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Ask the Teacher

End of school blues, summer school, writing proficiency and retaining skills over break

Summer School
June 2013

Question: First grade was such an awesome year. My daughter enjoyed everything about it. She has been so down in the dumps about ending the year. What can I do to help her move on?

Help your daughter bring closure to the year by finding ways to celebrate it. Have her write a letter to her teacher, gather special mementos into a scrapbook or host a gathering of her classmates. Gradually shift her focus to next year by having her list her own behaviors and attitudes that contributed to her great year. Once she has a comprehensive list, have her create a future-focused set of commitments. For example: I will make second grade a wonderful year by starting each day cheerfully. Teach her to recognize that her positive contributions have an important influence on the whole classroom environment.

Question: My son's second grade teacher recommended that he attend summer school. He hates school and the thought of having to go when everyone else is off is just more than he can handle. I am worried that by forcing him to go, I will make him hate school even more.

The teacher recommended summer school after a year's experience with your son. She has seen something about his academic progress that indicates it is in his best interest to experience the boost of additional school time. Not acting upon this recommendation would be like not taking your child to the dentist when he has a toothache. Following through on this recommendation should be a given.

It is likely that your son is concerned that his summer will be all school and no fun. Create a summer calendar that highlights some summer activities that your son enjoys: hikes, trips to the ball park, bike rides, outings to the zoo or amusement parks, visits with special friends, road trips to see family, etc. When he sees that all of the things he enjoys will still happen, he will be less likely to feel so negatively about summer school.

Reward your son for making the most of the summer school time. Keep a chart to track positive starts to the day, reports by his teacher of a good work ethic and other indicators of progress. Provide an extra-special treat or outing to celebrate when things go well. After all, he is going above and beyond.

Question: There seems to be so much focus in school now on writing. My fifth grader struggles a great deal to put anything down on paper; he just can't be bothered. He would much rather slap anything down just to be done. Is there anything I can do to change his attitude?

As more and more of our communication is in written form, the importance of writing has increased significantly in our technological age. Success is directly dependent upon the ability to communicate effectively. Use summer as a way to develop some positive associations with writing. If you work along with your child to make writing fun, his attitude may improve.

Consider keeping a journal when you take vacations. Have everyone in the family contribute a few sentences to recap special experiences you have. Or work together to create a funny story like "The Car Trip that Would Not End" or an article of advice for young travelers like "Avoid the City Museum of Any Town at Any Cost." Patterning stories after fun books like The Diary of a Worm is fun for would-be writers of all ages.

If getting the words down on the paper is the challenge, have him record the story and then you write it down. Starting a blog and publishing his stories there may give your child the sense of accomplishment that he needs to boost him over the "I hate to write" road block.

Question: We are not in a year round school, but I have read a lot about how much kids lose in terms of academic skills over the summer. What can I do to prevent that?

First, take a few weeks off and enjoy the less stressful routine of summer! Resist the urge to drill, drill, drill every day. Adopting a casual approach to learning will not hurt your child academically, provided you encourage some reading and some math. Check your local library for a reading program that offers incentives, or custom design one yourself. Play games that require math and reasoning skills. A few weeks before school resumes, review some basic math facts to dust off the cobwebs and help build the attention stamina that the school day requires.

Ask the Teacher is written by Deb Krupowicz, a mother of four and current teacher. Deb holds a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction and has over twenty years of experience teaching preschool, elementary and middle school students. Please send your questions to her at asktheteacher@indyschild.com

Tags: Education, In This Issue, Parenting

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