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  • Writer's pictureMeg Tanner

Keep Calm and Break for Summer

I had the privilege of facilitating a virtual parent support group today. Our ice breaker consisted of sharing our favorite childhood memories from summer. The common theme was wonderful memories like spending time in the country with a grandparent or hanging out in a relative's food shack at the beach.

We spent the first half of the workshop sharing victories and challenges from this school year. It was encouraging to hear how teachers, parents and students persevered in spite of struggles and obstacles. One parent shared that she had never screamed as much as she did at her kids this year, but she went on to share that as a result of this, her communication with her family has drastically improved. We all agreed that empathy and flexibility were keys to making it through this year in one piece or at least multiple pieces we could glue back together.

We took the second half of the time to discuss everyone's plans for how their kiddos will be spending the rest of their summer. Most mothers disclosed that they just wanted to relax and recoup from the long year. Some discussed spending the summer to read, travel, and spend time in the city. I am always a big fan of students having a real break especially considering many of them only have eight weeks off this summer, but I do think it can be an ideal time to incorporate some academic enrichment activities whether that be indirect or direct learning.

I recently began working with a young man in order to prepare him for 9th grade Algebra. In doing so I discovered that he had not yet learned all of his addition or multiplication facts along with other Pre-Algebra foundations. Yes, students can use fingers or calculators, but having these type things memorized can make a huge difference when learning new concepts. A student can accomplish this seemingly impossible task by taking just a few minutes a day of reviewing flashcards or even using dice and playing cards to practice.

Most middle school and high school students will be assigned summer reading. Rather than waiting until the last minute, you can work with your students to pace out the novels over the summer and use them to incorporate vocabulary, annotating practice, writing, etc. You can also search the novel name and "study guides" and find a variety of supplementary activities. For older students, the summer can be the perfect time to conduct some low key SAT or ACT prep.

In addition to direct learning, there are a variety of activities through which you can incorporate learning, e.g. have your student plant a garden and journal about progress or have your student pick an exhibit to explore and conduct research before visiting.

I think we were all reminded that it is often the simple things that mean the most to children and that our kiddos do not need extravagant trips or complicated educational opportunities to learn, develop and have a memorable summer.

If you are looking for one on one coaching, more ideas or an age appropriate summer bundle of activities, you can find details about my services at

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