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A Summer School Program: Does Your Teen Need One?

As each school year comes to a close in the spring, most parents of teens experience mixed feelings about the upcoming summer months. There is usually some little voice back there somewhere wondering if some kind of summer school program should be considered. But parents also want to enjoy some relief from the constant battle to make sure homework is done, grades are good, and all is well in the academic world.

Eventually, most parents come to realize that the looming summer vacation from school should be more than just ‘fun in the sun’ for teens. Statistics show that the summer months are a more dangerous time for teens with regard to drugs, alcohol, and getting in trouble. And those same statistics tell us that a significant amount of learning is lost if teens don’t stay mentally active.

Did you know that when school starts back in the fall each year, teachers typically spend up to six weeks teaching lessons that were taught the previous year? It’s true, and it happens because of a phenomenon known as the “summer brain drain” or the “summer slide.” Those terms refer to the loss of learning that students suffer during the summer due to not participating in educational activities.

Suffice it to say that a good amount of research has been done on this loss of learning that occurs during the hiatus from school. Some sources say that students average 2.6 months of math learning loss over the summer. That equals almost one third of the school year! A slightly lesser amount of reading loss occurs. As a teacher of high school mathematics for many years, I can attest to the reality of these statistics.

What’s the best solution that a parent can offer in helping their teen stay educationally “fit” during the summer months? Start by making the decision to promote some kind of learning, whether it is a structured summer school program or something a bit more relaxed.

While taking a summer class or two in a good school sponsored program is an excellent way to exercise the brain, learning can also occur by utilizing other local resources such as museums, the zoo, and the library. Keeping a journal about some of these types of activities will utilize important writing skills. Some informal tutoring sessions in an identified weak area might be considered. Reading is vitally important to all disciplines and should be highly encouraged during the summer. Any reading that a teen does during this time will be extremely beneficial in battling the “brain drain.”

So does your teen need a summer learning program? The answer is definitely yes, but as I’ve pointed out, the nature of the program can take many forms. The most important thing is to incorporate some learning into your teen’s summer schedule. Anything that keeps that bright young mind active, thinking, and engaged will reap big rewards when school resumes in the fall.

Submitted by:

Linda Hinkle

Linda Hinkle is an educator and advocate for parents of high school students. Learn more about how to keep your teen safe, active, and engaged during the summer by visiting http://www.parentsguidetohighschool.com/Teen_Summer.html




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