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School’s out for summer.
And for a child, those six weeks of summer holidays can seem like an entire lifetime.
However, if your kids don’t take advantage of the time available to them over the break, the return to school could come as an uncomfortable shock. And, some activities are better than others in preparing young children and teenagers for a successful new year.
Limit screen time and encourage social play and learning
For primary-aged kids your focus for summer break should be limiting passive screen time, while encouraging them to learn new things or engage in active play.
Primary school teacher Melissa Murga says summer holidays are a great time for children to learn and safely enjoy time outside in nature with friends and family.
“I encourage my students to practise simple numeracy task and integrate them into everyday holiday life,” Murga says.
She encourages her students to do simple things. “Counting, addition and subtraction when shopping or planning for various Christmas events can be a fun way to practice.”
It all adds up.
“Children and parents can also use the summer break to learn something new – whether that’s playing in the garden, swimming, painting, drawing, baking or learning a new sport,” says Murga. “The possibilities are endless.”
If you’re stuck for ideas, head to your local library and encourage your kids to learn more about a new topic or hobby.
What’s important, Murga stresses, is that the whole family engages in new activities together.
“Learning together as a family throughout the holidays is a good way to continue strengthening the skills learned at school throughout the year,” Murga says, “and it inspires an ongoing sense of curiosity and shows children the value of learning.”
Summer is also a great time to foster your child’s love of books.
Murga recommends that children continue to read every day with an adult.
Beyond reading, kids should extend their writing skills in other fun ways. “Encourage your children to practise writing Christmas cards or letters, ‘reviewing’ movies they might see or keeping a simple ‘holiday journal’ or secure blog.”
Summer holidays are the perfect time to get creative.
If your child has been staring into a screen for more than an hour or two, it’s time to hit the ‘off’ switch.
Limiting screen time and encouraging students to get outside in the sunshine is a great way to help children have meaningful and fun holidays.
Murga says a great way to encourage children to exercise their creativity is by inventing new games to play with friends and family.
Over summer, students should take the opportunity to learn something new
Teenagers often see the summer holidays as the perfect opportunity for a sleep in, but a little work between the rest and play will set them up for the new school year.
Completing any set homework and getting a jump on the next year’s program will give them a much-needed heads up says Sam Crocket, a teacher at Melbourne High School.
“To prepare for the following year in English, the first thing I would recommend students do over the summer is read their prescribed English text.”
To strengthen their skills in English composition, Crocket suggests keeping a journal of their summer experiences.
“I would also encourage students to try more creative activities,” Crocket says. To read widely, to write stories or make art, depending on what they find comfortable.
“Students should make a habit of reading the paper or news websites at least once per week in order to stay up to date with current events,” Crocket says.
“They could pick one issue they feel particularly strongly about, follow it in the media, and then try their hand at writing a letter to the editor.”
Students in years 11 and 12 might need a more intense focus on their subjects and should set up positive study habits.
Crocket encourages students to read their unit guides to prep for the year ahead.
“Once they’ve looked through the subject study design, I get my students to write down things they might be interested in learning the following year. They write three big questions about the course. Then in the new year, we go through those questions.”
He explains this practice develops student curiosity about the subject and builds motivation.
“If they are particularly keen, students can download the study design for the respective subject and work through the key knowledge section, and highlight any things they’re interested in.”
Students should then look up any points they don’t understand and make notes to ask their teacher, he advises.
To really establish a strong foundation, Crocket suggests students could get a head start on next year’s textbooks by attempting a series of questions from each chapter.
But summer shouldn’t be consumed by homework, and it’s important that your teen also has time to relax and catch up with friends.
“Students should relax, unwind, develop friendships, keep active, and exercise,” Crockett says. Part of preparing for the new year is to make sure they are energised for the new year.
Each parent should make sure their child takes advantage of their time away as much as possible and comes back to the new year feeling refreshed and ready to pursue the year’s goals.