How in the world does the word “summertime” end up in the same sentence with the word “school” here? Well, to begin with, deadlines for writing articles about back to school issues are already here. And my first draft of a commentary on the key to homework success is due next week. Yikes! And like it or not, our children’s summer vacations are going to be over before we know it. So we will be thinking about the new school year all too soon anyway. Double yikes!
This got me to thinking about my own family’s achievements and letdowns in the realm of homework, and whether or not our summertime activities have played any role in our own relative success here. And in actuality, I think that there is a rather profound connection between a happier return to school and the routines that we developed and maintained over the summer months.
Let’s face it. A big part of success in school (like life itself) is all about maintaining routines. And getting your homework done is a great example of the need for routines. Unfortunately, one of the most common places for students to lose ground in their grades is by not completing homework. And homework is given on a routine basis. So the completion of homework must become habitual. Of course, that’s part of what my back to school article is all about, so for more specifics on homework you’re going to have to wait for that article to be written and published… stay tuned!
In the meantime, however, we can borrow one idea from that article to discuss habits and the connection to summertime activities. We know that there are good habits, and then there are habits that are not so good. One helpful habit during the school year is to have some routine time that is set aside each day specifically for the completion of homework. Over the summer, your children don’t have homework to complete, right? But you might get them involved in a summer reading program (or set one up of your own!). Sitting down and reading a book is a perfect substitution for homework. And for most children and teens, it’s more fun.
Yes, I said teens. Over the years our family has managed to keep our teenagers engaged in reading by sharing books that my wife and I were reading as well. It was like our own personal book club, really. And, if you pick books that are a little bit “edgy” in some manner, you get a double bonus. Your teenagers are actually reading books instead of texting their friends on a nonstop basis and, at least on occasion, you also get the chance to engage in interesting conversations about what they think about certain topics.
One quick mention of a not so good habit that commonly sprouts over the summertime months: later bedtimes. You don’t need a lecture from me about this, and our family certainly relaxed bedtimes in the summer, too. That said, we have always been strategic in easing our family back into a more regular routine in the week before the start of school. Sure there is grumping and groaning in our household about this every year, but those protestations are nothing in comparison to the “disturbance in the force” that we have witnessed when we haven’t been as tactical.