How to make sure your teenager doesn’t fall behind over the summer when crucial exams are looming

GCSEs (and National 5s if you are in Scotland) are tough there’s no doubt about it and encouraging your child to revise is important. However, most of the advice for parents about how to help your child seems to be focussed on encouraging revision at Christmas before mocks and at Easter before the main event.

Summer holidays are fundamental to exam success

But what about the long summer holidays? This is a critical period for children during their later secondary years. There’s a large body of research and evidence that reveals that children can lose as much as 2 months’ worth of learning, knowledge and skills over the summer break.

It can take weeks for students and their teachers to catch up (eating into valuable time that ought to be spent on learning new material). And for some children, the loss of learning over the summer break has an ongoing and compound effect, meaning they never really catch up or achieve the results they were capable of.

Ensure ongoing learning

There’s been a lot of debate in parliament and between academics about whether the summer holidays should be reduced to minimise the impact of summer learning loss but at the moment, in most cases the responsibility is left to the parents.

Yet the summer holidays are often overlooked and seen as an important time to take a break and recuperate and we agree. But it’s equally important, if not more so, to ensure that your child keeps up a measure of learning over the summer – building their confidence, knowledge and ability, helping them to catch up and to progress in all the key areas.

The two options you have to avoid summer learning loss

Faced with the twofold responsibility of ensuring your child doesn’t fall behind and achieves their full potential, you’re left with two options.

Option 1 - Do it yourself tutoring

You can always design your own summer programme of learning. This can be:  entirely driven by you, with you planning and delivering learning sessions in all the key areas; driven by your child – with you just acting as chief whip cracker and badgerer but your child deciding on what work they should do; or a combination of the two.

Things you need to bear in mind if you are considering this option:

  • You may still need to buy materials such as revision books etc.

  • You need to be disciplined. There will be times when one or other of you is just too busy or not in the mood and it’s easy to let summer learning slip and find much of the holiday has gone by without any.

  • You need to be able to help your child with their work which means understanding whatever maths, science, French or English problem they’re struggling with. You also need to know a little bit about modern teaching techniques. They may not be teaching your child maths in the same way you learnt to do it and you can confuse your child by trying to show them different methods.

  • You need to ensure there is some structure to the learning which means getting clear on where they are, where they should be for their age and how you can get them there.

  • You need to get the right balance between work and play and you might even want to involve someone else in the work side of things. It’s easy for tempers and frustrations to flare when parents and children are working together, and this is usually counter-productive.

On a positive note, this is a flexible and affordable option for some families who are committed and disciplined.

Option 2 – Summer tuition or summer school

The good news is that research has revealed that just 1 or 2 hours of private tuition can make a big difference to summer learning loss and your child’s progress. That said, the difference in the cost of summer tuition can vary enormously and can sometimes make it prohibitive. But there are plenty of affordable providers (we’re one of them) out there.

The advantages are:

  • Providers should be experienced and familiar with the curriculum and what is expected of your child. Providers should be able to use their skill and expertise in order to use key subjects such as maths and English to help develop other important skills such as reasoning, problem solving and analytical thinking.

  • Someone else is teaching your child normally in much smaller groups than when they’re at school – so your child gets the individual attention they deserve but there isn’t the added pressure and tension of working with your parents!

  • Good private tuition providers will tailor their summer tuition classes to suit your child, meaning they get exactly the right amount of help in the areas they need it – whether that’s to stop them falling behind or to help them excel! And that means you don’t have to spend hours trying to figure out what you should be doing with your child.

  • You don’t have to buy any additional materials.

  • A well-structured programme should be fun, with the right balance between work and play. And because it becomes a scheduled event on your calendar, you are guaranteed it’ll take place on a consistent and regular basis. As you start to plan around it, learning doesn’t encroach into other summer holiday activities either.

A structured summer learning programme is an easy and affordable solution for most families which can deliver impressive results.

Summer learning isn’t really an option

We all want to give our children the best chance of success, especially when it comes to GCSEs and National 5s which, let’s face it, are hard enough. And although long summer holidays doing nothing might appeal, when you start to understand quite what a negative impact this can have on the ultimate grades that your child gets, it means summer learning is a must.

The MagiKats summer learning programme

Of course, teenagers will be teenagers. We know that means that you may get the odd eye roll or slammed door when you suggest some summer learning. And how you package and deliver it will be one part of its success.

At MagiKats we’ve designed a summer learning programme that is structured, easy to access, affordable, effective and fun!

It tackles the key areas such as maths and English and helps develop other important skills too. In short, if gives your child the best possible chance of success in their exams and it helps make sure your summer break is a stress free one. And we generally find that our students love getting out of the house to come to one of our sessions.

Find out more or book a provisional appointment here