Summer is the season when kids get to enjoy their days outside of the classroom. But studies have shown that growing brains still need a certain environment during the academic break to keep developing and learning. Here are our strategies for avoiding the summer “brain drain” and set your child up for success over the summer break.
Step One: Words Matter
Always congratulate your child for completing another academic year. From kindergarten to college, students should be recognized for sticking with it, and making it to the next year.
For the memorable academic years, like 8th grade and 12th grade, make sure you talk to your child about the school they are leaving behind, and what’s coming next. Even though the change from middle school to high school might seem like a breeze, most students do have some social anxiety and worries about new classes, new friends, and a new school.
Be positive, listen, and work through these concerns with your child. Get the conversation started to make the transition between schools easier.
Step Two: Organize Everything
Before too much time passes after school lets out for the summer, organize everything from the previous school year with your child. File any art projects, book reports, presentations, report cards or other tangible classroom takeaways.
Going through these materials soon after the school year ends will allow you to keep the important things, recycle materials that aren’t necessary, and will be a fun recap of the year to take together.
Are there any papers that will be important to keep handy for the next school year? Keep these close at hand for the fall semester, and archive everything else. Organizing materials from your classes like this allows you to take inventory of your student’s accomplishments, and relive the best moments of the year.
If a particular project or report seems to spark negative feelings in your student, take the time to learn why. You might not have known about the struggle to complete the project at the time, and this is a great opportunity to talk through it with your child. This can help to change a child’s perspective on a certain teacher or subject matter, and set them up for success in the coming semester.
Step Three: Read
Every student at Paraclete has a summer reading list to complete. We assign this long-term homework for three reasons:
- To prepare them for upcoming classes that require a base understanding, built from the books they are reading;
- To bring a common experience to the students, so they have a shared summer activity;
- To keep growing brains learning and thinking critically.
We also encourage students to read anything beyond the summer reading list. As students get older, they will find different genres and stories will hold their interest. Visit your local library for inspiration, and find a book to read this summer that isn’t required reading.
Step Four: Explore
If you can, plan a day this summer to go somewhere new. Whether you visit one of the great museums or historical sites around Lancaster, CA or take a day trip outside the Antelope Valley, you open the doors to new thoughts and discoveries for your child.
One common difficulty with teenagers can be the lack of enthusiasm for such trips. Stick with it. Remember that every eye roll and sigh is a sign of love from your teen, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Taking such day trips can be even more valuable for high school students. They can begin to connect years of lessons they have learned in school with the world around them when they explore someplace new.
Four steps to make summer a success
With only a few months before school starts up again, summer can pass quickly. Start the process now with your child to keep them engaged and learning outside of the classroom – even if they don’t realize it. Even if you aren’t able to achieve all four of our steps listed, achieving one or more can keep your child on the road to success during the summer months.