Surviving Summer School

The vast majority of American kids relish the summertime, mostly because they are free from school. A few, though, keep going to school. For kids and parents, this can be a hard road. As a teacher, I learned a lot from my summertime students about how to get a kid through class when he wants to be sleeping in a hammock. Here are a few helpful tips on surviving summer school.

First, make it easy for him to go to class. Don’t plan family vacations or activities that will cut into school time. Summer school is too short for your child to miss two or three days, and many schools automatically fail students who miss too many days. Likewise, it’s not a good idea to make your child choose between a fun activity with the family and staying home alone or with a sitter so he can attend class. If he goes with the family, he’ll do badly in school and if he goes to school, he’ll resent not being on a rollercoaster with the rest of you. It’s a lose-lose situation, so just don’t do it.

Second, help him. He needs just as much help to get his homework and projects done during the summer as he does during the school year, so read with him and check his math. If you are one of the many parents who have forgotten your Algebra and feel unqualified to help, make sure you supply emotional support. A PB&J and a glass of milk at the opportune moment has helped many students get through tough subjects.

Third, don’t punish. Chances are, your child doesn’t want to be in school when his buddies are at the beach. This is called a “natural consequence.” It doesn’t require a parent to do anything to make him realize that perhaps he should do better next year. He’s already suffering. He’ll learn his lesson just fine without you chewing him out for flunking History the first time around. Trust me on this.

Finally, plan fun things to do when school’s out. I have never known of a school district that didn’t have at least a week or two between summer school and the regular year. Use that time to the very best of your ability. Take a short trip. If you’d like, arrange an incentive program with your student and make the activities for that break a reward for doing well in summer school. A hoped-for trip to Disneyland can motivate many students to find scholastic reserves no one knew they had.