Daily Life

ESY – Extended School Year Services – What To Expect

My son will be starting ESY (short for Extended School Year). He’s participated for many years. This post will provide the basics of what ESY is, and what you can expect for your child.

If you’re new to ESY, it refers to special education services that go beyond the regular school year. Students receive these services if the IEP team determines that without it, the benefits they gained during the school year will be in jeopardy. They take into consideration regression, behavioral issues and other factors. Our school district outlines the criteria.

Your school district will have similar information about ESY. Ask for yours to understand how it works and what you can expect for your child. While it is typically implemented in the form of a summer school-based program, ESY services are not limited to that.

One thing to note – it is not optional. Once the IEP team determines that a student needs it, they legally have to provide it. The state of Virginia provides guidelines on how it can be implemented. Your state will likely have similar guidance. Ask your Department of Education for it.

What to Expect

Once your child has received placement, you’ll be notified of the location and school schedule. They may also coordinate bus transportation. If your child has anxiety about entering a new school environment, visit the school so they can develop familiarity with it.

The teacher will contact you and introduce themselves. They may also have an open house so you can visit the classroom and meet the teacher. I recommend taking photos so you can develop a social story. You can review the photos with the child and explain what is going to take place. This hopefully will help with the transition to the new environment. The other thing you can do is find out if your child knows other students in the class. There will be a list, or you can just scan the name tags on the tables. Hopefully your child will know a classmate or two, just having that connection will hopefully put them more at ease.

Sometimes teachers that they know will be there. They may not be the instructor for your child’s class. They may be teaching another class. But it always helps to see familiar faces, even if it’s in passing. One year my son’s teacher was on site, but teaching in another classroom. But she would stop in every day to say Hi to my son.

Usually they will come up with a theme for the summer program. For our ESY location, the theme this year is Adventure Awaits.

They may have activities and events surrounding the theme. It just makes it more fun for the everyone.

What do they actually do in ESY?

Once the IEP team determines that ESY is needed, they come up with goals. Note that these will not be new goals, they are meant to maintain the child’s progress. The teacher then prepares a packet for the ESY teacher to use. It’ll contain various worksheets that the teacher can use during ESY. The packet also has a data worksheet, so the ESY teacher can document the progress. For my son, we came up with three goals – reading comprehension with short passages, counting money and verbalizing CVC words (Consonant Vowel Consonant).

As for a daily schedule, here’s what it looks like for my son’s classroom. It’ll give you a rough idea of what the day-to-day looks like.

Yes they start at 8am. I know, so early! And the bus comes at 7:15. So I’ll be dragging my son out of bed around 6:45. Thankfully it’s just a three hour program, so he should be ok as long as he gets to bed on time.

Is ESY worth the time?

You may hear parents say that ESY is a waste of time. It may be based on bad experiences with the program. Or what they’ve heard from other parents. I think it’s worth trying if your child needs it. For my son, not only does he need the instruction, he also needs the structure and routine.

If you feel that a school-based program will not meet your child’s needs, there are alternatives. In the document I referenced above from the Virginia Department of Education, they provide other examples of ESY services (see page 18):

Examples include:
• the teacher and parent working together (materials could be sent home with progress periodically monitored by the teacher);
• learning packages with staff monitoring;
• home-based programs;
• grouping students with similar goals;
• school-based programs;
• cooperative programs with other agencies;
• multi-system shared programs;
• contractual arrangements with service providers or agencies;
• community-based programs; and
• vocational settings.

This is especially important to know with the teacher shortages in special education. If you’re struggling to get ESY placement for your child, contact your case manager and PSL to talk about alternatives (Procedural Support Liaison). It might be a tutor or a therapist working with your child one-on-one on IEP goals. The bottom line – they need to work with you to come up with flexible alternatives for providing the services. The other thing to point out – it should come at no cost to the parent or student. So you may have to find out how the school district is going to pay for it.

Are these alternative services easy to obtain? Parents say no, but many have been able to obtain them. You do have to advocate strongly for your child, and why the school-based programming will not meet their needs. However, if there’s no school-based program due to teacher shortages, you shouldn’t have a problem. Teacher shortages is another subject and will probably be the topic of my next post.

Hopefully this post helped you understand more about ESY and what to expect. Did i leave anything out? Or do you have anything to add? Chime in below.