You might ask yourself, “it’s only 8 or 9 weeks, so do I really need to worry about summer slide?” Spoiler alert: YES. Educators have long known “summer slide” is a thing. The 2021-22 school year will be different, though, because for the first time, summer slide will be layered on top of the effects of “COVID learning loss.” Truth is, we don’t know how far behind our students will be at the start of the new school year, or the full scope of what the ongoing impacts might be. One thing’s for sure: NOW is the ideal time to help your student prepare for a successful school year, and we have 6 tips to help you do just that.
- Find an Internship, Volunteer, or Shadow Gig. It’s great for your brain to learn new things, and it’s easiest to learn when you’re passionate about the subject. Find out what makes your student tick by discussing their passions with them. If they’re a little too young for an internship, contact a local business and ask them if your student can shadow for a day. Lots of business owners are flattered when asked, and happy to share their passions with young people. Our peer mentors have the expertise and are trained to help your child explore their passions, and can help them find the perfect summer opportunity, or even create their own.
- Sign Up for Summer School and/or Summer Camps. There are many in-person and online Summer Enrichment Classes and Leadership programs available. Teen Innovators will offer 5-week online Summer Camps designed for 3 Tracks: High School Prep, College Prep, and Innovation. Beginning July 26, we’ll offer a 1-week, in-person Boot Camp in the city of Chicago, that will combine our best leadership classes from all 3 tracks into a fun and powerful program, just in time to get students back-to-school ready. Join our mailing list to be the first to know when registration becomes available.
- Try some Hands-On STEM activities. Though we learn in different ways, 75% of us learn best when we do something ourselves. There are many hands-on STEM activities available online. Suggest that your child try one of them, or better yet -share an activity with a younger peer or sibling. Sometimes, teaching is the best way to learn something. Not into STEM? Try a new sport! Getting physical is a great way to feel your best, and gain mental focus.
- Let them CREATE! Whether it’s cake-baking, gardening or making a YouTube video, our minds expand when we create something. While it’s okay to spend downtime watching t.v., scrolling on social media, or watching YouTube videos, it’s a slippery slope. When you add up the time the average person spends watching t.v., it amounts to more than a decade over a lifetime. Just think about what you could do with 10 years of your life! Explain to your child that, while you’re ok with them taking downtime, you’re not ok with them wasting literally years of life looking at what others are creating. Encourage them to create something themselves. Even if it’s a quick watercolor or batch of cupcakes.
- Mmmmmm….cupcakes. Keep on Reading. Even books read for fun are great to help your child read faster, gain comprehension skills, and learn new vocabulary words. Call your local librarian, and let them help you find selections that are different from what you might not find on your own. Hoopla and Overdrive are great apps that can help you download books right to your iPad or tablet with a library card number.
- Connect with a Peer Mentor. Yes, I know this sounds self- serving. But peer mentoring has been studied and reported to positively impact: social skills, competence, school and peer connectedness, confidence and self-esteem. Our older teen mentors have been fully vetted, and hand-selected for their accomplishments and positive, can-do personalities, as well as their passion and ability to work with young people. Our peer mentors foster strong, caring relationships with their mentees, and encourage them to be confident and successful. Our young mentees report feeling ‘happier’ right from their first mentor session.
When Covid hit last year, we unwillingly welcomed a new normal. And now, as we slowly return to normalcy, it’s possible that some of the old ways of being and learning will never be the same again. Due to a year of Covid remote learning, gaps in the learning process have been exacerbated. And we really don’t know what the long-term impacts of that will be. The convergence of both Covid learning loss and the dreaded summer slide will create a unique situation for students this coming school year. But with the advice above, and some extra grace and understanding, your child will be ready to move forward into an exciting future this fall and beyond.
Christine Hutchison, mother of two and Founder of Teen Innovators, with Kate Szczudlo, Manager of Curriculum and Training at Teen Innovators, High School English Teacher and Speech Coach, and mother of three. Teen Innovators is a self-led superb peer mentorship program, created by teens for teens. Providing Leadership and Life Skills your (pre)teen will actually listen to. Sign Up for our program today.