July Is an Investment in September
Summer provides a great time for students to relax and have fun, but the summer season can be a long one for students and their parents both at home and in terms of the impact on academics. A five-week academic program combined with a classic summer camp experience can be just what is needed to stave off boredom and help prevent students’ skills from regressing, thus avoiding a difficult return to school in September. Many parents make the decision to have their children attend an academic and fun-filled summer camp where they will have fun, make new friends, and, at the same time, learn. When students then go back to school in September, they will hit the ground running.
What is so important about academics over the summer? A summer academic program helps students retain what they have learned over the previous academic year. It prevents skill regression and even provides enrichment in many areas. Oftentimes an academic summer camp will target specific subject areas such as reading, writing, study skills, and math, and provide opportunities for children to continue working on what they were learning in June. It might provide remediation in a particular subject area and provide enrichment in another academic area depending on the student. Additionally, students will be surrounded by others who learn in similar ways.
At Eagle Hill School in Hardwick, Massachusetts, we schedule each subject area separately, so a student could take reading tutorial and reading fluency classes and work in upper level Algebra I or Algebra II. If written expression is an area of need for a student, she could, for example, be scheduled into a remedial writing class and during another class period take a literature class in British Literature, American Literature, or Fantasy Literature. Another student may take a course such as Organization & Time Management and another in Study Skills, and then take advanced writing and Love Story: The Literature of Love and Romance. The important thing to remember when considering a summer academic program is to look for a camp that individualizes for each child. Then each student’s schedule will be different from his or her peers’ schedules, ensuring that each gets exactly what is needed.
In addition to the academic classes, there are typically several elective classes that students take during the summer session, and this is the fun part! Electives range from classes in the arts, fitness and wellness, technology, and recreational activities. Samplings of these courses include: studio art, graphic arts, swimming, weight training, Outdoor Adventure Ropes, creative writing and poetry, tennis, soccer, woodworking, improvisation, science of flight, summer reading, and so many more. While often parents want their children to benefit from the academic portion of the day, for students it’s the rest of the day that is important. Thus, it is very important to look for summer camp experiences that target academics and at the same time carefully weave in the fun parts, too.
Another benefit of attending an academic summer camp is that it provides the family with an opportunity to learn more about a school and to do so during the summer. At Eagle Hill School, many of our students first attended the summer session as a way of getting to know us. This makes an academic year transition so much easier for the family and for the child.
Convincing a child to attend a summer camp that includes an academic component isn’t always easy. It is often necessary for the parents to make the decision to enroll their children in summer academic programs, given they have the foresight and know what is best for their children. At the end of July, however, it is very often the children who thank their parents for an educational and fun-filled summer camp experience.
The important thing to remember as parents and as educators is that the gift of an academic summer program provides great rewards for children and ultimately for parents. For children to have a fun-filled summer camp experience coupled with academic success is all that parents can hope for; then to have their children return to school in September confident and engaged in their education is what parents dream about. Choosing the right summer camp program can make this a reality.