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Get ready for the new school year
Tamara Bogan
Tamara Bogan is head of the guidance department at Bradwell Institute and senior class counselor.

Summer break has recently started for most students in our neck of the woods. Unless your child is attending summer school or summer camp, chances are he/she is lounging around with hours of unstructured time.

You may feel that students deserve a break from reading, writing and arithmetic, because they’ve worked so hard throughout the school year.

I agree with you, but I also know that in order to improve or maintain that level of academic success, children must continue to utilize their brains.

I would like to offer parents and guardians some conventional and nonconventional techniques to assist students in being ready to excel when the school bell rings for the 2017-2018 school year.

The first activity I suggest is journaling.

It’s a way to practice writing skills and hopefully improve them. Provide your child with a list of topics to choose to write about. It could be a current event or simply something that is of interest to your family. After your child completes the entry, you get to read it and respond to the writing.

It’s important that you do not criticize your child’s work. This is opportunity for your child to voice his/her ideas in a non-judgmental setting. Trust me, they will love to read your feedback.

Another activity parents could share with their children is dictionary skills. Dictionary skills, I know you are thinking, “Who needs those when we have Google?”

Knowing how to use the dictionary is a skill that is becoming a lost art, much like cursive writing. (I’ll get to that later.)

Using a plain old dictionary, have your child choose five words to define and list the part of speech. Have your child write the words five times each. Then instruct him/her to make a sentence with each word.

During dinner or any type of family time, quiz your child on the new words but insist he/she gives the definition in own words, not recited. This activity will promote vocabulary acquisition.

Back to the second dying art, cursive writing can be used as a summer activity if your child is old enough.

Cursive writing is usually introduced during third grade. Research indicates that handwriting influences reading, writing, language and critical thinking abilities (Handwriting in the 21st Century? Research Shows Why Handwriting Belongs in Todays Classroom, 2015).

In an era where fingers are constantly texting or swiping, handwriting may seem unimportant and almost nonexistent.

Urge your child to write some of the journal entries in cursive and you can respond in cursive. In addition to journaling, encourage your child to write a friendly letter to a relative or a neighbor.

Not only will this increase his/her ability to read and write cursive, it will help develop a stronger bond with a relative or new friend.

For a younger student who hasn’t been introduced to cursive writing, parents can purchase a beginner’s cursive workbook from a local dollar store and allow the child to complete and practice two to three letters per day.

Of course, I don’t consider my mere suggestions as “The List”; therefore, I suggest that you review your student’s report cards, tests, and past notes from teachers concerning your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Use that information as a guide to build upon those strengths and provide support for the deficits.

Lastly, build in some time for quality summer time fun. Your student deserves it, and so do you!

Happy Summer 2017.

Bogan is head of the guidance department at Bradwell Institute and senior class counselor.

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