Ground Control Parenting – Carol Sutton Lewis

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Academics

Summer School for Parents

GCP Parents, hope you and your families are having a great summer! Now is a good time to focus on making sure that your children start the school year right. Have you been combatting summer slide with your children? If not, there is still time. Wherever you are in this process, we’ve got tips to make it easier. Several of the tips below are focused on boys (since we have found that some of our sons need more of a nudge to stay on track), but they can help our girls as well. Check them out:

Summer Reading. Does your son have any required or recommended reading for the summer? Has he started it? Now is the time to check in with him to see how it is going. If your son’s school has not given him any reading assignment, head to the library or a bookstore with him and find a few books for him to read this month. You can find a few reading list recommendations for the younger set here and one from Boston Public Schools for high schoolers here to get you started.

Read Aloud: Boys can be reluctant readers, and one way to encourage reading is to read aloud to them (at any age) and have them read aloud to you. Choose a short book that you can finish in a few weeks (either a required book or a different one that interests you both) and make a plan to take turns reading it aloud to one another. Depending on your schedule, you can do this daily, or pick one or two days a week to read together. You may be surprised to find yourself enjoying the book as much as your son does.

Read Along: Another way to encourage required summer reading (especially for the reluctant readers) is to get copies of the required readings and read the books along with your son. Time consuming, I know, but well worth it. Chatting about what you’ve read so far is a great way to get insight into your son’s reading speed, comprehension, and interests. Talking about the reading with him helps him to retain what he has read. You may get to add some pretty interesting books to your own summer reading list, either rereading classics you loved or being introduced to the works of new authors. And if you don’t like the book, you can talk about that with your son as well. But you both have to hang in there and finish it! (If your schedule gives you absolutely no time for this, well, get the Cliff/Spark notes. Not optimal but you can still get the benefits of talking about the book.)

Summer Learning: Focused on stopping the slide? Head to www.education.com for tons of customizable and printable worksheets for students from kindergarten through high school. Print out a few from last year’s grade and encourage your son to dust off the cobwebs and review the material. Or if he is up to speed from last year, give him a few worksheets from the next grade to let him know what is coming. Be careful not to overdo it– you don’t want him to feel overwhelmed before he starts the next grade. Take the time to go over what he works on, and let him know how proud you are of him for focusing on this now.

Get Ahead of Those Fall Deadlines: Do medical forms need to be updated? When do you need to sign up for any school based afterschool programs? Are you able to sign your son up for any art/music/ sports lessons or teams now? The start of school is hectic enough without layering all those crazy deadlines on top of it. Planning any extracurricular activities for your son now, if possible, can save you both from additional September stress. Can you knock out some school supply shopping now? Avoid the lines, and have a much greater selection of items. If you know that your son will need extra help with any of next year’s courses, now is the time to research and set up tutoring. Have a high school upperclassman? Take advantage of the relatively quiet summer months to consider when college visits and SAT/ACT prep will take place.

Back to School Planning: Unless your son is a self-starting organizer, think about what kind of notebook/folder/filing system will work best for him this year before you head off to buy school supplies. Your son should be fully involved in (if not leading) this process; don’t waste time researching the “best” organizing system if he has no intention of using it. Ask him to think about what has been the most effective system for him. Go online or to the store with him and choose items which support that system. Check with his school as they may have suggestions for school supplies as well. If your son is clueless about what works for him, feel free to make suggestions and get him to try a system that you think will work.

Enjoy Some Downtime. Make sure to build in some summer chill time/fun time with your children. This is a great time to discover and appreciate the interesting people they are becoming. It is important to be proactive about the fall, but don’t forget to enjoy the rest of the summer!

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