As the famous lyrics go, “Schools out for summer!” While this is true for many educators and students, school is very much on for teenagers taking summer school credits over the month of July. There are a variety of reasons students decide to enroll in summer school, from academic setbacks to striving to get ahead. Regardless of the motive, we want to set our children up for success, and this helps by understanding the structure and expectations of these compressed courses. Fortunately for us, Teachers on Call’s very own Principal Judy is a retired high school principal and is very knowledgeable on this topic. Read on to learn her eight tips on how to set teenagers up for summer school success!
Summer is here – and for some, that means summer school. Whether your student is retaking a class, upgrading their mark, or tackling a new subject, here are eight tips to help make the summer school experience more meaningful (and less stressful).
Focus on the Goal
Work with your student to establish their academic goal. Do they want to pass? Learn a new skill? Prepare for next year? Get a better mark? Knowing their goal is the first step to helping them achieve it. As well, have the conversation about focusing for four weeks to achieve the credit at the high school level (versus five months if they need to take the course next year – oftentimes, students forget to make this connection, so it is helpful to remind them) and that achieving the credit/mark at summer school will leave them room in their timetable for other courses they may be interested in taking during the school year.
Choose the Right Course
Make sure you and your student have chosen the correct course. If it is a retake – is it at the same level? If it is not available at the same level, are there supports your student can access to be successful? If it is a new course, do they have the prerequisites? Taking the time to review this information will save a lot of heartache.
Engage an In-person or Online Tutor
Summer school is a full year course packed into four weeks. What that means is that students will cover a full week’s curriculum every single day. Getting ahead – and staying ahead – is critical to their success. Engaging a tutor – who is fully versed in the curriculum – can help them stay ahead of the curve. Think about engaging a tutor now. If you wait a week, it is akin to waiting until October.
Just like the regular school year, know their teacher, know what they are doing and help encourage them to stay the course for July. Also, find out what supports are available to them to help them be successful. Are there Student Success teachers, Learning Resource teachers or guidance counselors available? How do you access those student supports? Those are good questions to ask.
Develop a Schedule
Oftentimes, summer is a time to let go of your schedule. Do not do this during summer school! Help your student keep a schedule for homework, make sure they are eating properly, and ensure they get enough sleep. Most summer schools have very strict attendance policies. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the policy. Help your student ensure that they do not miss any days of classes (remember, it is like missing a full week).
Create a Good Study/Workspace
Just as in the regular school year, having a dedicated study/workspace is important. It’s important for students to have a quiet space with strong lighting that is free from distractions. In my previous blog – 6 Ways to Improve your Child’s Grades – I cover this in greater detail. Although all points apply to summer school success in addition to the full academic school year.
Watch the Time
As I mentioned, each day is the equivalent of a full week during the regular school year. Watch your student early and often to make sure they are understanding and up to date in the class. Reach out to the teacher immediately if you have concerns. If you do not have an in-person or online tutor, consider getting one as soon as the first challenges appear.
Just because summer school is high stakes, and over a short time does not mean you should ignore the summer. Build in some “down” time for your student to be a teenager – plan walks in the evening or short excursions on the weekends, so they do not feel that school is all there is to July. Find ways to connect through physical activity or conversation to show your support for their efforts. Also, take the time to make some plans for early August – so they see the reward for their effort (beyond the grade) and they do not feel like they are losing out on summer. Remind them (and yourself!) that this is only for July – and that August can be devoted to fun.
At Teachers on Call, we are always here to help. On behalf of our in-person and online tutoring team, we wish all students success in their summer school courses and all the best for the remainder of the summer!
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