As the school year winds down, the freedom of lazy summer days beckon. Weeks - perhaps months - on end to laze and play and generally take a break from the acadamic pressure of the school year. But a total break isn't always appropriate for every child. For some kids, summer break can really mean a loss of progress on essential skills. While many groan and moan at the prospect of "summer school" in whatever form in might take, keeping up or catching up during summer break can be essential to overall academic success.
As school districts around the country consider ways to address the "learning loss" that happens for almost all students during summer break, some districts have implemented year-round school. While this is one appoach, it's not always feasible. As such, it's important for parents to recognize their children's needs and respond appropriately during the summer vacation months.
Keeping up or catching up
Not all kids need summer enrichment, but many could use some skill maintentence. Others really need this time to catch up. If your child is in the later category, you've likely had conversations with your child's teacher and/or school about needs and possible approaches.
Regardless of why you are doing it, there are many ways to address summer enrichment. Perhaps the easiest way (though less concrete) is my maintaining certain routines of the academic year. If Tuesday is library day in your house, maintain that during the summer. If you require your child do some work on an educational software application before using video games, maintain that rule, as well. Just as you do during the school year, look for and take advantage of teaching opportunities.
Classes, or tutoring
If your child needs something a little more formal there are options in classes and tutoring. Some school districts offer formal summer school while others offer classes and programs in a more fun vein. Learning, but in the guise of something less obvious. Other community organizations may offer classes in completely different topics that support knowledge maintenance, but in less obvious ways. For example, a class on exploring tidepools brings together science and math and possibly social studies, but your child may never know it because they are having too much fun.
If one-on-one tutoring is what you need, teachers and college students often offer a wide range of services to meet indivual needs. You can ask your child's school for references, or ask friends and neighbors. A good tutor with tailor the teaching and interaction to your child's learning style and needs, and hopefully boost confidence along with skills.
To protect the free feeling of the summer, how you time classes, tutoring or other enrichment activities can make a difference. Scheduling learning time for first thing in the morning leaves an afternoon to embrace that fee feeling. And who wants to go sit at the computer after a day of playing on the beach?
Summer - and a break from school in general - is great for relaxing and regrouping, but don't let it be a time of learning loss. With strategic planning, you can keep you child up-to-date on his or her skills, or even catch them up while still enjoying the season and the feeling of summer vacation.
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