Summer breaks are notorious for resulting in great tans and lost knowledge. While high school students can certainly read through the previous year’s school notes and practice skills, getting smarter over summer break is an excellent way to hit the ground running when school starts again in the fall.
While there is considerable debate over whether intelligence can be altered, learning new skills, developing creativity, and looking ahead are great ways to use summer breaks to your advantage.
Get a job
Summer jobs provide far more than pocket money. Having a job means developing valuable time management and people skills. Simply searching for a job is an important learning experience all by itself. Working at a job makes high school students smarter about why they are in school. Working 14 hours in a field or a factory makes school look a whole lot better!
Read a book. Read the daily paper. Read blogs. Read fan fiction. Read a magazine. Join a book club. Start you own book club! Make a point of reading each day. Reading stimulates the mind and reinforces good study habits. Depending upon the quality of what is being read, it can also increase vocabulary and strengthen an underlying sense of good grammar, both of which pay of in dividends in the classroom and on the job.
There are many different outlets to practice the craft of writing. Write emails and letters to family and friends. Connecting socially is always smart and it’s a good way to maintain mental health. Writing also helps develop clear thinking and communication skills. Writing daily in a journal is a wonderful way of practicing writing skills and journals make surprising mementos of youth, 20 or 30 years later. Many libraries and book sellers offer writers’ groups for aspiring authors. They are normally open to anyone and can be a good place to meet new friends.
Play is a valuable yet highly underrated outlet of human expression. Play inspires creativity, problem solving, body awareness, and stimulates new thought processes. Board games with family or friends can provide the added benefit of practicing math skills. A rough and tumble game of football or soccer builds physical health, social skills, and strategic thinking.
The fastest way to learn something is to try to teach it to someone else. Reinforcing what is already known by tutoring is a good way to learn new approaches and different solutions. Schools, community centers, and libraries often have bulletin boards where high school students can post ads as tutors. Tutoring can also bring in some extra cash and that is always smart.
If the next semester’s classes are already known, contact the teachers and ask if the books can be acquired early. If the books are unavailable but the subjects are known, a few trips to the local library or some time spent on the Internet can help build a solid knowledge base long before the first day of school. If the classes are unknown, then look even further ahead toward career possibilities. Professional associations are happy to provide learning suggestions and opportunities for the aspiring high school student.
Go to college
Most high school students are surprised to learn that they can take college classes before finishing high school. Community colleges offer a wide range of academic subjects and vocational skill coursework during the summer session. Community centers also offer a variety of classes that high school students can use to make themselves smarter during the summer break.
Simply going for a walk and actively observing what is going on around you can be a learning experience. Trips to the beach, a forest, or a museum can all add to what is known. Visit an old folks home or the local VA hospital and listen to the stories being told. Attend an art festival, a horse show, or live theater.
Getting smarter over summer break does not necessarily mean continuing what occurs in the classroom. It can mean expanding your world in any number of ways. The important thing is to pay attention and actively learn from each experience.