The school year is coming to an end…how did it go? Many children and parents breathe a sigh of relief when summer arrives because the school year is such a struggle.
Time moves so fast with tests, different activities, field trips and homework. Summer is a chance to evaluate how the last year went and to be proactive in making next year even better. So what things can you do over the summer to make next year a little easier, a little smoother, and a little more positive for everyone?
1. Keep kids learning over the summer
Don’t let the 2 ½ months of summer take away all the gains that were made over this school year. Keeping your child’s brain engaged will make the transition into the next higher grade a little easier.
- Many classes read the same books each year so find out what you child will have to read next year and include those in your summer activity bag. Slower readers will do better with more time over the summer to read those books without the pressure of the classroom.
- Take a class or learn a new activity with your child. Check out summer camps that focus on academic learning rather than just sports.
- Help keep those basic skills fresh from multiplication tables to parts of speech. Check with teachers in the grade your child is headed into regarding the skills that are necessary to be successful and take time during the summer to keep those fresh.
- Check out more ways to fight the summer brain drain here.
2. Rejuvenate the study space
Summer is a time for remodeling, replanting the garden, re-staining the porch—and it is also a great time to look at how your home is set up for studying. As your child ages they need different requirements for where they study. While a 2nd grader might have been okay at an end of the dining table, a 3rd grader may be ready for a real desk or specific study space.
- Find a separate area (can be small but organized) that can be designated for schoolwork. This should be in a family area—not the child’s bedroom—where parents can be available for help, motivation, and monitoring.
- Use the summer to make the space ready for supplies with storage, furniture, and shelving. Back to school sales are great for pencils and markers, but having the area already set up for those supplies will cause less chaos once back to school time hits.
- Allow your child to personalize the space by coloring a divider to separate his spot from the rest of the family, picking out folders, or choosing a storage cubby matching his tastes.
3. Get your child a brain check up
If school was a struggle this year, or certain classes seemed much easier or harder than the past, it is likely time to have you child’s cognitive skills checked. Skills like memory, attention, and processing speed can make a huge impact on how well children do in school. Don’t just assume next year will get easier.
- Schedule a cognitive skills assessment to find any underlying skills that might be causing school to be more difficult than it should be. If memory is a weakness, learning multiplication tables is going to be very difficult, no matter how many times you practice them.
- If there are weaknesses, use the summer to enroll in a brain training program. LearningRx* specializes in evaluating cognitive skills and addressing weaknesses. Since programs like these take time to work, it is easier to fit into a summer schedule.
- Understanding how your child’s brain works will help you to keep an eye on his/her strengths and weaknesses in the upcoming year and give you insight on why she hates certain subjects or why he loves learning in certain ways.
4. Set goals for the next school year
While this year is fresh in your mind, sit down with your child and think about what went well and what goals you both have for next year. When that final report card comes home is a great time to evaluate how your child felt about the year, felt about their progress and what changes he or she wants to see in their next report card. Keep this a two-way discussion, not just a lecture on your part. Keep these tips in mind when making goals.
- Be positive and specific. Rather than “Don’t fail algebra,” set the goal, “Get a C in Algebra.”
- Be realistic. If you child has always struggled with math, setting a goal of an A might not be realistic.
- Make a step-by-step plan on what has to happen to make that C a reality.
- Set up rewards for following through on each step or set mini-goals along the way. A reward for completing each week’s math homework or for finding an algebra tutor will keep your child motivated and the goal in his mind, rather than just an end event nine months down the road.
After a tough school year we often just want to put it behind us and hope for better luck next time. But most school difficulties don’t solve themselves and will reoccur again next year. Using some of the downtime of summer to make changes that will be proactive in making next year better is time well spent. Next year doesn’t have to be a struggle—make it the best year yet!
*LearningRx has a location in Centennial and in Cherry Creek. Check out their website for cognitive skill assessment prices and more information at www.learningrx.com.