How to Choose the Best Summer Learning Interventions for Your Child

Heading into summer after your child or teen finishes the school year can feel like a welcome relief— especially if they struggled with less-than-stellar grades. Without the hassles that often come with early mornings, homework meltdowns, standardized testing, and bedtime tantrums, the slower pace of summer break often provides respite to overwhelmed parents and kids alike. After you take some time to decompress from the rigorous demands of academics, after-school sports, and other activities, it may be worth looking into potential learning interventions for your student to make the return to the classroom a more hopeful and positive experience.

Of course, the avenues you choose to investigate will depend on several factors, not the least of which is your child’s current learning challenges, strengths, and goals. But it can’t hurt to start familiarizing yourself with the many options available, including how they work and who might benefit most from each type of program. 

Here are four of the common learning interventions worthy of your consideration.

Test prep courses

For students who struggle with test anxiety or who just can’t seem to score well on standardized tests despite earning good grades in school, a test preparation class might be just what they need. Designed to increase students’ performance on tests like the SAT and ACT, this intervention provides mock tests to familiarize students with the format, content, and time restraints of standardized tests before taking the actual exam. In addition, these courses can teach helpful strategies, such as reading contest clues, using mnemonics to memorize important facts and formulas, and narrowing down multiple-choice questions to improve the student’s chances of guessing an answer correctly. 

Who may benefit: Students who suffer from test anxiety or who are looking for tips and techniques to maximize their score on standardized tests, such as the SAT and ACT


Many parents incorrectly assume that tutoring is designed to help students with learning struggles, when the reality is that it’s actually an academic solution to a knowledge-based problem. That’s not to say that tutoring doesn’t have its place. For a child who missed a lot of class time due to an extended absence from an illness, injury, or relocation mid-schoolyear, tutoring can help them get “caught up” on the material they missed the first time. It may also be helpful if a student who was performing well in school before struggling under the instruction of a string of substitute teachers filling in for a teacher’s leave of absence. 

Who may benefit: Students who need help being taught information—such as math formulas, history facts, or science principles—they missed the first time it was taught

Personal brain training

Also known as “one-on-one cognitive skills training,” personal brain training programs use a series of science-backed drills, games, and mental exercises to target and train the root cause of learning struggles: the brain’s learning and thinking skills. 

Programs are tailored to each client based on the results of an initial Brain Skills Assessment that identifies which cognitive skills (e.g., auditory processing, attention, long-term or working memory, visual processing speed, logic & reasoning) are strong and which could benefit from training. Every client is paired with their own personal brain trainer, who uses a customized learning plan to target and train any brain skills in need of a boost. Thanks to well-researched techniques, such as repetition, intensity, loading, and positive feedback, students quickly build confidence as they make progress through the fun but challenging exercises. 

Thanks to advances in technology, cognitive skills training can be done in person at your nearest brain training center or online via live video. 

Who may benefit: Students whose brain skills assessment indicates underperforming cognitive skills—often found in children with ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia (trouble with math), autism, and memory-related issues; As well as students looking to maximize their learning, thinking, and reading skills to help prepare them for a transition to a more intense course load (e.g., AP classes, college, freshman year of high school)

For More: Tutoring vs. Brain Training Comparison >>

Occupational therapy

Children whose difficulties aren’t limited to school and whose experience challenges don’t affect most “typically” developing children may benefit from the broader scope of interventions offered by occupational therapy. This holistic approach to helping kids and teens addresses not only learning struggles but also the physical, sensory, psychosocial, and cognitive components of performance. Occupational therapists focus on a spectrum of challenges, working to improve everything from sensory processing, social participation, and self-care skills to fine motor skills, transitions, and self-regulating arousal levels. Although practitioners often work in a school environment in order to help integrate accommodations inside the classroom, many students find that continued support throughout the summer is beneficial. 

Who may benefit: Children and teens with developmental delay, challenges to fine and/or gross motor skills, eating and feeding difficulties, challenges with visual processing, difficulties with oral motor or oral sensory skills, struggles with social interactions, sensory processing disorders, and learning challenges.

Something to Consider When Evaluating Learning Interventions

As you begin your research into these common learning interventions, ensure that you’re comparing apples to apples. Not every program will be the right fit for your child or teen and you don’t want to end up throwing time and money at what you think is at the root of the problem. If your student doesn’t already have a diagnosis (e.g., ADHD, test anxiety, sensory issues), start by looking for interventions that offer initial assessments rather than blanket solutions. You also want to carefully evaluate the research associated with the interventions you’re looking into. What data do they have on their exact methodology and programs to support their claims that they will help your child? Science-based learning interventions will always have this information readily available.

With the right intervention, your child or teen can start the new school year on the right foot, giving everyone in the family a little breathing room and your student a boost in confidence as they head back to the classroom. 

Follow Along for More Real-Life Parenting Tips!

Check out The Brainy Moms on…