As soon as spring break ends, our students’ thoughts jump ahead to summer vacation, and understandably so. Who wouldn’t be excited by the idea of sleeping in, trips to the beach, hanging out with friends and, best of all, no school?
But summer offers the opportunity for more than just s’mores and sunburn. It’s a prime time for youngsters to get the help they need with reading, writing, or math. Giving up a little sunshine in the summer could mean a much brighter experience when school resumes.
For current students, tutoring over the summer keeps them moving ahead and prevents backsliding that costs time and money. For those just starting a tutoring program, summer lessons offer a jump start that quickly builds skills and confidence and lays a foundation for later success.
“I know kids want their summer,” says Lawrence Kloth, co-founder of Reading Success Plus. “They’ve got ball games and camps and all sorts of things that they’re looking forward to, and those are important. Kids should be well-rounded individuals and have more in their lives than just schoolwork.
“But you don’t want to lose the progress you’ve already made, and with summer lessons, you can make huge gains without giving up the activities you love.”
Parents can strike that balance by deciding the intensity of the tutoring program. For new students, or current students who want to accelerate their progress, RSP’s intensive summer tutoring offers lessons four days a week for four weeks. Families of current students may choose to maintain their current pace or modestly increase their tutoring time. Either way, with flexible scheduling and the options of in-person or online tutoring, learning and summer fun can easily co-exist.
Preserve your gains
For current students, the downside of taking a summer off is significant. First, the opportunity for 12 weeks of growth is lost. But more time is lost when the student resumes lessons in the fall – expect at least three weeks of review to get back to where the child was in May.
“That’s 15 weeks right there,” Lawrence says. “And remember, our students are in it for the long haul, so over the course of the program, if you take summers off, that probably adds an additional year of tutoring. That might be the difference between being done in middle school and being done in high school.”
Summer also gives students the opportunity to build their skills in another area. For example, most RSP students are in the reading program, but many of them would benefit from writing instruction. (More on that later.)
“Taking the summer off is really a disservice to the child,” Lawrence says. “Not only do they lose the chance for growth, but when they come back in the fall, they are weeks behind where they were in May. It doesn’t do anyone any good.”
RSP’s summer intensive customarily has been most popular with families just starting the program. By going four days a week for four weeks – double the usual pace – students get off to a blazing start.
Many new reading students need to work on phonemic awareness before getting into the meat of our program, the Barton Reading & Spelling System. The intensive summer program gives students time to develop those skills. By fall, when it’s time to go back to two lessons a week, they have the foundation they need.
“Parents of new students sometimes ask, ‘Should we get screened and then start in August?’” Lawrence says. “No, no, no. Don’t miss this opportunity to get a head start on things. Then, when school starts back up in August, the child will be three months closer to getting caught up with their peers.”
For students who need help in more than one area, our summer program offers the option of two one-hour sessions, four days a week for four weeks, allowing them to work in a second program. “That’s something a lot of families can’t do during the school year because they’re so busy,” Lawrence says. “In the summer, they might have the time,” especially with the program’s flexibility.
“A lot of our older students do the writing program to get themselves ready for college, to prepare for the SAT, to apply to trade school, or just for schoolwork,” Lawrence says. “They’re going to need it.” (Click here for more on the Reading Success Plus writing program.)
Another option for established families that would like extra instruction but don’t want to commit to four days a week is to extend their regular lesson, perhaps going for 90 minutes instead of an hour.
Flexibility makes it work
We understand that summertime is prime time for family fun, and we don’t expect our families to give up vacations, family outings, time at cottages, or anything else. We also think you can have all of that and at the same time make progress in reading, writing, or math, making the inevitable return to school that much easier.
That’s why the four weeks of intensive summer tutoring program can be spread over a six-week period. Your family is going away for a week? We can schedule around that. Going away for the Fourth of July? So is almost everybody else, so we don’t even schedule that week. Is the student in fall sports? The intensive session will be done by the end of July, staying clear of practice time.
The online option adds even more flexibility, whether or not the student is enrolled in the intensive session. Online lessons mean students can learn anywhere there’s internet access – from a summer home, in a hotel, or at a cottage. Students have done remote lessons from a campground shelter and in the parking lot at the beach. That doesn’t mean a student should never have a week off from tutoring, but it does mean there are options that could work in the right situation.
Online tutoring also can eliminate some complications that come with summer childcare situations. Finding summer childcare is difficult enough without having to arrange transportation from the caregiver’s location to a reading lesson. With remote sessions, a child can learn while sitting at their grandparents’ dining room table.
Keep moving ahead
We admit, the phrase “intensive summer tutoring” isn’t going to bring a smile to students’ faces. Just plain “summer tutoring” won’t do much better. But we’re asking parents to ignore the scowls and look at what is in their child’s best interests. Increasing or at least maintaining the tutoring schedule over the summer will pay big dividends when school is back in session and your student is that much closer to catching up to their classmates.
“The kids we are working with have made progress, and we want to keep them on that path and give them the help they need,” Lawrence concludes. “If they take the summer off, they’re not going to make the progress their parents want to see. If anything, they will fall back.
“We want to keep the momentum going.”
Reading Success Plus has offices in Grand Rapids and Troy and offers one-on-one tutoring online or in person in reading, math and writing. You can get more information at readingsuccessplus.com. To contact us, call 833-229-1112 or go online to https://readingsuccessplus.com/#contact.