Set Your Summer Learning Goals
If you have a child who could benefit from summer learning, setting goals can help your student catch up, stay on track, and develop important life skills. Here are some strategies to weave summer goals into your academic year!
Summer Strategy for Summer Enrichment
If your family typically reserves academics for the school-year calendar, then the right kind of summer learning can reap tremendous benefits throughout the rest of the year. Summer is a great time to hone in on specific areas where your child struggles, information that they missed, or portions of their education that took a back seat during the regular school year. Perhaps you are concerned about “summer slide,” which describes learning loss due to the extended school break, or you want to preview upcoming content to get a jump start on the next school year. Each of these reasons supports the use of summer enrichment, where summer learning goals can yield big dividends.
Here are a few goal-setting tips:
Base summer goals on what your child needs the most: Look at school report cards or homeschool records for the past year to identify any trouble areas or challenging subjects. Strengthen foundational skills or teach valuable strategies that have been missed or not fully mastered.
Include summer goals that are doable for your child: Set goals that are attainable to build your child’s confidence. Nourish your whole child – be sure to add goals that are based on your child’s strengths and interests. This way, learning can be celebrated even if it is difficult sometimes. These learning experiences can build confidence and fill that “emotional bank account” for more challenging academic tasks over the summer or when your child returns to school.
Look beyond typical academic subjects: Summer is a great time to pick up a hobby or learn a foreign language. You can also provide much-needed enrichment in socio-emotional and behavioral areas, the arts, or life skills related to the home or career.
Design summer goals that allow children to still enjoy the break: When possible, create summer learning goals that are different from those in the regular school year, and keep focused learning to brief periods to allow your child some freedom to enjoy summer.
Summer Strategy for Homeschooling Year-Round
If you are a year-round homeschooler, you see the value in spreading out learning, taking shorter, more frequent breaks, and capitalizing on a flexible schedule. However, summer goals may be a bit challenging for you as you balance these benefits with the fear of homeschool burnout.
You may choose to follow some of the tips listed above, but there are some additional things to consider when you homeschool through the summer:
Take specific measures to avoid burnout: Since your child’s learning continues through the summer, use our homeschool burnout prevention checklist for ideas on how to mix things up. Create summer goals that allow for flexible changes in schedules and types of activities (i.e., more experiential and outdoor learning). Shake up learning with spontaneous field trips and other adventures.
Celebrate goal completion: As a year-round homeschooler, your child may experience what feels like one school year blending right into the next. Create summer goals with deadlines that mark the completion of accomplishments that can be celebrated. Be sure to reflect on those summer learning goals before beginning the next leg of your homeschool journey.
Personalize goals tailored to their favorite activities: Think about what your child enjoys most about summer and tailor some summer goals around these activities. For example, if your child loves being in the pool, make a physical education goal around learning a new swim stroke. If your child enjoys hiking in the woods, pull in science goals around animal or plant biology. Who knows? You may be able to sneak in some learning without your child even realizing it!
Summer Goal Setting for Students
So how do you set summer goals for students? First, remember that a good goal is SMART, meaning that it is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Determine which academic areas are most relevant for your child: Are there areas in which your child struggled or concepts that your child did not fully understand? Which topics interested your child the most (where your child could be pushed to learn more)? Which skills or strategies will be most important for reinforcement to avoid “summer slide” and get ready for next year’s content?
Determine which non-academic areas to target: Does your child need support in areas like self-regulation, executive function, socio-emotional strategies, or leadership? Would your child benefit from experiences in visual arts, drama, or music? Can you provide opportunities to reach socialization goals through fun family summer activities?
Target relevant goals that will build confidence: Notice areas where your child has anxiety and work to build skills and strategies in those areas. Find strengths and provide opportunities to use those strengths. Build confidence through your learning, and don’t be afraid to challenge your child to learn a new language over the summer or complete a summer reading list that is within their potential.
Write goals for summer that are measurable and achievable: For academic areas, write subject-specific goals on things like reading, math, and science. For non-academic areas, write goals that target the use of specific skills or strategies. Plan a combination of goals that will both support areas of need and build on strengths, keeping in mind the ultimate goal of increasing confidence for the upcoming year.
Create an end-date for student learning goals: Pick the actual date when your summer goals must be completed. On that date, be sure to review those with your child, and celebrate successes with a fun reward!
How Time4Learning Can Help with Summer Goal Setting for Students
Setting and assessing learning goals over the summer may take a little time, but programs like Time4Learning can be great partners. Whether you incorporate Time4Learning as an after-school supplement or as the foundation of your homeschool curriculum, you can use the reports to help you evaluate your child’s progress and identify learning gaps.
You can also use Time4Learning’s instructional videos to review or preview content; quizzes and tests can be retaken as many times as your child needs to in order to reach a given standard or to achieve mastery. Also, by accessing a prior or future grade level, you can reinforce learning or help your child get ahead and stay ahead. Time4Learning can support both summer enrichment and is available for those doing year-round homeschooling.
Summer Goal Setting for Parents
Equally important for your child’s success is your own goal setting! Parents need to know what they want for their children’s education and be clear about their roles in that process. Homeschool parents need to stay engaged and avoid homeschool burnout, too, just like their kids. In addition to being an optimal time to set student learning goals, summer can be a great time to reflect on the prior year and establish parent goals.
Reflect and evaluate: You can begin to set parent goals by first evaluating the school year and reflecting on your child’s progress. Use the recordkeeping tools you have available, including grade reports, work samples, and test results, to examine whether your child has met the goals that you set for the school year. Reflect on the effectiveness and efficiency of your homeschool processes. Then, determine where changes need to be made.
Set long-term parent goals for the next school year: Based on the results of your reflection, set some long-term goals for your homeschool. These should establish your priorities and be realized by the end of the next school year. For example, you may decide that you need to become more organized when keeping homeschooling records or that you need to help your child build confidence in math.
Set short-term parent goals for the summer: Break down those long-term goals into short-term goals that reflect what you need to do to meet those bigger goals next year. For example, you may set a goal to research options for homeschool recordkeeping or ideas for building confidence.
How Time4Learning Can Help with Summer Goal Setting for Parents
Time4Learning not only provides you with tools for evaluating your child’s progress, but also connects you with resources to help you meet your parent goals. Join ournewsletters and browse our blog for great ideas and success stories. Explore the curriculum to discover all the options and add-ons that can be used to enrich your child’s experience, and connect with other homeschoolers through Time4Learning’s social media groups.
Summer is a wonderful time to take a break, but it is also a valuable time for reflecting and setting goals for both you and your child. This summer, set a new trajectory for your child’s learning!