Make the Most of Summer: How to Engage Your Kids in Their Summer Work & Stop Summer Learning Loss
Part 3: How to “Sell” Summer Academic Programs to Your Kids
Find the Right Fit
For students who need to work on their academic skills more intensely over the summer, a formalized program might be necessary and very beneficial. For these students, it is crucial that the summer work feel different from the regular school year, even though the skills being taught, learned and practiced may be similar. It can be hard to convince third graders (or moody teens!), already exhausted by a long and difficult school year, that academics over the summer will be good for them or fun, when all they want to do is relax and forget about school for awhile.
If your child needs a summer course in specific subjects, like reading, math or writing, look for a program that offers lots of hands-on experiences to teach the concepts. It is also important to make sure the class is small enough that your child will get plenty of individualized attention within the group setting. Sometimes the structure of the program helps make it more manageable. A half-day program or a combined full-day program, where academics are in the morning and more traditional camp activities are in the afternoon, can allow students to feel like they can still get some of that summer experience and enjoyment, while you know they are working on the skills they need. Rhode Island Tutorial & Educational Services Academic Summer Programs fit these criteria.
Ready, Set, Go!
When it comes to telling your child about attending a summer program, give yourselves some time before you dive in. Think about how you will present this before you speak with your child so you aren’t stressed out about it and transfer that stress to your child. Keep in mind the reasons you selected that program for your child and explain those reasons in the most constructive light you can. Be honest, but stay positive and supportive. Try to avoid overhyping or downplaying any one aspect of the program, while highlighting all the things about it your child might enjoy.
Don’t Call it “School” or “Camp”
One of the biggest mistakes parents can make, without meaning to, is calling summer academic programs “school” or “camp.” While academic skills may be the focus, the program offered should incorporate fun, hands-on, individualized, real-world applications of the skills to make it come alive and not feel like traditional hours of school. Once students actually feel the difference and realize learning can be fun and manageable, attending the program becomes a pleasure, not a chore.
On the other hand, if you call the program a “camp,” your child might be hopping mad when there isn’t swim time or lariat making or s’mores around a fire for snack break – your child’s expectations may not match up to yours and then you’ve got a battle on your hands. If you refer to it as a “program,” that differentiates it from regular school and more traditional summer camp. Explain to your child that you’ve found a great program that has lots of fun and creative ways to help him or her with math/reading/writing. If it is a half-day program, assure your child of something he or she can do the other half of the day that is of their choosing. This way, your child has a say in how the summer is shaped. That feeling of some control works much better for self-esteem and empowerment in the short- and long-term than a direct bribe, and you and your child will have a more stress-free summer, too!
Find and Keep the Balance
No matter what type of summer work your children need to do, you CAN manage it so it doesn’t become drudgery and take over your summer. Give your kids about a week to “decompress” from the school year, then sit down with summer assignments or recommendations for your children and plan out how to get the pieces done, while still leaving room for fun. If your child will be attending an academic summer program, make sure you talk with your child about that well before the program starts, so you can explain it in a supportive way and your child can ask questions, adjusting to including this program into the summer. Make sure you help your children see how doing something they might not be enthusiastic about can take a lot less time than the things they enjoy, if you plan properly and stick to that plan. When possible, use examples from your day to show how you get things you have to do done (and done well), so you can enjoy more time doing the things you want to together. With this type of action plan in place, summer can be both productive and fun for the whole family!
Highlighted Summer Academic Programs:
If your child needs intensive support with reading, writing or math, consider these hands-on, engaging, multisensory RITES academic programs this summer:
If you are looking to keep your child’s academic skills sharp over the summer months, theme-based Rocking Reading and Megahit Math will give your child lots of real-world applications and activities to cement and practice skills, while learning more deeply about the chosen topic. Past summers have focused on topics like hermit crabs and bubbles.