When the last day of school reaches its end, students flee from their classrooms filled with glee – and the promise not to see a book until the fall. We call it summer break, but it need not be a break from thinking. The mind, luck the muscles in the body, need continual work and conditioning to avoid atrophy – even if you are just a kid.
Students who take a mental summer off return to school with significant disadvantages. They forget how to do math they learned only a few months ago. They read at a much slower pace and with less immediate comprehension. They take longer to get into the groove of school and can find their grades even slumping early. And they find themselves less prepared for standardized testing.
Students need not be in school year-round; a summer break helps students pursue a variety of important interests not related to academics – but not all of them need be educational-free.
Summer school used to be a scary phrase, and for some still seems that way. It usually meant you tanked a class and need to retake it. But summer school can also be a great opportunity to get ahead of the game – take PE or some other required class that you might want to move off your fall schedule so you can make room for more classes you want or need to take. Public schools make summer school unbelievably affordable, and students should definitely consider using that to their advantage, no matter whether you are an average student or a high-achieving student.
We like to think of summer as a time to take stock of where you are academically and use the time to build for the next year. If you struggled with a particular subject, taking time to review and refresh would be very valuable, especially in math or English where you will need these skills to build going forward. If you had trouble staying organized, summer offers a time to learn how to become better at managing your time and expanding your study skills. If you had trouble with reading or writing, small clinics that focus on fundamentals can boost overall performance.
If you are a sophomore heading into junior year, summer is a great time to begin preparing for the rush of standardized tests (PSAT, ACT, SAT) you will face in the months ahead. If you are an athlete and squeezed for time, using the summer to get some test prep in will put you in a much better position for testing when it counts.
Bottom line – do not let your brain grow fallow over the summer. Even if you do not end up in some formal learning environment, you can take it upon yourself to read – grab some books at the library on a topic you enjoy. Form a book club with friends. Read magazine articles regularly. Try keeping a journal and challenge yourself to write once a week. Grab a crossword puzzle or sudoku. Find some summer math packets to keep your math skills fresh. If you spend just a half hour to an hour a week on math, you will be so far ahead when you start school. And if you read for three hours a week, you will see no lag when you begin English – you might even be a bit ahead!
At Mackler, we offer programs over the summer that fit with all of these needs. If you need to retake classes or have summer school for other reasons, we offer subject matter tutoring. If you want to start preparing for the PSAT or ACT, we have prep courses that are individual, one-on-one St. Louis tutoring. If you want to learn organizational and study skills or become a better writer, we have St. Louis tutoring sessions for that as well.
You can have a great summer – and still keep your wits about you for fall!