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Regression - Understanding Regression and Loss of Skills During School Breaks

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Updated June 27, 2014

Mother and two kids using laptop
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Definition: Regression is the loss of learned skills; usually after breaks in instruction such as after summer vacation. Some regression is normal in all children. In some instances, however, students are profoundly affected by lapses in instruction. These students may be unable to store concepts in their long-term memory in a way that can be easily recalled. The amount of instruction they need to recover or "recoup" their abilities may be longer than other students need, and they may need additional instruction to catch up.

The best remedy for regression is to prevent it from happening. Teachers can assist in preventing regression by recommending activities for parents to use over breaks. Age-appropriate activities such as doing reading activities together, calculating grocery bills, and keeping journals and scrapbooks are fun ways for kids to apply skills in meaningful activities.

For those students who have the most difficulty with recoupment, specially designed instruction may be needed during breaks. Parents and teachers should consult school administrators to determine if students are eligible and to find out about services available over break. Such services may be referred to as Extended School Services, ESS, Extended School Year, ESY, Supplemental Education Services, or other similar terms.

Each of these programs have specific requirements for eligibility, and parents can find out more information on those requirements by contacting their school principal, counselor, or district level special education coordinator.

Back to Special Education and Learning Disability Terms

In day to day specially designed instruction, teachers should include instructional activities to ensure maintenance and generalization of skills they learn.

Also Known As: slippage, loss of skills, forgetting, falling behind, can't remember what is learned, failure to maintain skills, lack of maintenance and generalization of skills

Examples:
When a learning disabled student experiences more regression than typical students his age, he may need additional special education services over school breaks.

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