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Engaging summer activities for students

cartoon of Family reading outsideFamilies across the nation are having to reimagine their summertime activities because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But within San Antonio ISD, fun family bonding is still happening as a result of interactive activities the staff from the Special Education Department developed for all students and their families across the District. 

“The Summer Emotional Learning for Families (S.E.L.F). program is for all students because when we learn together, we grow together,” said Jeanette Henderson, behavior implementation specialist. “Learning from each other’s differences gives us a chance to see our similarities. Our sessions include diverse groups of students – there are gifted and talented kids and kids with autism all interacting together. Looking at the Zoom screen, all the kids are wiggling and smiling. No one would ever be able to single out a student with a disability.” 




Special Session:
July 31 at 2 p.m.

Additional session on July 31, 2020, at 2 p.m. with Bonham Academy Principal Mr. David! Come join us as Mr. David he shares how plants and nature have helped him with stress relief and wellness. He’s going to talk about plants in the home, plant care, and how he manages his stress.
Passcode: SELF



During the month of July, the S.E.L.F. team is holding daily, live Zoom sessions for the whole family with activities including read-a-louds, virtual lunch times, and improv. In addition to the live programing, the S.E.L.F team has developed a variety of challenges and activities that students and their families can participate in their own timeframe. 

Barbie Parham, director with SAISD Special Education, said that her team knew at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that there would be a greater need to support not only students but their families as well during the school year and into the summer.

“Since students and many parents have been home since March, a team of the District’s behavior implementation specialists wanted to ensure families were not further isolated during the summer,” said  Parham. “They wanted to provide interactive sessions that would not only keep families connected to each other, but that also allow them to grow as a family in their social and emotional development.”

S.E.L.F. Live was developed to ensure that all students and their parents would have access to the same programs with follow up activities in which all families can engage. Rather than a “special education” or a “general education” focus, S.E.L.F. Live strives to be an inclusive program for all families to help foster positive self-esteem, family cohesiveness, and safe activities that promote the development and enhancement of strong social and emotional learning to help students be successful in school and in the community.

“Our Go Live! and Movement Challenges give our students experiences that many of them don’t necessarily have access to now because of COVID, or because of financial hardships,” said Heather Guerrero, instructional specialist and mastermind of the S.E.L.F program. “Kids can experience a horseback ride or kayaking or cooking with a professional chef. Not only are these activities a great way to expand students’ minds, they give them a window into a possible career path in their future.”

Improv photoAdditionally, activities provide students and families opportunities to engage with others during the summer break, multiple strategies for learning to identify feelings and ways to manage feelings in a healthy and safe way, and the chance for families to come together in a safe and structured space.

During a recent live Zoom nighttime read-a-loud event, 12 student participants and their parents were all cuddled up in self-made blanket and pillow forts. Some of the students held flashlights under their chins as if they were preparing to tell stories around a campfire. Guerrero and Henderson had a natural rapport with each of the students, even though there were a number of first-time participants.

Guerrero read a colorfully illustrated children’s book, peppering in questions to the students and their families throughout. After the reading, Guerrero and Henderson lead a conversation about the book and then directed parents to a website featuring activities based on the book, specially developed by the SAISD team.

Bright and early the next morning, Guerrero and Henderson were at it again, reading to a group of students during a daytime story session.

“This book is so funnnnnny,” giggles one participant as he laughed at the illustrations in the book The Nonsense Show.  

It’s those smiles and laughs that encourage the team of parents, students, community members and various SAISD employees who have volunteered their time to make the S.E.L.F. program successful. The team includes Heather Guerrero, initiative Lead Behavior Implementation Specialist (BISP); Jeanette Henderson, BISP; Arlene Escamilla, BISP; Shreve Maranto, BISP; Kevin Howell, BISP; Ignacio Valdez, coordinator; and Jennifer Loftin, Alternate Curriculum Environment teacher.



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