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Classroom Secrets

by Rob Stringer

Ahhh summer vacation – a time for your kids to kick back and relax, to forget about classroom routines and to lose themselves in some hard-earned play time. But July also offers you and your kids the time to reflect and help ensure everyone doesn't just get through the year but also gets something from it.

Don't wish it were easier. Wish you were better

Take some time this month to sit down and reflect on the year. What parts of it do you all wish had been easier? Certain subjects? Relationships? Routines? Try to think about the whole year, not just the end. Past report cards can be a great source of information – often pointing out our areas of weakness and next steps to help strengthen them. Make a list of all the academic or personal skill areas in which you or your kids would like to improve or strengthen skills.

Don't wish for fewer problems. Wish for more skills

Your children may have struggled through certain subjects or topics this year, but remember, most are repeated year after year – only getting harder and more complex with each upcoming grade. For example, did someone have difficulty with some aspect of reading, writing or math? Then be sure to make good use of July and August by putting a plan in place to help strengthen these skills before September. This might include:

? Practising the skill. Sometimes all that is needed is more practice – a chance to use the developing skills over and over.

? Re-learning the skill. If a student doesn't understand how to do something, then practice alone will never help. Sometimes we need to teach things three to five different ways before we come across a method that makes sense to particular students.
? Seeking support. There is never any shame in seeking the assistance of others, be they friends, family, agencies, or professionals. If you are not meeting with success, or are becoming too frustrated yourself, get help. It could be the best thing for you, your children, and your relationship.

Do the same. Get the same

Each year I tell my classes that learning may take work (hard work in some cases), but it doesn’t have to be boring. The same can be true with summer review. There are lots of ways to make it interesting including trying to integrate topics or activities your kids enjoy into the subject being studied, playing teaching games, chunking "review time" into short blocks.

But no matter how interesting you try to make it, sometimes it simply comes down to hard work. If anyone starts to complain, try to help them remember how much more they will enjoy next year when they "get it.” Knowing how to read, add, multiply, write proper sentences and how much less time they may have to spend doing homework next year once they strengthen their skills. So enjoy the summer – take some time to rest up – just not too long before you sit down and help your family get from their year.

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