From Summer to School

Although it may seem that the summer holidays just began (despite what the weather tells us), the back to school aroma is already working its way through the air. After long, lazy weeks off, just what is the best way to help ease your child back into learning, and how can a tutor help? In this article, I’ll explore a few ways to prepare for the upcoming school year, especially for those language learners out there.

When I was younger, the summer holidays used to stretch before me liked fields filled with endless mischief and adventure. Fast forward to adulthood, however, and they are gone in a flash. Although returning to a routine, and regaining focus, can be hard, there are a few ways to make the transition from empty days back to education a little smoother. First of all, keeping your child’s mind active with activities such as varied reading, days out, or even summer camps, will keep those neurones firing, and stave off any mid-holiday boredom that may set in. For languages in particular, encouraging the viewing of foreign films or cartoons, or reading comics in the target language can be a great way to maintain progress and learning through their time off.

Tuition can also be a handy tool, especially for those kids at or approaching exam age. Many of my students like to have a few refresher lessons in the weeks preceding the start of term, just to wake up the knowledge that may have taken a little nap over the summer months. In these lessons, although work is done, I like to keep the material fun and engaging, as I’m aware that holiday learning isn’t at the top of everyone’s ‘fun’ list. I do find, however, that the transition back into lessons at the start of term is made all the more easier with the help of these pre-school sessions.

A more relaxed approach to sustained progress over summer is for kids to practice writing and speaking in their target language with friends, especially if they have any whose native tongue is said language. If that is not possible, any holidays abroad where a language can be practised will definitely be an asset to both their learning and confidence. Choosing a goal for each day, for example ordering an ice cream, and building up the difficult gradually over the holiday, is a great way to practice both vocabulary and oral skills, all whilst enjoying the sunshine!

When term time rolls around, establishing a normal routine in terms of bedtimes and mealtimes is obviously key to a successful transition. In addition, when it comes to schoolwork, gently easing your child back into homework by slowly increasing the time spent working on it (where possible), especially at weekends, over the first two weeks can be a good way to prevent back-to-school overload. If tuition has taken place in the weeks leading up to term time, continuation of these sessions can also be a great way to maintain a routine, and allow for an easier transition.

No one is ever happy when the holidays are over (expect, perhaps, the exhausted parents), but with a few simple strategies, the back-to-school blues can hopefully be made a little less blue. The reinstallation of an everyday routine, along with some pre-term prep in the form of education disguised as fun, can greatly ease the shift from summer to school, and help with continued progress in a child’s academic subjects. You never know, your kids might even welcome some mental stimulation that doesn’t involve an X and a Box…