summer 2022

Summer Reading Ideas

By | NESCA Notes 2022

By: Alissa Talamo, PhD
Pediatric Neuropsychologist, NESCA

Research demonstrates that children lose reading skills over the summer break. A 2020 study found that students in 3rd to 5th grades lost, on average, about 20 percent of their school-year gains in reading during the summer. So, how do we encourage a reluctant reader to read during the summer? There are several fun opportunities that allow your child to read a book of their choice and earn prizes at the same time!

For example:

www.scholastic.com/site/summer-reading.html Scholastic Books offers a program that encourages children to “read books and stories; attend author events; interact with their favorite characters; play book-based games and activities; join dance parties; and more!” Children can read any book of their choice. They can also download and print a report of their reading progress. Additionally, by keeping Reading Streaks™, your child will help unlock a donation of 100,000 books from Scholastic to Save the Children, providing books to children in rural America with limited or no access to books.

Bookworm Wednesdays | Showcase Cinemas According to their website, Bookworm Wednesdays is “A fun and rewarding summer reading program developed to encourage young children to read during the summer months.” Bookworm Wednesdays allows children to earn free movie admission to a select children’s film when they present a book report at a participating Cinema de Lux, Showcase, or Multiplex Cinemas box office. There are several local participating sites, including Patriot Place and Legacy Place. (Parents, as well as children under the age of 6, receive free admission and do not need to submit a book report).

www.barnesandnobleinc.com This is an opportunity for your child to earn free books! Your child can read any 8 books and complete the reading journal available at the Barnes & Noble website. Then your child brings the completed reading journal to any participating Barnes & Noble bookstore and chooses their free book from the books listed on the Reading Journal list (see the website for the list of titles available to choose from this summer). Free reward books must be collected from a local Barnes & Noble store during July and August.

Finally, check out your local library for programs! Most local libraries have reading incentive programs that children can participate in all summer long.

Other ideas include…

  • Have your child read a book that has been made into a movie (If the book is above their reading level, read the book to them or allow them to listen to the book as an audio recording). Once the child has completed their reading, enjoy a family movie night with popcorn and more.
  • Have your child read about a specific topic or place and then plan a field trip. For example, an older student could read “Little Women” and then visit Louisa May Alcott’s house in Concord, MA, or watch the 2019 version of the movie and then visit Lyman Estate in Waltham where some of the filming took place!
  • Allow your child to pick their own books. Allow them to choose from subjects of interest to them (parent-approved, of course), as they are more likely to read something they picked! Also, allow them to choose books from different book types (e.g., paperback, graphic novel, audiobooks).
  • If you are going on a family vacation, encourage your child to read books about the area (fact or fiction) and plan to visit some of the places mentioned in the book. Day trips are also encouraged. Your child could read a book about animals and then visit a local zoo or aquarium.

If you are unsure of which books are at your child’s reading level, many libraries break down books by grade level. Ultimately, summer reading should not be so easy that it is boring, but it also should not be too difficult, as that can cause frustration. Allowing children to pick out books at their independent reading level is best. Research has found that children read more and learn best when they are allowed to select the books they read.

Happy Summer Reading!


About the Author

With NESCA since its inception in 2007, Dr. Talamo had previously practiced for many years as a child and adolescent clinical psychologist before completing postdoctoral re-training in pediatric neuropsychology at the Children’s Evaluation Center.

After receiving her undergraduate degree from Columbia University, Dr. Talamo earned her doctorate in clinical health psychology from Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University.

She has given a number of presentations, most recently on “How to Recognize a Struggling Reader,” “Supporting Students with Working Memory Limitations,” (with Bonnie Singer, Ph.D., CCC-SLP of Architects for Learning), and “Executive Function in Elementary and Middle School Students.”

Dr. Talamo specializes in working with children and adolescents with language-based learning disabilities including dyslexia, attentional disorders, and emotional issues. She is also interested in working with highly gifted children.

Her professional memberships include MAGE (Massachusetts Association for Gifted Education), IDA (International Dyslexia Association), MABIDA (the Massachusetts division of IDA) and MNS (the Massachusetts Neuropsychological Society).

She is the mother of one teenage girl.


To book a consultation with Dr. Talamo or one of our many other expert neuropsychologists, complete NESCA’s online intake form.

Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA) is a pediatric neuropsychology practice and integrative treatment center with offices in Newton, Massachusetts, Plainville, Massachusetts, and Londonderry, New Hampshire, serving clients from preschool through young adulthood and their families. For more information, please email info@nesca-newton.com or call 617-658-9800.

Executive Function: Skill Building and Maintenance over the Summer

By | NESCA Notes 2022

By: Sophie Bellenis, OTD, OTR/L
Occupational Therapist; Real-life Skills Program Manager and Coach, NESCA

With summer right around the corner, many students are thinking of warm evenings outside, days at the beach, pool or park, summer camps, and summer jobs. For parents, summer can sometimes feel like both a time of fun and a time of struggling to keep up with skills mastered and learned throughout the past school year, all while acclimating to a completely new summer routine. While some students receive summer services to keep up with important academic and executive function skills, there are absolutely ways for us to help support children and adolescents at home. Consider these three ways to incorporate executive function skill building into your child’s summer.

  1. Plan and Complete a Project – Work with your child to brainstorm a project that they would like to complete this summer. Some examples include having a lemonade stand, building a tree fort, doing a full bedroom makeover, or raising money for a cause they care about. Help your child figure out how to put together a plan to complete their goal. This will likely include a timeline complete with a comprehensive “To Do List,” a list of materials or supplies, and a list of people they may need to ask for help. The more intentional the planning of these steps is, the more a child will internalize the level of planning and prioritization that goes into accomplishing such a goal. You may need to jump in to help, but take every opportunity to defer to them and let them actively think things through before making suggestions or solving problems for them. Planning and executing a personal summer project helps to build organization, planning and prioritizing, flexible thinking, working memory, and task initiation.
  2. Organize a Family Outing – Summer can absolutely be a whirlwind, but reserve a day in the calendar for your child to plan a family outing or activity. This could be as big as a full day at the beach or as simple as a trip to lunch at their favorite restaurant. Help them think through everything that will be needed. What time will we leave? How long will it take to get there? How can you find that information? Should we check Google Maps together? How will we pay for the meal? By guiding your child through all of the steps before these activities, you help them recognize the level of planning and forethought that is necessary. For older children or adolescents, consider giving them a budget and asking them to plan a family outing independently, taking into account each family member’s preferences and schedules.
  3. Add a Weekly Task – During the school year, parents often do not have time to add chores or anything new at all to their child’s calendar. Dinners are often prepared and eaten on the fly between rehearsals, appointments, practices, and homework, and laundry gets done when someone has a free moment. Summer can be a great time of the year to add in an expectation for students who have been a bit overloaded with homework or other distractions. Consider adding a weekly task that student both need to complete and figuring out a way to remember (often a digital reminder!). One of my favorite options is to have a student cook a meal for the family one night per week. Have them set an alarm for 12pm that day, or even the day before, that prompts them to “figure out the plan for dinner.” This may look drastically different at various ages. An eight-year-old may be very proud of themselves for serving boxed macaroni and cheese (made with supervision), while a high school student may be up for trying to recreate a family recipe. The goal is not a gourmet Tuesday night meal, but practice with prior planning, sequencing, following directions, and building time management skills.

Incorporating children and adolescents into the planning, hard work, and many executive function tasks that go in to making a summer run smoothly allows them to build skills naturally. By handing down responsibility and increasing expectations bit by bit, we can allow our students to build their skills slowly and confidently. It’s important that students realize all of these many steps before they are expected to do everything on their own. Often, allowing children to feel this level of control and responsibility leads them to feel quite accomplished and proud of themselves! If you feel that facilitating this may be tricky, consider reaching out about executive function coaching, as all of these strategies can be practiced one-on-one with a coach!


About the Author
Sophie Bellenis is a Licensed Occupational Therapist in Massachusetts, specializing in educational OT and functional life skills development. Bellenis joined NESCA in the fall of 2017 to offer community-based skills coaching services as a part of the Real-life Skills Program within NESCA’s Transition Services team. Bellenis graduated from the MGH Institute of Health Professions with a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy, with a focus on pediatrics and international program evaluation. She is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association, as well as the World Federation of Occupational Therapists. Having spent years delivering direct services at the elementary, middle school and high school levels, Bellenis has extensive background with school-based occupational therapy services.  She believes that individual sensory needs and visual skills must be taken into account to create comprehensive educational programming.


To book an appointment or to learn more about NESCA’s Executive Function Coaching Services, please fill out our online Intake Form, email info@nesca-newton.com or call 617-658-9800.


Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA) is a pediatric neuropsychology practice and integrative treatment center with offices in Newton, Massachusetts, Plainville, Massachusetts, and Londonderry, New Hampshire, serving clients from preschool through young adulthood and their families. For more information, please email info@nesca-newton.com or call 617-658-9800.