School’s Out But Don’t Check Out

summerEvery year I cannot wait for summer to start, and every year I am completely shocked when it comes to a close. I find myself wondering how three months slipped past me! As summer 2013 draws to an end and I start to regroup, thinking about schedules, alarm clocks, sports practices, and homework, I find myself thinking about how I can better prepare my children for their upcoming year.

Before we even realize it, teachers will be decorating classrooms for a brand new year, alarm clocks will be going off, and we will find ourselves hoping that the kids are ready for the challenges that lie ahead.

Most teachers and parents agree that three months off from all academic pursuits is too long. Students have trouble retaining all of the knowledge that they worked so hard for the year before. Most kids think that they have earned three months of video games, pool time, sleep overs, and vacations. Unfortunately, if we do not keep children engaged in a nice balance of fun and learning over the dog days of summer, they could find themselves struggling to get in the groove of the new school year.

Here are a few suggestions to supplement the much needed rest and relaxation of summer and help clear the cobwebs in order to be prepared for a new school year.
•    Check the school website. There is always useful information to help ease the transition back to school.
•    Look for required summer reading lists for middle school and high school students, as well as suggested reading lists. Help your child set a summer reading goal. Suggest that they email a friend with a book review.
•    Visit your local public library for story time and fun activities for the little ones as well as volunteer opportunities for the teenagers.
•    Check out local learning centers for summer offerings. Tutoring centers can really help give kids a boost in short sessions over the summer, and help keep their minds sharp.
•    Look into test-prep classes for sophomores and juniors who will need to take the SAT or ACT in the fall.
•    Try out foreign language software as a family.
•    Take advantage of local museums and historical sites.
•    Sports camps, cooking camps, craft camps, etc. are all great ways for kids to keep their minds and bodies active as well as give them the social interaction that they start to crave as soon as school gets out.
•    Get your children involved in managing and keeping up with the summer calendar of activities. Time management is an essential skill that we often forget to teach our kids. What better time than summer when there is less pressure.
•    Seek out a course on study skills. Organization, time management, and best practices for studying material are not usually taught in school. Summer is a good time to focus on those executive functions that will make the school year less difficult.

Above all, make learning fun and engaging for your children. Encourage them to research, explore, and learn about something that interests them. You can keep their brains active, and they will just think they are having a fun and relaxing summer!

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