Monday, June 1, 2015

"You cannot open a book without learning something." Confucius

Summer vacation will be here soon, and although everyone enjoys a break, as a teacher, I have a real concern about the loss of learning over a three month period of time with no school.  I know that many schools across the country have gone to year round schools at least partially for this reason, which I think is well-founded.

My three nephews moved from Pennsylvania to North Carolina when they were in middle school, at about the same time North Carolina changed to a school year that is year round. The boys said that they actually liked year round school better, for more than one reason. They felt that the 3-4 week breaks came just when they were needed most, and that the shorter vacation period led to less boredom.  They were refreshed and ready to return after the break. All bright students, readers, and lifelong learners, the three agreed that they forgot less with the shorter break time.  Because they had more frequent vacation periods, fewer students missed class time for travel time and family vacations, which is a real problem in the north.  In my 37 years of teaching, I signed a plethora of forms for winter vacations!  For those students, all of that learning time was lost forever. 

I would support year round schools in Pennsylvania, but until it happens, here are a few tips for parents to guide their children in the summer learning mode.

1. Have your child sign up for a daily vocabulary word delivered by email. I like two sites. provides vocabulary words from elementary to high school. Click on the link, choose the grade of the student, and sign up.  Their presentations and word explanations are both informative and entertaining.

2. Another site I like for high school is Wordsmith Great words, explanations, etymology, and usage examples.

3. Encourage your child to read.  Take elementary students to the library each week, and read aloud to them. Your children will remember the moments you spent together reading.

4. College bound students should choose some books to read from the awesome list provided by the College Board 

5. Elementary Students can also read from a list of recommended books! The best list I know is 

6. Download some apps at the App store! Vocabahead, Wordsmith, Quizup, SAT prep and ACT prep are a few good ones.

7 . Encourage your child to share new things they learn each day by setting an example of being a lifelong learner yourself.  Point out interesting articles in the newspaper, and discuss some of the favorite topics you enjoy learning about.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.

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