Summer learning strategies, and Caroline is back!

Summer learning matters.  All students experience summer learning loss when they don’t engage in supportive activities during the school break.  On average, students who don’t have learning support lose approximately 2.6 months of grade level equivalency in math over the summer.  Don’t let this happen to your child!

What should you do?

As the school year ends, talk with your child’s teacher(s) to get suggestions for summer math workbooks, pleasure books, and other ideas.  Many schools have suggested summer reading lists.  If your school doesn’t have a list, check out the Association for Library Service to Children here. Also check out great ideas on our Pinterest boards.

Set some goals to motivate your child. For example, you may ask him or her to complete math problems from a grade-appropriate workbook a few times a week, and to read a chapter in a pleasure book several days a week. You can set up a rewards system or just make the work part of the summer schedule.summer reading

We have found great pleasure in reading our children’s summer books at the same time they read them.  It gives us another thing to chat about as we travel and enjoy time with family and friends.

Last summer, our high school son was required to read Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, among other books.  Admittedly, it was a tough start, especially with a writing style far more common to 1818 than today.  It really helped that we read the book at the same time, comparing notes and talking about Shelley’s incredible imagination to create and spin this tale of science and morality.

Summer learning, creatively

  • Visit the library. It’s a great place to promote the love of reading, and the librarian can suggest grade-level books as well as recreational books. Have your child read on his or her own or you can read to your child. Either way, it’s a great way to feed his or her mind over the summer.
  • Connect learning to a vacation. Have your child read about where he or she is going, find it on a map and write a blog about their experiences. While they are at it, have them calculate mileage and costs.  On a personal note, we love Longitude Books, an online bookstore for travelers.  Each year, we purchase a book for each one of us, relating to the trip we have planned for that summer.  (Note that it takes a few clicks to move from the website’s destination guide to recommendations for young readers.)  You’ll read about this year’s Tessien family picks in the July newsletter!
  • Take advantage of local events and culture. Check out museums, the zoo, aquariums, concerts and parks that you don’t usually get to go to or attend during the school year.
  • Use social media and technology to advantage. Have your child keep a travel journal with pictures and safely post friends and relatives about their experiences.summer learning

Summer learning helps your child get a step ahead

If your child needs extra help or enrichment in a certain subject matter, we offer private tutoring throughout the summer. Our experienced and caring educators provide one-on-one instruction designed to meet your child’s learning style. Without the pressures of schoolwork, your child can focus on a subject or two and take the extra time to absorb the information.

We also offer SAT and ACT test preparation. Your high school student can come for one-on-one tutoring or get together with some friends for some small group sessions. However you like to work, take advantage of the summer pace to get a jump-start on fall testing.  Remember, the SAT has a new August 26 test date for 2017!

For rising first, second and third graders, we offer small group writing workshops. The classes are designed to focus on one of the biggest challenges faced in elementary schools, equipping our students to do the TRC (Text Reading Comprehension) written responses to reading comprehension questions. We use age-specific materials to review students’ comprehension skills and to guide them in developing strategies for writing complete and coherent responses. Our tutors select books and activities for different reading level ranges based on the benchmark goals for beginning the next grade.

Contact us to find out more and sign up for summer learning!

She’s back!

Caroline WolfA warm welcome to Caroline Wolf, rising senior at Wake Forest University, who joins us again this summer as our intern.

A native of Naperville, Illinois, Caroline was recruited by a number of colleges to play volleyball.  Thankfully for us, she chose Wake.  Caroline is third-highest on Wake’s list of all-time players for digs, with 518 to her credit so far.

Caroline is majoring in Business and Enterprise Management. This summer, she interns with Wells Fargo and with A Step Ahead.  Starting in July, she will also be in a rigorous pre-season physical conditioning and training program.

Caroline Wolf volleyball

You will see Caroline around the center periodically this summer, especially when Bill and Cynthia are traveling.

Please join us in welcoming Caroline to A Step Ahead!

And of course we are always reading

Our experience with Kwame Alexander’s Out of Wonder (profiled in our May newsletter) prompted us to revisit poetry with a more open embrace.

We turned to a book we first read to our boys when they were young.Summer learning

As Bill and Cynthia prepare for a quick adult hiking trip to Grand Teton National Park, we thought revisiting a book about Native Americans would be interesting and relevant.

So we pulled Long Night Moon off our bookshelf and read it again.

Written by Cynthia Rylant, the poem celebrates the moons we see all year, using the names and traditions of Native Americans.


The verse for June is quoted below.


In June the Strawberry Moon shimmers on succulent buds, on crisp new shoots, on quiet, grateful rabbits.  There is in the dark a moonlight meal.


We followed the sweet experience of revisiting Long Night Moon with a less-sweet experience that surprised us.  Our other choice for this month was Jenny of the Tetons, by Kristiana Gregory.

This is historical fiction; the story of an orphaned teenage girl who goes to live with a trapper (Beaver Dick Leigh), his Shoshone wife (Jenny) and their children in the 1870s. Leigh Lake and Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park are named after the real-life characters in this story. Reviews suggested this book was intended for children 10-14, so we thought it a perfect pick for summer learning before our trip.

The story has many good qualities, exploring both harsh relationships and the possibilities for tolerance and friendship between white settlers and Native Americans.  But the story also includes brief accounts of some of the more grim aspects of pioneer life.

A few of those grim accounts are quite graphic as they address adult themes.  The language is brief, but clear, and we would caution parents to read the book first if they are considering recommending it for their children.  So in this case, we didn’t include a link to the book here or a posting to Pinterest, and we’ll keep our copy of the book at home, not at the center.

You never know unless you keep reading.  That’s what we will do.

Happy summer!  Keep learning!

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