May 27, 2016

Summer can be relaxing *and* productive. Here’s how!

Now that the weather is warming up, every child is thinking about summer. Engaging Minds is thinking about summer too! Last week, we released our summer programming, and we are very excited to implement some new summer workshops, including our “Study Skills Boot Camp,” and “Stepping Up to High School” program. While we hope to see all of our students at Engaging Minds this summer, there are many ways to have a productive and useful vacation. Read on for some beneficial summer suggestions…

Summer at EM

For Students of All Ages

  1. Explore Topics your Child Loves: During the school year, when assignments are mandatory and challenging, it can be especially tough for students to get excited about learning. With extra free time this summer, plan to help your child discover or pursue a learning opportunity that won’t be “boring,” like his regular school work. If he’s excited about theater, consider an acting camp or practice script-writing together at home. If he likes robotics, learn about the engineering and software that goes into building robots. Whatever your child’s passion, summer is the time to follow it. When he returns to school in the fall, he’ll have strengthened valuable skills and will be brimming with newfound confidence.
  2. Reflect and Project: At the end of every school year, Engaging Minds students spend part of their sessions reflecting on their progress throughout the year, setting goals for the future, and discussing what they have learned about themselves as thinkers, learners, and people. Summer can also be an excellent time to engage in some reflection on the past and projection into the future. As a family, reflect on all aspects of your child’s educational and extracurricular goals, then envision what challenges might be ahead. Consider whether his schedule is too packed or too sparse. Troubleshoot ways to alleviate last year’s stressors throughout his upcoming academic calendar. Develop new ways to pursue his interests. When your child takes the time to anticipate his year ahead, and use his own experiences to inform future goal-setting, he is more likely to form strong plans.
  3. Prepare for the Next Step: Empowered students, students with choice, feel engaged in their schoolwork and motivated to grow. Summer is a great time to prepare for an upcoming school year and incorporate your child’s own choices, helping him enter the fall with confidence and focus. Let him choose the organizational system (binders, accordion folders, notebooks, etc.) that he feels will work best for him. Let him determine the method with which he will track his assignments. Let him decide where in the house he feels he can focus best for homework time. You might even sign your child up for a preparatory workshop, like “Ready, Set, Middle School!” or “Effective Note-Taking,” in which our expert instructors incorporate your child’s individual needs and interests into a two-day skill-building curriculum designed to prepare your child for his upcoming school year.  
  4. Practice Existing Skills: Is your child a great writer? Does he give a convincing presentation? Whatever your child’s skills and talents, make sure that he practices them this summer to keep them fresh and to continue improving them. Many school systems send their students home over the summer with a math packet or summer reading, yet few require students to keep up with other skills, like planning, organizing, writing, note-taking, presenting, and more. Help your child to practice all the skills he will need to succeed by joining a workshop, or incorporating fun summer activities (like a trip to the Science Museum, a family book club, or a travel journal) into his everyday life.

For High Schoolers and Rising College Students

  1. Organize Application Material: Juniors and Seniors in high school have their sights set on the future. But- preparing to apply to colleges, or even private high schools, is a stressful process with tons of information to sort through and organize. That’s where executive function skills come in! For any student working on applications, using tools like spreadsheets and calendars can minimize stress and maximize productivity.  In a spreadsheet, your child can include one row per school with columns listing application requirements, fees, deadlines, links to school websites, and more. With all his information in one place, he can set goals on a calendar to move forward with the process, and refer to his spreadsheet as a checklist of requirements. With a bit of organization and a clear plan of approach, your child will make the most of application season.
  2. Prepare for and Take Entrance Exams: During the regular school year, incorporating focused study for the PSATs, ISEEs, SATs, or ACTs can be a challenge. Daily assignments with immediate deadlines tend to take precedent over long-term studying for standardized tests. Over the summer, with far fewer academic responsibilities, students have more freedom to develop and adhere to a strong standardized testing study plan. Some students may even be able to take their tests over the summer, or in the early fall, making all their hard work during vacation worthwhile. Encourage your child to use their time wisely this summer to take stressful responsibilities off of their plates during their regular academic year. He may resist at first, but will be thankful when classes resume and they don’t have to add entrance exams to their agenda.
  3. Test Out Skills in the Workforce: It’s never too early to prepare your child for his future. Signing up for a summer internship, when your child is old enough, can supplement his regular school work with an experience that helps him understand how his academics translate into the real world. Many students don’t understand why they need to work hard in school each year, because their future careers are too far “out of reach.” Internships can put the future in perspective, while also helping your child explore interests he might not otherwise investigate in his regular school system. Help your child apply to write for a fashion blog, shadow a computer scientist, or work in a lab. The experience may inspire a complete transformation in your student, helping him become self-sufficient in school and life.
  4. Volunteer and “Teach it Back”: Summer volunteering provides a great opportunity for students of all ages to enhance their regular school work with hands-on experience, making them well-rounded and resourceful learners. Many students volunteer at summer camps, teaching younger students some of their own hard-earned knowledge. When your child has the chance to “teach it back,” or use her education in new ways, she solidifies what she already knows, and adds depth and meaning to her understandings. Help your child find a great program for her, specifically one that asks her to use some of her academic strengths and weaknesses. She will thank you later, when she feels more confident at school and has a great resume to back her up!
  5. Get Ahead of the Process: Does your child need a resume to apply to an internship? To college? Join us for our new “Resume Writing” workshop to help her to get ahead of her deadlines and learn a new skill. Perhaps your child will turn in college applications for the Early Admission deadlines in November. Starting the process, with one-on-one tutoring sessions this summer, can take the pressure off when November finally arrives. If your child knows what to expect from her classes this september, she could start reading ahead, preparing an outline of her summer reading, researching some of the topics on the syllabus, or getting organized for her first day. Whatever your child can do to get a head start on her goals will make returning to the “regular grind” an easier transition.
  6. Travel to Tour and Explore: Colleges offer a wide variety of tours, orientation events, and even courses and workshops on campus during the summer months. If your child is a rising junior or senior, touring campuses this summer could provide a sense of clarity surrounding her application process. Invite your child to take-notes based on her experiences so that she can use them to inspire her choice in schools and to write her application essays later on. Perhaps your child doesn’t need to tour schools at all, but would benefit from a weekend getaway or two to de-stress. Whatever the occasion, the summer is the perfect time to explore new areas, schools, and potential future destinations.

There are many useful ways to spend a summer, and one of the best activities to do is simply take a break! As the summer approaches this year, consider these options with your child and develop a plan that mixes rest, relaxation, preparation, and practice. Your child will enter the new school year feeling refreshed and ready.