that I was referring to summer school, not to ESY.

  9. My 6 year old daughter is having a real hard time at her school. Every year they keep talking to me about holding her back. I don’t think that will help her. I am looking for help in the Escondido, ca

    1. Please tell me your email so I can send you the research that proves retention will not help her — as well as a list of professionals in your area.

      Or send me an email asking for those two items. My email is: Susan@BrightSolutions.US

  10. Diane Spengler | Reply

    Hello Susan
    I am looking for help in the Lehigh Acres Florida help I would be interested in a on line help because of different times we are working over the summer Please send me information thank You Diane
    My e-mail address is

  11. My daughter is 11 and fortunately made it into our AAP program despite the fact that she is dyslexic and add. She has been evaluated outside the school this year and we applied for an IEP. We’ e been told at the end of 2 RTI sessions ( which were a joke) that she is not dyslexic enough to even be evaluated! It blows my mind that one of the highest rated schools systems in the country– FAIRFAX COUNTY in VA has completely violated the process after a student of theirs has a formal prescription of what would help her medically!
    I am being told by friends that they agree with the system, “she’ll be fine she is so smart” ” kids with more severe difficultly deserve the resources”
    This is crazy thinking to me, yes she is smart but that does not mean she doesn’t deserve education that is proven to help a person like her so she can continue her education in all the subjects that require reading and writing, which is all of them!
    We are starting the tutoring process this summer, OG specialist, 2 times a week for that is all we can afford. My question is: can it work only doing two sessions a week, and then practicing with me the other days?
    I also have the same or similar difficulties as my daughter so I also wonder if I will be able to be effective practicing with her.
    Sorry for the long post, we are just so furious after this weeks IEP rejection.
    Any thoughts?

    1. Yes, twice a week tutoring using an Orton-Gillingham based system will close the gap in her skills. But the gap will close faster if you can tutor more often.

  12. I am looking for recommendations for tutoring my 7year old son I live in Ramona Ca

    1. You could either tutor him yourself using the Barton Reading & Spelling System (, or you can hire one of the these Certified Barton Tutors:

      San Diego
      Andra Hansen, REAdbEAR, 858-376-1715
      Andra can also do Remote Barton tutoring via the internet
      JoEllyn Short, 619-583-7589
      Jolene Klabunde, Mrs. K Tutoring, 619-755-9506 – certified at the Masters Level
      Rachel Herman, Learning For All, 619-453-3620

      San Diego Central San Diego and East County)
      David Wortman, Dyslexia Tutor & Consultant, 619-871-0892

      San Diego (East County, Lemon Grove)
      Denise Duppee, 619-997-3946

      San Diego (Coronado)
      Kellee Blauser, 850-218-7531

      San Diego (North County, Poway)
      Sharon Laputka, 858-774-1358
      Autumn Gray, 760-533-7388

      San Diego (North County, Rancho Bernardo)
      Belinda Hill, 858-722-6156

      San Diego (East County, La Mesa)
      Deborah Eckert, 619-213-7372 or 619-589-5427

  13. Hi, my son will be entering 4th grade. He has attended a public charter homeschool. But, I will be sending him back to a regular charter school M-F. I am so scared. His father has dyslexia. My so. Has all the signs, but I am unable to afford a test for a diagnosis right now. Can you please send me more information on the summer camp or tutors in San Diego CA. Or if you know of Barton reading clinics. Thank you so much. I’m so worried about sending him back to school, but I have to go back to work full-time. So, I so t be able to give him one on one help anymore. Thanks.

    1. Here is a list of Certified Barton Tutors in the San Diego area:

      *San Diego* Andra Hansen, REAdbEAR, 858-376-1715 Andra can also do Remote Barton tutoring via the internet JoEllyn Short, 619-583-7589 Jolene Klabunde, Mrs. K Tutoring, 619-755-9506 – certified at the Masters Level Rachel Herman, Learning For All, 619-453-3620

      *San Diego* (Central San Diego and East County) David Wortman, Dyslexia Tutor & Consultant, 619-871-0892

      *San Diego* (East County, Lemon Grove) Denise Duppee, 619-997-3946

      *San Diego* (Coronado) Kellee Blauser, 850-218-7531

      *San Diego* (North County, Poway) Sharon Laputka, 858-774-1358 Autumn Gray, 760-533-7388

      *San Diego* (North County, Rancho Bernardo) Belinda Hill, 858-722-6156

      *San Diego* (East County, La Mesa) Deborah Eckert, 619-213-7372 or 619-589-5427

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  15. My son just turned nine and will be entering the 4 th grade. He has always struggled with reading and spelling. He was pulled out in kinder 2nd and 3rd for reading help. And we have always done a lot at home phonics, high frequency words vowel combinations, fluency passages, comprehension questions you name it. He is terrific by the way. And for the past 8 months he has worked weekly with a tutor, and while his stamina and decoding skills have come a long way I wonder where to go from here. I am told he has to be two grade levels behind for the school to do anything. He did not hit his benchmarks for fluency or comprehension at the end of third grade and spelling and writing are laborious for him but he is not that far and makes “significant gains” He also has some undefined speech issues. I see or have seen many of the symptoms from your list in my son. I enrolled him in a summer reading program that meets once s week for five weeks and he’s reading Henry Huggins easily and enjoying it. But I wonder does he need something more specialized? I know he will love the content taught in fourth but reading comprehension and his slow writing will be challenges. Would love suggestions.

  16. My son is in fifth grade and he is getting better in reading, but still not enough to be close to where he should be. His writing is following suit as well.
    I would like to find a tutor for him.
    We live in reseda, ca 91335
    Please let me know what is around us.
    Thank you,

    1. I will send you a list of Certified Barton Tutors — if you tell me your email.

      If you do not want to post your email here (where other people could see it), then send me an email asking for a list of tutor in Reseda, California. My email is: Susan@BrightSolutions.US

  17. Hi do you have a current list of tutors you can send me for Westminster CA or Huntington Beach CA

    1. I will send you a list of Certified Barton Tutors — if you tell me your email.

      If you do not want to post your email here (where other people could see it), then send me an email asking for a list of tutors in Southern California. My email is: Susan@BrightSolutions.US

  18. I have 2 granddaughters that has dyslexia. Where can we go or who can we contact for help?

    1. Tell me your city and state. I will then send you a list of Certified Barton Tutors in your area.

  19. I was a Montessori preschool teacher for over 30 years; so the process of learning to read has always interested me. Obviously I love the Montessori approach to learning. Most of my students by the time they left at age 6, could read using the multi sensory approach used in Montessori. Of the ones who were not, all had been given the “tools” when their brains were ready to kick in to read. I had two confirmed cases of dyslexia later in elementary school. Both had biological fathers with dyslexia. One girl’s mother didn’t even know her husband couldn’t read until their daughter was diagnosed.
    ( He went into the trades after high school and was able to fake through). Both girls learned to read in elementary school
    (I think our district uses one of those programs listed above in the article.) One girl is an attorney. Montessori starts with phonics but the classroom libraries and curriculum materials are all based on reality, science and geography.

    My second daughter is a lefty and although she learned phonics in my classroom, reading fluently was not coming easily to her. Her first grade teacher suggested having her tested because she was too bright to be struggling so much. I declined at that point because I don’t think all kids are ready to be forced into reading by age 6. Her second grade teacher was an enthusiastic Whole Language teacher and my daughter loved the rich literature involved and all the book making. Still not progressing much in reading fluently but she loved books. After that summer when she turned nine going into third grade, her brain clicked and reading came together for her. I knew she knew how to “read” in a basic way despite all her reversals(could write 1-100 mirrored like da Vinci until like she said “I figured out I have to write them the wrong way for them to be right”) when she stopped reversing her letters and numbers. When we moved in fifth grade they tested her but this was searching for what was going on with her math issues.

    They tested reading too and at the beginning of fifth grade she was tested at a twelfth grade reading level already. How could that be? She had excellent listening skills and loved to be read to. When she was four I found her out in the hall listening to me reading EB White’s Trumpet of the Swan to her first grade sister. I invited her to join us and I read novels to her every day through fifth grade. Since children’s comprehension skills have been noted to be about three years ahead of reading ability, I was able to keep her interest in reading during those years of lagging behind the others by reading aloud books that she couldn’t read herself. None of the novels had more then maybe a small picture at the beginning of the chapter. I used the Jim Trelease Read Aloud Handbooks to make our book choices. The handbooks were invaluable. I believe the “Why Can’t Johnny Read” books were out back then and reading TO the later readers was emphasized.

    To this day I still believe reading novels to her made the biggest difference in her eventually reading(plus the phonics training to give her the tools) I have disagreed how reading is taught in many schools. I couldn’t believe the push to memorize sight words in kindergarten before many kids knew their letters(i volunteered in my grandkids’ classrooms.
    Then the schools bought into those purchased reading programs that seemed to be catered to one size fits all. Children learn to read from all different approaches.
    My grandson is a recipient of those “methods” and in high school reading is still a struggle.

    These are just my personal experiences and people can take or not take what they want. I can’t emphasize that no matter what one’s child’s limitations might be in reading – reading to that child and not putting pressure to read himself or herself is one wonderful way to bond and share a book that we remember forever. Keeping alive the love for reading can be realized during those difficult years of “not reading” and beyond.

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