Summer Prep for Improving Grades this Upcoming School Year

Summer is a great time for youth to get some much-needed relaxation and down time. Unfortunately, although summer goes by too quickly, it is long enough for teens to experience learning losses when they don’t engage in educational activities. Research shows the following problems:

  • students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of summer vacation
  • students lose approximately 2.6 months of grade level equivalency in math skills over the summer months
  • the greatest areas of loss are in factual or procedural knowledge

If you have a teen that was struggling with their grades during the school year, they will be at a greater disadvantage after the vacation. So, what’s a parent to do? There are steps you can take over the summer to help high school students improve their grades:

  • Set aside 2 to 4 hours a week during the summer vacation to review academic work, especially the teen’s most difficult subjects.
  • Hire a tutor to prep them for an upcoming class. For example, if your teen struggled in Algebra I, then hire a tutor to meet with them weekly over the summer to prepare for Algebra II.
  • Some local community colleges offer courses for different subjects, exclusively for high school students.  Enroll your teen so they can get a leg up on the upcoming year.
  • Encourage your teen to make a habit of reading daily. They could read right before bed, which is an excellent habit to improve your child’s sleep. You could also propose to read the same book with them and then have a mini book club discussion, which will make it more interesting and help you gain insight into the way your teen thinks.
  • Encourage your teen to write in a journal or start a creative project over the summer.
  • Summer camps offer many programs, such as improving study skills, academics, preparing for SATs, and public speaking.

Of course, every teen is different and some may not be willing participants in “summer homework.” For youth who are not eager to formally work on their skills as suggested, try to engage them in activities or tasks that help them use their skills in math, reading, etc. For example, have them help build something where they can use measurement skills; buy them magazines that they enjoy to read; encourage them to plan a summer trip so they are using budgeting and mapping skills; etc. Taking part in ACT or SAT preparation classes, either online or in a classroom setting, may be something they see as valuable since they will likely need to take the tests during the school year.

Once school has started, don’t forget that, although it’s your teen’s job to achieve good grades, there are ways parents can help teens buckle down:

  • Stop extracurricular activities until grades improve. Although sports, part-time jobs, clubs and other activities are important to your child’s overall development, they are a privilege and can be a distraction. Stopping activities outside school can offer your teen the incentive to focus on his/her schoolwork.
  • Limit your teen’s media. Online messaging, social networking sites, and cell phones can all disrupt your teen’s homework and learning in school. Take these items away, or block him or her from the computer, until their grades are raised.
  • Sign your teen up for tutoring opportunities.

Finding ways to keep your teenager’s academic skills fresh over the summer vacation will significantly help your child be successful in the upcoming year.

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