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Summer school: last chance or great advance?

  • summerschool
    Photo: Ed B of Flickr Creative Commons




When I was a kid, summer school was a four-letter word.  Rumored to contain the toughest criminals or the hardcore slackers, public school in the summertime was the last stop on the loser train. 

Fast- forward to my years as a teacher in Harlem.  Adamantly refusing to teach during summer months, I had stopped in for some planning for the following year.

And boy, was I shocked!

Summer school was a serene, peaceful version of the regular school year.

In other words, it was like a different school.

Teachers worked with groups of 12, placing them in small groups for activities.  There was that low hum of activity comes from students who are really engaged: teachers, seasoned or not, know that sound well.

A couple of days ago I of visited summer school in North Philly at the start of the day, and I noticed a similar hum.  Teachers were markedly calm—there were no frantic directives to kids, no late slips to fill out, and lots of interaction with parents.  With over 40,000 kids in Philadelphia participating, could it be true that summer school can offer the type of paradigm within which both teachers and students can thrive?

And no longer are summer school kids just those who missed out on learning during the Fall and Spring. Nowadays kids are in programs, academic and otherwise, that enrich their life experiences. Kids can even get on-the-job experiences with their peers.

As some summer programs draw to a close, students and families can rest assured that summer learning can never really be a bad thing.

Has your child participated in a summer school program? Tell us about the good and the bad by weighing in here.

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