Summer School is Not the Only Place to Learn

February 12th, 2013 posted by Dr. Raymond J. and Eileen Huntington

If your child finished this school year with a good report card and a promotion to the next grade, summer school may be the farthest thing from your mind. This is particularly true if your local school or school district limits its summer offerings to those needing remedial work, as opposed to courses to help high achievers get ahead. But summertime should not become a total vacation from learning. For many students, in fact, it can be a wonderful time for independent studies and projects that tap into your child’s aptitudes and interests to build valuable academic skills. Freed from the rigorous schedule of a typical school day, your son or daughter can spend more time on subjects that are naturally appealing and important for success in the coming year.

// Scientifically-minded students, for example, can find many exciting science projects through books at their local library and through Web sites that specialize in sharing this type of information. One of the most comprehensive is offered by The Discovery Channel . Here, you’ll find a variety of science experiments and projects, along with interesting tip sheets on topics such as astronomy, chemistry and earth science. Also included are guides with hundreds of science fair projects that can build real brain power while preparing your son or daughter for science fair competitions during the coming year. Other good science learning sights include the “Kidspace” section of the Internet Public Library site , which offers an online Science Fair Resource Guide, and the “Kinetic City ” section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which offers students a fun and educational animated online journey with games, riddles and experiments which help young people “save the universe.” If your child is an avid reader, you should take full advantage of your local library and consider asking the school librarian for a special summer reading list with books that match your son or daughter’s interests. You can also turn to the Internet for several additional recommendations, including lists created by the American Library Association and the Young Adult Library Services Association . Be sure to also take a look at both the reading tips and reading lists offered by the National Education Association (NEA) through its “Read Across America” program, which is reached through the “Parents and Community” link on the NEA Web site . If there are other children in your community who enjoy reading, you should also consider establishing a children’s book club. These can be very similar to book clubs created for adults, with children selecting books they want to read and then discussing the stories, the characters and even the issues and themes that are often raised by literature written for children. Students who enjoy mathematics can test and strengthen their skills through Figure This! . Created by The National Science Foundation in partnership with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, this initiative features engaging mathematics challenges that are designed to be completed by children and families together. Using colorful animated characters and extensive “real-world” applications of mathematics, the Figure This! challenges reinforce standards-based learning in algebra, geometry, measurement, data analysis and probability. While they tend to be “fun,” they’re also an effective primer for the rigorous mathematics that most students will be required to master in school. For learning projects on a variety of subjects, you can take a look at the “Summer Learning Calendar” offered by the American Federation of Teachers . While discovering the wealth of free resources available can be a fun independent learning project in itself, you should also turn to teachers and guidance counselors for recommendations on engaging educational activities to enrich the summer months. After spending an entire school year with your child, these educators should be familiar with your son or daughter’s aptitudes and needs. They should also be quite impressed to see you and your child looking together at new learning activities to prepare for the challenges and opportunities of the year to come.

Dr. Raymond J. and Eileen Huntington (12 Posts)

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