Gearing up for school

August 8, 2008 9:05:44 PM PDT
It's not always easy to guide students back into the mindset of studying, especially if they've spent the majority of their summer vacation involved in everything, but academics. 9-year-old Julia Hojnaski is entering 4th grade this year and admits she's a little nervous.

"We're going to have science and social studies all year long."

At the end of school last year, Julia was having some trouble with her studies.

"I was struggling with reading."

Her parents decided to use the summer to prepare Julia for the fall. They enrolled her at Sylvan Learning Center.

"I learned about similes and metaphors," Julia said.

Programs like Sylvan work on gaps in students skill levels, and help them get back on track.

"There is something called the 'summer learning loss' where students will lose percentage of their learning that they learned throughout the school year," said Allyson Oakes of Sylvan Learning Center.

Azizah Muhammad has enrolled all 4 of her children in the summer program.

"My kids have short attention spans," she said. "They definitely need that repetition."

"I think they are fuzzy when they get back," said psychologist Richard Selznick.

Selznick said preparation before school starts-up again, is especially important for younger students. That's when they're gaining basic foundational skills like phonics, reading and comprehension.

"You're looking at a good 10 weeks of potential non-academic work."

But it's not too late to get your child re-focused on learning.

"Get some workbooks at the local teacher's stores and maybe practice reading a little bit at their comfort level, practice a little bit of math just to get them back thinking academically," Selznick said.

The key word for parents at this point in the summer is organization.

"Teach them how to be organized students, setting up their notebooks, organizing their planners," Oakes said.

Set up a dedicated area in your house where kids can do their homework, & set reachable goals. Talk to them about the upcoming school year. Also get to know your child's learning style, his strengths and weaknesses. And if a problem arises, don't ignore it.

"It's frustrating as a parent to not know what to do for your child because you see them frustrated and you see them struggling," Oakes said.

Identifying problems early has really helped 10-year-old Quaadir Palmer, who, after several summers in the Sylvan program, is now an A-B student. He's looking forward to the new school year.

"I know alot of stuff because I've been practicing all summer."

These programs do help a lot of students; Sylvan's run about 45-to 50 dollars an hour the same for the Huntington Learning Program, & you can always check with your child's school about other workshops and ways to get ready for the upcoming school year.

For more information: Sylvan Learning Center (also has free online resources)

Huntington Learning Program

Free Library

Time 4 Learning

The Teachers' Café Study Tips