Turn summer setback into a comeback

By RANDY FULLER / Guest Columnist

It is hard to believe that school is almost over for the 2014-15 year, but alas—here we are! Summer is hot on our minds with images of sun and sand. We are hopeful for lazy days, starry nights, more time with family and relief from the daily school schedule. However, there is one last thing you must do before the kids come running out of the school building with worksheets and pencil cases trailing behind them.
Consider asking your child’s teacher two powerful questions before the last day: What are some specific areas that you think we should focus on at home this summer for our child and how would you suggest we work on those areas?
Years of research confirms that summer “learning loss” is real. According to a report released June 2011, by the RAND Corporation, the average summer learning loss in math and reading for American students could amount up to one month per year. By pinpointing the subjects your child had difficulty learning the previous school year and focusing on improving those skills, your child will not experience the summer “set-back.”
Summer is an ideal time to set aside just 15 to 30 minutes a day for helping your child with areas of difficulty. There are many online resources and teacher supply stores that offer a wide variety of learning materials that reinforce and strengthen scholastic skills which make learning more fun. Parents are not helpless when it comes to their child’s education.
Another way to encourage keeping a young mind active is through summer reading. During the summer, students have more time to read for enjoyment, which also offers a great opportunity to preserve and strengthen their reading skills. Reading also keeps the mind from being idle and promotes practice for comprehension. Set aside time for your child to read each day during the summer break. Again, just 15 to 30 minutes a day is all it takes! Look to your child’s school website for available Summer Reading lists.
Over the summer, students and parents who practice the above tips will see strengthening and improvement in scholastic skills.  Students may find learning to be fun as they become more capable of meeting scholastic challenges by overcoming any learning weaknesses. By implementing a summer plan and igniting your child’s passion for learning, he or she can enjoy a renewed sense of academic self-esteem.  Make the most of the time during the summer so that your child can experience a “come-back” as they begin the next school year.  Have a safe and enjoyable summer!  See you back for the first day of school on Wednesday, Aug. 12!

Randy Fuller is the superintendent of the Shelby County School System.