Summer Learning: How to Look for Allies
Involve the teachers: Tell your child's teacher that you're creating a summer learning experience for your child. That way, the teacher, if she has time, can be involved. The teacher is in a good position to suggest goals that will be important for your child's success and to suggest fun ways to meet these goals.
Involve older kids: Find kids from the next grade (or an older sibling or cousin willing to help out). They can write a letter or do something creative (share an art activity, compose and sing a song, write a poem) to help welcome the "little kids," and give them words of encouragement as they make the transition from one grade to another. Work with your child's teacher and encourage your child to create such materials for younger kids as well.
Involve the PTA: Ask the PTA to provide materials that make it easy for next year's teachers to create a videotape or audiotape, or write a personal letter to new students. This might mean making a camera or tape recorder easily available, or it might involve actually doing the recording. If a letter is used, parents can address the envelopes. Whatever the medium, the message from the teacher should include a welcome note, suggestions for a productive and fun summer, and wishes for a successful return to school.
Involve the family: During the summer months, create activities that involve letters or audiotapes to grandparents or other relatives, telling them of the progress made on summer goals. Connecting your kids to other interested people increases motivation and accelerates learning. If you know other parents in other parts of the country whose kids are working on similar projects, you can set up some collaborative learning experiences, or even some friendly family competitions. If goals are met, the prize might be a trip to visit or go camping with the kids in the other family.