7 Ways to Get Your Kid Excited About Summer School

The phrase "summer school" may give your kid nightmares, but with an attitude like that, he'll turn summer school into a regular routine. How do you help your struggling student turn things around and get ready to tackle summer school like an all-star student? We asked Tracy L. Jackson, a school counseling district coordinator, for her expert advice.

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Summer School: A Second Chance to Succeed

By Keren Perles

So your struggling student has been “condemned” to summer school, and you want to make sure he makes the most of it. But what can you do to help? Tracy L. Jackson, school counseling district coordinator and creator of the Extraordinary School Counselor blog, offers some tips on how to prep your child for summer school.

Have a Positive Attitude

If you view summer school as a punishment or annoyance imposed by the school system, your child will view it the same way. “Look at summer school as a way of guaranteeing that children can reclaim and recover pertinent information that they struggled with during the school year,” Jackson says. That might mean reteaching concepts in math or science, or reviewing dates in history, grammar rules or foreign language vocabulary with your summer student.

Build Confidence

Convince your kid that he’s going to excel in summer school and be ready to tackle the next school year like a champion. “Letting children know that they are loved and intelligent despite this minor setback can assist with self-confidence,” says Jackson. “Encouragement is the best key with the struggling student.” Summer school is a fresh start, an opportunity his peers don’t have.

Look at the Big Picture

Ask your child what his goals and aspirations are. Does he have a career he may be interested in pursuing? If you can help him see how succeeding in school can actually benefit him, there’s a much better chance that he’ll view summer school as a stepping stone toward reaching his goals. Discuss the skills that he’ll need in order to achieve something he cares about.

Make it Less Intimidating

Sit down and talk about what your child thinks summer school will be like, and visit the school to tackle any fears he may have—especially if it's his first time going. He may be intimidated or heard unfounded rumors about summer school. “Students may look forward to the opportunity to meet new students, attend a different school if summer school is held at specific sites, experience new teachers and attend a shorter school day,” says Jackson.

Don't Cancel Vacation

No kid should feel like his fun summer will be lost because of summer school. Consider weekend trips close to home or some creative “staycations.” You may also be able to squeeze in a vacation before or after the summer session, depending on the schedule. Just keep in mind that summer school can be expensive, Jackson says, and budget accordingly.

Create Incentives

If you are skeptical about whether your summer student can stay motivated, you may want to institute a behavior incentive plan. For younger children, that might mean a sticker chart; for older children, weekly privileges can be contingent on the previous week’s successes in summer school.

Be Proactive

If your child is in summer school year after year because he is constantly struggling with his schoolwork, take it as a wake-up call, suggests Jackson. Take the time to organize after-school tutoring or academic support blocks to help your child succeed. Be even more active in his education this summer than during the school year. Let him know that you’re in this together. Even students who “hate school” want to succeed.

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