While I am confident most of our families and students already have the days of summer break mapped out, the importance of encouraging regular practice of skills learned during the past year is important. Our United States educational system is rightly criticized for maintaining an agrarian calendar when the majority of American families have little to do with the cycles of farm labor. The gap between the end of May and mid-August causes many students to fall back in the skill development from the previous school year. Without regular practice and review of new skills, we cannot expect students to make the steady gains we desire for them. This is true in academics, athletics and the arts. Students who engage in both practice and enrichment have an advantage.
Teachers, coaches and directors are pleased to assist families in developing plans that will help our students keep their skills sharp. Beyond the summer programs that some children will attend, much can be accomplished at home. I am a huge fan for designated reading and book discussion time. If we do nothing else for academic skill development, continued reading and discussion to check for understanding is essential. “Quiet time” to practice other skills a student has been learning becomes an important element of the summer if we expect our children to excel in the coming year.
The child who wants to join the volleyball, soccer or baseball team next year is encouraged to practice skills over the summer. I can assure you the competition is working out. One does not need a private coach or even a league to practice most skills. Many great athletes developed skills and learned important lessons in backyard and park pick-up games. Being out there is half the battle. Great coaching can make a big difference in a student’s performance, however, not all of us can afford private coaching. There are neighbors and older students who would like to support a young person interested in improving skills. Reach out to those people. Ask any of our coaches for guidance.
As much as I see merit in students learning how to program and build models with the technology they know how to use, there is a limit to what can be learned when one obsesses over combat-style video games. Some people get great joy out of video games. Yet when playing becomes an obsession, we need to require some alternative activities even at the risk of having the classic battle over “whose life it is” with our tweens and teens. Just this past week the Boston Red Sox removed the game Fortnite from their club house because the managers felt it was distracting players. The same goes for social media. We have to teach our children that they need a break from the addictive information flow and regular feedback channels that social media allows. Three cheers for the families that have routines that require tech-free times. The families that have established these limits see the benefits!
Have a summer plan. Your children will benefit, and families will see the investment they have made in the education of their children magnified.
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