By Lisa Podell
(Julie Madison Jacoby also contributed to this article)
Summer is the season for daydreaming! We invite you to sit back, relax, and picture yourself delighting in a seamless transition back to school in the fall. We bet it would look a little something like this….
• Wake themselves up in the morning and are on time for school!
•Remember to write down all homework assignments and are aware of all upcoming tests and projects.
•Know where their school materials and personal belongings are…at all times!
•Take an active interest in learning about topics they are passionate about. (Way to take initiative!)
•Enjoy reading and even have a few tricks up their sleeves to help comprehend difficult or dense materials.
If you would like to see your children grow into these excellent habits, the best time to plant the seed is during the summer months, believe it or not! Now, don’t get us wrong, summer is a time for fun! Children are growing and maturing while they get a break from their schoolwork and routine schedules. But if you want a smooth transition in September, here are some easy tips you can follow to keep their learning-muscles flexed while they also enjoy their summer vacation!
1. Have your children set an alarm everyday. Even if it’s for 10am, they can still practice the habit of setting an alarm, waking up to it, and getting out of bed to start the day.
*Bonus: Set a desired time by which they want to be downstairs so they approximate how long each morning task, such as brushing teeth and getting dressed, actually takes. You can also make a game out of it by setting a timer to see if they can “beat the clock” or improve their time from the day before.
2. Keep a monthly calendar. Some kids spend all summer not knowing what day it is! Kids with no sense of time are more likely to forget about Monday’s test or that “Picture Day” was actually on Wednesday NOT Thursday. You can prevent these headaches by inviting your children to pick out a calendar of their choice and have them hang it in a place where they simply cannot miss it. Keeping a calendar also reinforces the skills needed to maintain a successful planner during the school year. Have your children include the following:
•Daily events, play dates, and appointments.
•Reminders for their responsibilities/chores.
•Summer reading assignments and due dates.
•Cross off each task at the end of the day.
*Bonus: When your children have an upcoming game, performance or trip, have them write down one action they will take each day leading up to the event, so that when the big day arrives, they will be prepared and feel confident!
3. Consistency is key!
• Select one meal a day when you all gather for good conversation and healthy food. This is a great opportunity to practice verbally summarizing what each of you did that day. Bonus points for including specific details and descriptive imagery!
• Create a “weekly movie night” where each family member gets a turn to select the movie for that night. There are tons of online resources such as pbs.org and scholastic.com that offer a wide variety of enriching choices. If you really want to engage your children’s minds, try watching a documentary that you haven’t seen before.
• Create a nightly (or weekly) planning routine where you and your children discuss and review your respective calendars and each family member writes down their own activities, reminders and tasks for the next day.
• Designate a space for objects that always seem to go missing.
– “I can’t find my sneakers.”
– “Where are my glasses?”
– “Has anyone seen my retainer?”
Does this sound familiar??? Your children will be much more inclined to keep track of their personal belongings when they can choose the space that they believe will work best. To help reinforce this healthy habit, associate that space with a specific time of day. (For instance, your children might want to place their shoes by the door as soon as they get home from camp.) Let them choose the time and place that works best for them.
*Bonus: Get creative! Allow your children to outline the selected spaces with brightly colored masking tape or draw a picture on a post-it that symbolizes the specific object and place it within the space. The more time and care your children invest in the process, the stronger the results will be!
4. Project-based learning for the entire family: Select a topic that would be interesting to investigate. You could even research your family history! Use your monthly calendar to schedule 10-15 minutes a day of “family project time.” Select a due date when you will sit down to share and discuss what you have all learned. Each person is in charge of including a creative element that ties into his or her own interests such as music, art or technology.
*Bonus: To create “buy-in,” select a current event that has created some controversy in the media. Set up a debate where each family member takes a side, does research and prepares a persuasive argument.
5. Any reading is better than no reading! Yes, comic books count! Have your children read any material of their choice for 30 minutes a day. Whatever they choose, it must be NEW material. Rereading their favorite book during this allotted time does NOT count.
*Bonus: Go to the bookstore with your children and choose one book you’d both like to read. There are plenty of Young Adult novels that are engaging for both children and adults of all ages! Read independently during the week and then choose a time to come together to discuss the book.
Here’s to a sweet and successful summer!
Adolescent Mentoring was created by award-winning teacher, Julie Madison Jacoby, to help adolescents and adults set goals toward reaching their potential. Lisa Podell has since joined the business as a Senior Consultant and Lead Mentor. She is also a certified life coach.They travel to homes in both New Jersey and New York City to mentor students one-on-one in the following areas: Executive skills, study skills, organizational skills and creating healthier habits. Julie and Lisa are also co-authors of Mentoring for School Success: Creating Positive Changes which can be purchased on Amazon and through their website at http://www.AdolescentMentoring.com.