Increasingly, parents ask me what they should be doing with their older students during summer break. It makes sense: articles abound about preventing the summer slide and reading with teenagers.
Parents ask me as a teacher, and I’ll be honest… I’ve been reluctant to say much. I always encourage library reading programs and stressing family values through literature. Still, as a teacher, I have never interacted with my students over the summer at their homes! I didn’t want to presume I understand their summers. Personally, I see summer break with teenagers as an opportunity to increase reading & provide alternative learning opportunities. Summer writing activities can incorporate family values and family history. However, every family is different and as a teacher, I want to respect cultures and backgrounds. Sometimes I clam up when parents ask questions because I don’t know the big picture of summer breaks.
I still don’t, completely. However, I am about six months away from living with a teenager, and I know what I am doing with him this summer. Along with family vacations and sleeping in, we’ll be reading and writing. Here are some of my plans, and I hope you can implement these ideas with your older students during summer break.
I write alongside my students, and I write with my children. We don’t write essays together, but we do write. Here are a few writing activities.
Write your holiday card.
Actually, I would love some help with the holiday card. We have family everywhere across the globe, and not everyone uses Facebook.
My plan is to have each one of my children write a paragraph about the previous school year, and to ask my oldest child to write the introduction and conclusion. I’ll edit with him. Then in November, we might add a few final thoughts.
Write to a relative.
Who doesn’t love traditional mail? Create or buy a few simple cards and write a few sentences to relatives. You’ll be sharing funny stories, connecting with family, and writing in one project.
Create a scrapbook or compile a digital book.
Years ago, I created elaborate scrapbooks. I’ve mostly switched to digital ones (like from Shutterfly), but they still require writing. As a bonus, I love “hearing” my children’s voices in their writing. Their prose really makes the scrapbook special.
Really? So many parents confide that they can’t work with their children and their writing. Yes! Absolutely, you can help your child with writing. You don’t need the exact phrasing that English teachers use. Having honest conversations and working together goes a long way in practicing writing.
I purposefully model reading with my children. I try. Like so much with parenting, I’m sure I fall short. Still, I have books around the house in almost every room. I am deliberate in putting down my phone and picking up a book. Here are a few other ideas for reading with teenagers.
Teens enjoy listening to books. I read a chapter or two of a book aloud daily. My son and I have interesting conversations about characters. As he ages, our conversations will become more mature. I use literature as a way to teach our family values and beliefs about the world.
Investigating different genres.
Go to the comic book store. Explore a fun piece of history. My son adores graphic novels, and we spend time searching for the best ones.
Join the library program.
Library programs are free and sometimes, they have awesome prizes! We are intentional about checking books out from the library and filling out our forms.
I do the program alongside my children. Sometimes I borrow PD books, and other times, I read for fun. I simply am aware that I’m modeling reading for my kiddos.
Since I began my teaching career, parents have increasingly asked how to prevent the summer slide and how to work with their older students during summer break. As a parent of a teen (almost), I try to keep him busy. He’ll attend chess camp and STEM camp. We’ll read together and complete some writing projects. He’ll also bike ride, play on his phone, play video games, and lounge in his pajamas till midmorning.
Like so much with older kiddos, balance over summer break seems key. To all the teachers, I hope you can share this post with parents if they ask how to stop the summer slide. To all the parents, I hope you make these ideas your own.
What do you plan to do with your teen this summer? Melissa at Reading and Writing Haven has a few ideas of her own.