Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Summer School

Summer school seems to be a must for many children who are told at the end of a school year that they are ill-prepared for the next grade.

Time4Learning has received ALOT of calls recently by parents who want their child to repeat the previous year's math curriculum during this summer. They want to know if it is possible and how it work and whether it is comparable to summer school.

Here is how we answer.

1. Time4Learning is a great change from school and for some children, a great antidote (and an interesting alternative to attendence at summer school). What this means is that many children have developed some bad habbits about school. They've found themselves in a rut where their learning style and the school's teaching style are not working. This is especially likely with the children that find themselves needing math remediation (or any remediation) since they have apparently been thru the school year without learning what they are supposed to. Time4Learning puts the responsibility on the student to control the pace and learn the material which can be a very maturing opportunity for them. The summer school environment in many ways would just recreate the classroom environment with all the same distractions, teaching styles, and attitude problems that created the problem in the first place.

2. What to do? - We advise parents to focus on the problem. If the student was told that his math skills were weak, then focus on math. If both math and language arts skills were weak, consider attacking the math skills with a curriculum approach (such as Time4Learning) and the language arts with another approach such as a 50 page/day reading program. We don't advise them them to try to pick the specific areas of math weakness since one, its harder to pinpoint than you think. Secondly, math weakness is often across the board and the different strands reinforce each other. Thirdly, its really really depressing to only work on the areas where you are weak. It's better for morale to spend some time in areas of strength and areas of weakness.

3. How to do it? - Start by looking up the curriculum in time4Learning's online lesson plans. Then figure out how many days you plan for the child to work in the summer. 50 is a reasonable number if you are just doing school days. Count the number of lessons and divide by the days. For instance, if there 125 lessons, you need to do 2.5 day. So, tell your child that each day needs to start with them doing 3 Time4Learning lessons. Once they are done, if there is quiz or test, they need to do that too. Then, have them print out the report for you each day. So long as they are doign the work and the tests show mastery (90% or higher), then the system requires no intervention. However, in cases where the child is not mastering the material, you will need to spend some time with them helping them get the concepts.

Comments welcome
Related article on comparing different choices for summer skills sharpener (not remediation)