The younger years are a time for children to balance increased independence with family structure. Tweens and teens are in a developmental stage wherein they are finding their way, but still need the support of rules and guidance from older family members. Children in this age group can feel empowered by making more of their own choices, especially when those choices build skills or help others. Parents can help by providing a framework that has the desired amount of structure, but still allows kids to develop independence incrementally. Ideally, summer can be a mix of family time and activities with peers. Here are some suggestions to explore with your child:
- Incorporate friends into summer activities. If your family takes a summer vacation, consider allowing your child to invite a close friend to come along for company; or, coordinate with the families of your child’s friends to select summer camps where your child will have friends with whom to share the experience.
- Explore hobbies and interests. Summer is a fantastic time for students to delve deeper into activities such as sports, hobbies, or other passions.
- Give back. Children who volunteer in an area of interest learn responsibility and independence while developing an increased awareness of the needs of others. Research options for community service with local libraries, religious institutions, and other nonprofit organizations.
- Maintain academic focus. Taking a summer course can help children stay focused on academics during the summer months. Consider a Laurel Springs elective or World Language summer course, which can be completed according to the student’s schedule, even accommodating travel and vacation plans.
As children progress through the middle school years, the summer months are a time for families to plan a varied schedule of relaxation, family time, activities with peers, and some coursework to maintain intellectual involvement. The key is to find a balance that allows children to have time with friends as well as memorable family experiences.
High school students are on their way to becoming independent, self-sufficient young adults. When considering how to make summer plans, high school students and their families should consider what is necessary (such as a summer job or family plans), and what the student enjoys doing. This list can serve as a great starting point for a family conversation about summer plans.
- Consider a summer job. High school students who work during the summer report an increase in their understanding of personal responsibility, independence, and accountability.
- Identify volunteer or internship opportunities. Students who engage in volunteer activities or an internship in an area of interest have a chance to experience a potential career. Knowing what you don’t want to do can be just as important as knowing what you do want to do. Volunteer and internship positions are risk-free ways for students to learn what potential careers would (or would not) interest them.
- Get ahead academically. Summer courses are a smart way for students to make their upcoming school year more manageable. When considering a summer course, be purposeful in choosing which course would be the best option. Laurel Springs summer courses are student-centric, so assignments can be completed regardless of travel, work, or other summer activities.
- Visit colleges. High school students can begin by visiting the campuses of colleges that are local to them. These casual, unofficial visits can consist of walking through campus and observing student life. For rising juniors or seniors, plan official college visits based on a list of colleges where the student plans to apply. Call ahead to find out about campus tours, and make an appointment to visit with an admissions counselor. College visits allow students to get a feel for the type of school environment that is a good fit.
Because high school students may have a very busy schedule during the traditional academic school year, it is important to incorporate time with friends and family when planning what to do during the summer. As students become experts at balancing coursework, social activities, work responsibilities, and college plans, summer can be the ideal time to strengthen those skills in a more relaxed setting.
To find out more about how Laurel Springs helps students succeed with summer courses, visit their website at http://laurelsprings.com/academics/summer-program/.