May 15, 2018
Summer vacation is a perfect opportunity for students to catch up on problem subjects and learn new skills – while making time to enjoy a couple months’ rest out of school.
Summer is around the corner – meaning relief for millions of school kids looking forward to a couple months out of the classroom. But it’s also a cause for concern for many parents and educators. After all, they reason, should a year’s worth of learning be put at risk for some R&R?
The answer depends on the student and how parents structure their summer vacations.
There are some great reasons to consider summer school, where your child can:
Focus on problem subjects. If your child failed a subject during the school year, summer school is an opportunity to take the subject over again. Unlike the regular school year, with its packed schedule of classes and activities, your child can focus on their problem subject in smaller classes in a more relaxed environment.
Benefit from continued learning. Some experts fear that students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds (for example, from a lower socioeconomic status) risk falling behind during the summer break, without activities that strengthen and build upon their school learning. Taking a summer school class or two can fill in the gap.
Prepare for the school year. Whether it’s retaking a class or satisfying a required subject ahead of the new school year, summer school can give your child an academic edge – and less stress come August/September.
Enrolling in summer school depends on the school district. If you (or your child) think summer school is the way to go, inquire at your school about summer offerings and any paperwork or fees that might be involved.
The flip side, of course, is that not everyone needs, or would benefit from summer school.
“Kids need time just to play around, to be creative, to be bored, to reflect, to figure out who they are and what they're interested in,” says Professor Carolyn Shields of Wayne State University in Detroit. Shields and other education experts advocate giving children unstructured time – including playing sports, or visiting museums and other attractions – that can be instructive as well.
What unstructured time doesn’t mean is doing nothing. Instead, parents should find a healthy balance between scheduling time for their child to learn with time to unwind and explore.
Fortunately, summer school is only one option to boost your child’s learning over the holidays. Parents can also:
Consider a camp-based program. Learn a new language. Play a new sport. Indulge in your inner science nerd. A strong summer camp program can include hands-on learning in a number of activities in science, creative writing, sports, and more, offering field trips, playtime, and opportunities for your child to pick a new skill or interest outside of the school environment.
Hire a private tutor. Fit some learning into your child’s summer vacation when and where you want – that’s the sort of flexibility tutoring offers parents. Tutors can help in a variety of ways, from reinforcing your child’s past learning to preparing them for next year’s subjects and those all-too-important standardized tests.
For your older children and teens, it’s important to gauge their interest in planning out summer activities, too. Talk about the pros and cons of going to summer school, or whether they’d benefit instead from a summer camp or private tutoring.
So, start planning your young scholar’s summer – focusing on what’s best for them and their academic future, be it summer school or a camp, or finding a balance between studies and what your child wants to do. (And for those looking for inspiration, the upshot of all that summertime freedom is there are numerous ways to make it work for you.)