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Six Tips to Help Your Child Start the Summer Off Right

By Huntington Learning Center

The summer has arrived! You’re likely ready to celebrate finishing this COVID-interrupted year and start enjoying summer break with your kids. It’s tempting to rush forward into days with a bit less routine and a lot more sunshine, but the end of the school year and the first few weeks of summer are an important time. No matter how old your child is, making the start of summer productive sets the stage for a successful transition back to school in the fall.

Six Simple Ways to Kick Off a Successful Summer

Here is a list of six tips you can follow to help your child make the most out of summer by starting the break off right. These tips are useful for students who are in elementary school, middle school, or high school.

  1. Reflect on the 2021 School Year

    We thought (or at least hoped) we would return to a sense of normalcy during this school year, but we were immediately proven wrong. Juggling virtual, hybrid, and in-person learning for an entire school year created challenges for parents, teachers, and students. Not only did this create learning loss for students of all ages, but many students are also experiencing anxiety because of additional stressors created by the pandemic.

    As the summer begins, have an open discussion with your children about the 2020-2021 school year. Encourage your kids to reflect on what they struggled with, what they learned, and what they are worried about. Younger children may have a harder time with this process, but you can ask questions to get them thinking, such as the following:

    • What were you most excited to learn?
    • Did you make any new friends?
    • What moment made you laugh the most?
  2. Celebrate Accomplishments and Progress

    You and your child made it through an unprecedented school year! Yes, it’s important to identify what your kid needs to work on and develop a plan for next year, but it’s equally critical to acknowledge accomplishments. Celebrating your child’s success encourages progress and growth. In addition, kids might be missing out on traditional end-of-the-year parties and special events.

    Here are some ideas to celebrate the end of the school year and start of the summer:

    • Plan a special activity – whether it’s family movie night or a trip to the zoo, your kids will love to mark the end of the year with a celebration.
    • Have a safe gathering – giving middle schoolers and high schoolers the chance to get together outdoors with a small number of friends can be beneficial to their social lives and mental health.
    • Display your pride – purchase or create your own yard signs or use liquid chalk markers to write congratulatory messages on your car windows.
  3. Find Out Where Your Child Stands

    Many of the parents we speak to are worried they don’t know where their child stands academically. This is completely understandable after the challenges everyone faced during the 2020-2021 school year. Virtual and hybrid instruction combined with changes to end-of-year grading systems can make it difficult to know if your child is experiencing any skill gaps.

    It’s impossible to know what areas your children need to work on without first identifying their strengths and weaknesses. That’s why we begin all our programs at Huntington Learning Center with a full Academic Evaluation to pinpoint needs. The results of the Academic Evaluation allow us to develop a personalized learning plan and build success through individualized instruction. To learn more about how our proven method can help you determine where your child stands as you kickoff the summer, click here

  4. Set Goals for Next Year

    Once you have reflected on the school year, identified areas that need improvement, and celebrated accomplishments, it’s time to think ahead for next year. Creating goals for the 2021-2022 school year will help provide direction for summer learning.

    At Huntington, we always recommend following the SMART framework:

    • Specific: Make goals clear and try to answer the five “W” questions: who, what, when, where, and why
    • Measurable: Having goals that can be measured allows your child to stay motivated and track progress.
    • Achievable: Goals should be realistic and attainable so your child can feel confident and encouraged.
    • Relevant: Your child’s goals should align with their long-term academic plans.
    • Time-Bound: Set an ambitious but realistic target date so your child can prioritize and stay motivated.

    If you want to learn more about how to develop SMART goals, click here to view our free Huntington How-to webinar.

  5. Create a Summer Learning Plan

    Students’ academic progress can regress significantly during the summer months, which is referred to as the summer slide or summer learning loss. The summer slide is expected to be even more severe this year due to the pandemic. Creating a summer learning plan prevents your child from losing academic ground over the summer, and it can restore motivation and excitement about school. This is particularly important this year to build a strong foundation for what we hope to be a more normal school year in the fall.

    Depending on your child’s age, there are different advantages of a summer learning plan. Let’s look at the summer learning opportunities for each age group.

    • Elementary School: Building and reinforcing the skills needed to succeed in school over the summer can help elementary students catch up or get ahead. This includes focusing on reading, writing, phonics, math, and study skills.
    • Middle School: Summer is the perfect time to give your middle schooler an edge and get prepared for greater teacher demands, increased classroom difficulty, and expanded homework.
    • High School: Better grades in high school open the doors to more college opportunities. Your teen’s GPA is the #1 factor that colleges and universities consider on their application, and higher grades can mean more scholarships and financial aid. If your teen is struggling or wants to get better grades, the summer is a great time to get extra help. In addition, incoming sophomores, juniors, and seniors should use the summer to prep for the SAT or ACT.

    If you want to learn more about developing a summer learning program that can help your child build skills, confidence and motivation for the 2021-2022 school year, click here. You can also call 1-800 CAN LEARN to speak with one of our tutoring experts.

  6. Get Your Kids On-Board with the Plan

    It’s understandable that going into the summer children are focused only on water games, vacations and playdates with friends. Although those activities are certainly important, make sure your children understand why learning over the summer is beneficial to them – and how it can be fun too! Talk to your kids about the summer learning plan you’ve developed and explain how it will help prepare them for next year. Get their feedback on other learning activities they want to be part of their summer as well. You can ask questions such as “What is one new thing you’d like to learn over this summer?” And “Is there somewhere you’d like to go on a day trip this summer to learn about something you enjoy?”

Helping your child to make the summer count will go a long way when it’s time to return to school. By following these tips, your kid will be on the way towards thriving in the 2021-2022 school year! Do you have any other tips to share with fellow parents about helping children start the summer off right? Join the conversations on the Huntington Learning Center Facebook or Instagram pages.