Summer is a time for fun and soaking up the vitamin D – but, especially given all that has occurred over the last few years, how do you decide what makes sense for your child and your family? Summer camp, Extended School Year program offered through the resident school, time off altogether – with so many options to think about, it can be a bit overwhelming to select the right fit for your family.

FIRST – Determine if your student is eligible for an ESY program

Students with special education needs are entitled to Extended School Year programming if they are determined to be eligible. There are several factors that guide this eligibility, and more information can be found on the PA Department of Education’s website. 

Additionally, the Pa. Training and Technical Assistance Network has a document developed by the Bureau of Special Education which provides more detail, including an eligibility checklist and a Q&A section.

SECOND – Consider your options

So, once ESY eligibility has been determined, the next step is to consider the options that best provide the Free Appropriate Public Education to your child. This could be done within programs offered at the resident school or it could be those provided by another organization/agency – such as Approved Private Schools or Private Schools. As you consider options available to you, some of the below may be helpful to think about/gain additional information so you can select the option that will have the most impact on your student.

Your Questions – Answered for Pathway’s 2022 ESY Program

  • How many weeks is programming offered?
    A program that is too short or too long, could interfere with a successful summer. The Pathway School’s 6-week program has been successful in providing the time needed to keep academic, social/emotional, and behavioral skills fresh while still allowing some time off that kids want and deserve.
  • What are the start and end dates, and how do they align with a desire to balance good programming with some much deserved/needed time off to be ready for the start of a new school year?
    Some ESY programs start almost immediately after the school year ends, which doesn’t allow kids time to decompress from the rigor they have been under for the last 10 months. The Pathway School ESY program starts after the 4th of July holiday, giving a 2-week break at the end of the school year, and allows another several weeks before the new school year begins, so kids can enjoy some summer with their family!
  • How many days a week is programming provided? If programming is not offered every day of the week, do you need to consider alternate options that align with potential parent work schedules?
    The Pathway School offers programming to students every weekday for the entire 6-week program.
  • What are the hours of the program – is it a full day or half-day program. If half-days, do you need to consider alternate options that align with potential parent work schedules?
    Although part-time programs can allow students some additional summer fun time, in some cases, this is at the expense of some quality support in social/emotional and behavioral skill maintenance – which is also vital for students to be able to access their education. The Pathway School offers a full-day (9:00 am – 3:00 pm) program to support students in multiple skill-building areas on a consistent basis.
  • How will Extended School Year Goals be addressed and met?
    It is important that the IEP team determine which goals will continue to be addressed during ESY. Parents will want to provide input on what they would like to see occur and work collaboratively with the team to be sure a responsible, balanced decision is reached.
  • Will the program provide academic as well as social/emotional and behavioral skill-building that is needed, or is it focused on academic skills?
    A program solely focused on reading and math could leave some holes in what is needed. The Pathway School provides social/emotional instruction in both structured format and through in-the-moment learning to support acquisition of skills.
  • How will the program provide the opportunity for your child to generalize the skills being taught?
    Structured lessons are invaluable to help teach a skill, but just as important is the opportunity to see how students apply this to their life. By allowing students opportunities to practice academic, social/emotional, and behavioral skills during high-interest activities, The Pathway School team is able to see when skills are being applied and when further instruction may be necessary.
  • What is the skill level of the professionals providing the services? Do they have special education training/background? Do they understand the diagnosis and have the skills to capitalize on the strengths and support the needs of your child?
    Many Extended School Year programs have professionals with a high skill set in these areas. If you are considering a summer camp option instead of an ESY program, I encourage you to find out more about the staff who will be directly supporting your child to be sure they understand the nuances of special education and will be able to provide the support and compassion your child needs. The Pathway School’s ESY staff do have the requisite skills to support your child’s strengths and needs.
  • How will fun be incorporated into the day? After all, it is summer and summer means fun!
    Fun is vital to help students recover from a rigor of a strenuous school year and be emotionally ready to walk into a new school year in the fall. The Pathway School has found a way to balance the skill maintenance activities with engaging and exciting opportunities for kids to be involved in areas of interest including outdoor activities such as hiking, cooking, creative arts, including sewing and drama; these and many more opportunities add to the daily fun.
  • What is the cost of the program?
    You want your child to have the best – of course, you do, but the reality is that financial responsibility does play a role in decision-making in most cases. For students who are eligible for Extended School Year, the school that is educationally responsible will pay costs for an approved Extended School Year programming.
  • Is there transportation provided?
    The best program can only be available if you can get there – so distance and transportation information is also a factor to consider. Like cost, for students who are eligible for Extended School Year, the educationally responsible school is also responsible to provide transportation to and from the approved Extended School Year location.

Selecting a summer option for your child can be both exciting and exhausting. If you are not sure how to get started or would like more information about how Pathway can support your child, we would be excited to speak with you.

Contact one of our dedicated Admissions professionals at 610-277-0660 and select option 5 to reach the Admissions Department OR email us at

Visit our website for more information about ESY, our school year services, and much more: