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Three ways middle and high school students can make the most of the summer
  • Calendar Jun 12, 2019
  • User Jared Wells
  • Category In Uncategorized
  • Comments 0 Comments

SAT/ACT prep

For rising Juniors, getting SAT/ACT prep out of the way over the summer can be a godsend for them. Junior year is often the most academically challenging year, and is the most consequential year as far as grades go. Doing test prep over the summer give students one less thing to worry about, and more time (and mental energy) to devote to getting a stellar GPA.

For rising Seniors, who either haven’t taken the SAT/ACT yet (or have but are unhappy with their scores), they should take advantage of the whole summer to prep. It isn’t about making test prep a full time job, but it is about not procrastinating and creating consistent practice over weeks so that the student doesn’t feel like they’re cramming but can reflect on the work they are doing and make changes/improvements. If nothing else, taking a lot of practice exams (while analyzing their errors) can help them learn some important lessons and give them experience taking a four-hour exam.

Foreign language immersion

Why is it that students take so many years of foreign language in high school (and college) and still can’t have a basic conversation in the language? A big part of the reason is that conversation is not what students are practicing in their foreign language classes. They are learning vocabulary and grammar, but they aren’t practicing using it outside of written exams. They speaking that they do in class is usually scripted, not spontaneous. Most importantly, because they aren’t building confidence in their ability to speak, they are hesitant and not getting the practice that they need!

The solution is immersion. There are many great ways to do this

-immersion classes (group or long as the objective is to focus on speaking the language...we’re offering a Spanish conversation workshop this summer!)

-language exchanges: these are (online) services that match language learners with someone who knows the language you are trying to learn, and is trying to learn the language you know. So, for example, if you are a native English speaker and are trying to learn French, you’ll be matched with a native French speaker trying to learn English. These aren’t lessons per se (though your partner will give you feedback, just as you’ll give your partner feedback). Rather it’s just practice speaking and hearing the language spoken. Italki is a highly recommended language exchange service.

-Any friends or family members speak the language? Have them talk to the student in only that language (and answer only to that language).

There are three keys here:

  1. The student has to buy into it. Something requiring the mental effort (not to mention getting over shyness!) of learning to speak a foreign language needs to be entered into willingly by the student.
  2. The student has to get out of the mindset of not speaking unless they are confident they are 100% correct. Focus on getting your ideas out there (however imperfectly). A student that makes 1000 errors in speaking over the summer is going to be lightyears ahead in their speaking ability than a student who makes no errors because they didn’t try.
  3. The practice needs to be consistent. Daily is ideal.


Besides the fact that many high schools require community service (and many colleges do as well) community service is a great way for students to see the power they have to make changes in their communities. Looking at the problems that the world and the USA are facing can leave people (and in particular, young people) powerless to change things for the better. Community service can be very empowering in that a student who might feel powerless with respect to huge problems like “ocean pollution” or “poverty” can see the impact they can have with a beach cleanup or working at a free clinic. That empowerment can show up in all kinds of ways in their lives outside of community service.

Community service doesn’t have to be some big organized thing either. It can be a simple as your family spending an hour picking up litter at a local park or neighborhood.

Start the summer off right by asking your student “What would you like to accomplish this summer?”

Looking for guidance on how to keep your kids' skills sharp this summer? Give Vince a call at 858.551.2650 or email


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