Is Summer School Right For Your Middle-School Child with LD?
By Marcia Brown Rubinstien, MA, CEP
Most parents want to ensure that their middle-school child stays active over the summer, continues to learn, and remains in the company of positive peers. Most middle schoolers, however, see summer as a time to relax and have fun. Since they have not yet been to high school, college, or had a real job, they think that the school year is the most stressful agenda a person can face. Today’s summer school options, however, offer the possibility of appeasing both parents and children. There are local and residential programs, week-long to summer-long sessions, full-time academic forays, and academic/recreational combinations.
To determine if an academic curriculum will enhance your child’s summer vacation, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does my chid enjoy academic, social, and behavioral success?
Adolescents who thrive in academia, and find nothing more exciting than a new idea or an accelerated curriculum are perfect candidates for vacation education programs.
- Does he want to pursue a special interest not offered during the academic year?
Children with recognized talents or interests in math, science, music, art, drama, writing, and similar pursuits often delight in immersing themselves in what they’re most passionate about during the summer. An added benefit is the opportunity to meet young people and practicing professionals who share their interests.
- Does she struggle with academic, social or behavioral issues?
Kids who need to upgrade learning or interpersonal skills often find comfort and confidence in the less stressful environment of casual summer classes. Different teachers and different teaching styles can instill confidence in students who are reluctant learners during the academic year.
- Does he have a special need that could be accommodated or remediated in summer sessions?
Children who struggle with elements of the curriculum are often relieved to know that they have a second chance outside of the traditional classroom. Summer school can be a place to review previous material and introduce subjects required in the fall, making the new subjects easier to understand.
- How does my community regard summer school attendance?
In some towns, attending summer school is a mark of shame; in others, a badge of honor. Are kids in your neighborhood who attend thought of by their peers as “losers,” or are they considered proactive go-getters? Stay attuned to the thoughts and opinions that might affect your child’s perception of summer school—and how he may be perceived if he spends his summer studying.
For some kids, adolescence is a full-time job that precludes Advanced Oboe or Junior Rocket Science. Summer school can be a great opportunity for kids with available brains, but for those preoccupied with other issues, it is simply another hurdle on life’s obstacle course.
To make the best decision for your middle schooler, engage him in the decision-making process. Begin your discussion with the critical question, “What do you think about going to summer school?”
The author is an educational consultant and author of Raising NLD Superstars.