Balancing Academics and Life
POSTED ON: June 6, 2022
Kids deserve time to be kids, run around with their friends in the sun, cannonball into pools, and enjoy a popsicle on a hot summer day. Summer is also a great time to be creative and incorporate their academic skills into fun activities to avoid cognitive exhaustion and burn out.
At the end of the school year, service providers and special education teachers are met with questions–“What can we work on over summer?” and “What can I do at home to help my child keep growing?”
Summer break is an exciting time for students and their families. At times, parents can feel pressured and overwhelmed to continue to push their kids academically over school breaks out of fear of regression. The intention behind signing their child up for tutoring and summer academic programs is good but can lead to burn out when their summer days are packed in with cognitively exhausting tasks.
Supporting your child to maintain the success they’ve worked hard to achieve is an important goal over school breaks, but reinforcing to your child that other aspects of life have as much value as academics is equally important. We don’t want our students’ self-worth to be tied directly to their academic performance. There are so many other aspects to who they are as people that deserve to be celebrated and highlighted–their work ethic at soccer practice, being a caring friend, taking on responsibilities and helping around the house, their creativity, helping teach a sibling something new, their bravery, etc.
Balance is always a work in progress–even as adults. Here are some ideas to foster balance in your child’s life:
- Incorporating their interests into the academic task
- When working on your child’s reading skills, allow them to pick out a book they want to read or take a trip to the library to borrow a few books about their preferred interests. If your child is working on word problems in math, integrate word problems that are associated with their favorite hobby or activity.
- Create a schedule or routine that incorporates supporting an academic skill they have learned as well as free choice time–something your child looks forward to–or other breaks.
- Children thrive off structure and routines. Just because they’re not in the structured environment at school does not mean that they can’t have routines and expectations over summer that support their skill development. Having a set time throughout the week that is dedicated to reading or spelling can help set a clear expectation that it’s time to work, followed by free play time.
- Create a reward system for practicing their academics over school breaks.
- This can be incorporated into your summer routine, such as for x amount of time spent on reading, they get to go to their favorite ice cream shop, earn additional screen time, get to pick the movie for movie night, etc.
- Ask your providers for summer work.
- Your child’s service providers and teachers are one of the best resources you can use to support them at home. Educators know what your child’s academic goals are and what works for them. Most providers appreciate when their efforts are supported at home, especially when they are not working with your child over school breaks.
Let kids be kids and celebrate their unique interests by showing them how the things they learn during the school year make a difference and can add fun to their summer vacation.