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As summer looms closer, teachers and students alike look forward to relaxing days filled with sunshine, swimming, and endless amounts of fun. But as the new school year approaches, many teachers find themselves wondering how much time they need to set aside in order to review what students learned last year. With this concern of reviewing material, teachers often think back to the end of the last school year. What if I encouraged my students to stay connected to learning throughout the summer? What if I gave them ways to stay engaged in curriculum and school work during their break?
We know that hindsight is always 20-20, and we also know that not all students will take the tips you give them and embrace learning throughout the summer. But for those students who do want to stay engaged with learning over break (or for those students whose parents force them to!), here are several suggestions you can offer students and parents so that they make the most of their summer and come back ready for the new school year.
There’s a reason so many schools and libraries have summer reading programs, and that’s because reading is good for everyone, regardless of the content being read. Kids can pick up comic books, sports magazines, novels, autobiographies, and the like. Any reading material they are willing to engage with will be beneficial. Encourage kids to set a goal of how many books they’re going to read before school starts again or have a competition with friends to see who can read the most pages by the end of summer.
Keep a Journal
Journaling is a great thing for people of all ages. Between jotting down ideas, being introspective, recording memories, and utilizing writing skills, journaling is nothing but beneficial for anyone who partakes in it. Encourage students to journal throughout the summer by setting journaling goals. Aim to fill up an entire notebook or write a certain number of times every week. Have them write about experiences or thoughts they have, or encourage them to write letters to people in their journal.
There are countless websites and apps that can help students practice skills they learned in school. From practicing math facts and exploring writing prompts, to investigating physics and watching historical videos, the internet is full of educational material that can keep students engaged all summer long. If you’re looking for a list of websites and apps to send home with your students, do an online search yourself or check out some other teachers’ lists on Pinterest or their blogs.
Go Over Old Notes
Some students might not be as keen to embrace this task as others, but looking over old notes from the past school year is a great way to refresh their knowledge over the summer. Students can relearn anything they’ve forgotten before they return to school in the fall, and can refresh their memories on other concepts that they need to know before entering the next grade. Encouraging students to hang onto old notes can also be beneficial as they then have access to information on some key concepts for future uses if necessary.
Stay in a Routine
Encourage students to stay in a routine throughout the summer and they will have a much easier time when school starts back in the fall. Encourage regular exercise, getting up at the same time each morning, spending some time reading or writing every day, and getting out of the house on a regular basis. Staying in a routine will make for a far more productive summer and will leave students feeling more accomplished and fulfilled.
If a student was struggling in any subject in school, encourage them to spend more time working on that subject area over the summer. This will not only help them be more prepared in the fall, but it will also give them a great sense of achievement. If students don’t have a subject of contention in school, maybe they want to fine-tune another skill or learn something new. From sports to arts to music and more, kids will be more motivated and encouraged when they spend their summer working towards something significant or that intrigues them.
When students volunteer to help others in impactful ways they tend to gain wisdom and maturity. Encourage students to find an organization that is meaningful to them and have them spend time helping out. Whether it’s feeding the homeless, helping young students with schoolwork, or volunteering at a summer camp, middle school and high school students will gain a lot from spending time volunteering over the summer.
While staying active isn’t necessarily going to help students get ahead in their education or fine-tune their literacy skills, it is an important part of living a healthy life. Being active can also contribute to better focus and more engagement in their daily tasks, including schoolwork. Kids who are more active therefore tend to do better in school.
Go to Camp
Whether it’s a sports camp, an arts camp, a science camp, or something else, camp is a great summer activity for students. It will engage their social skills, learning skills, and independence, which all contribute to more well-rounded individuals and better students. When students find camps that are interesting to them, they tend to become passionate about attending. That passion often then makes its way through the rest of their summer activities, which is nothing but beneficial.
Take Educational Trips
Educational trips and outings are also a great way to keep students engaged throughout the summer. Museums of all kinds, zoos, national parks, aquariums, libraries, and the like are all great places for students to spend time during their break. Each place encourages learning in a new and fun way, with students usually not even aware that they’re learning! Even a trip to the grocery store can become a lesson in budgeting and money management, so encourage students to get out of the house and enjoy some educational trips and outings all summer long.
Summer is a great time to rest and refresh, but learning loss is real and can make it hard for students to get back into the swing of things each fall. Send home fun lists with your students or send out emails to parents throughout the summer to encourage kids to partake in some fun and educational activities during their summer break. You, your students, and their parents will all be better and happier for it!