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Make Summer Learning Important

“No more teachers; no more books…” is a familiar summer chant on the last day of the school year. Almost three months without studies, so children can help with the summer planting on the farm, but does this make sense today?

Sure, it’s a great time for family vacations, doing things that are only offered in the summer months; being spontaneous, and playing outside all day long.

But what happens to the brain during that time period? Yes, it’s being used for other creative thinking and resting from the strains and stresses of the school curriculum.

Nevertheless, from my experience after more than 50 years as an educator, summer is an excellent time for formal learning, too.

  • Focus on the areas of weakness from the previous school year that have parents and students concerned. When my three children were in elementary grades, we rented a beach house in the summer. I set up a card table in the sand, and each day I conducted 90 minutes of “school.” They practiced math facts, wrote letters to family members, read books to each other, and played learning games. Since they had the rest of the day to play, no one complained, and I hope they thought it was kind of novel and cool.

  • In Middle School, before the school year officially begins, I insisted that each child read no less than one book per week. Libraries regularly conduct summer reading programs with wonderful rewards.

  • By the time they reach high school, students are expected to read to learn and write to communicate information, experiences, and feelings. So guess what I required weekly in return for the keys to the car?

Some parents aren’t comfortable or successful being a teacher to their children. It’s too fraught with emotion. That’s partly why we are grateful for tutors. All of the above can be accomplished with weekly tutoring.

All students lose ground during the summer, especially those with special needs. However, with summer tutoring much can be accomplished:

  • Review basic skills. The Common Core Standards do not include remediation. Students are given the grade’s curriculum to study. If they didn’t learn the prior year’s goals, well, we don’t teach those in the new grade. Parents want to make sure they have mastery.

  • Preview upcoming course – especially math. Any student with a weakness in math will absolutely benefit from instruction in the next math goals. This way, when they reach that material in class, it will be for the second time, and will be less confusing. The same may be said for science courses, grammar, and foreign language.

  • Accelerate. Bright students are often bored in traditional classes. Now is a great time to learn what interests them with a competent tutor, instead of what is dictated by the curriculum.

Summer may represent a change of pace, but it is not meant to interrupt learning, unless you own a farm and need some extra planters!

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