Teacher tip: teach summer school outside.

Tips for Teaching Elementary Summer School

Teaching summer school can be stressful. You have less flexibility and preparation time, and students are counting on you to help them master the standards before school starts.

Here are eight tips to make your upcoming summer school successful for you and your students.

Stop Calling It Summer School

No child likes going to “school” in the summer. Like adults, children think of summer as a time to relax and have fun. Be creative and name your summer school something fun or give it a theme so students will want to go.

Be Honest and Supportive

If you teach mandatory summer school for children who have fallen behind in ELA, morale is probably low. Your students may think they can’t overcome their challenges and learn what they need to.

Address this on the first day by saying something like: “I know you didn’t want to have to come to summer school, but the skills you learn here are extremely important. The work you put in now will pay off next year, and I am here to support you every step of the way.”

Teach them the power of having a Growth Mindset. Boosting their self-confidence will motivate your students to participate in class and do their assignments.

Students learning outside for summer school

Take It Outside

Fresh air is always a plus. If the weather allows and your content material can be taught outside, do it. But before you do, you may want to review behavior expectations. If students can behave, teaching outside makes the day more enjoyable for everyone.

You can also give your students plenty of recess time, which can even boost their ELA skills. (Read Why Children Need Recess to discover all the benefits of giving students long breaks.)

Offer a Class Reward

Rewarding your class for good behavior adds playfulness to the day and can build team spirit. Here’s one idea: bring a box of cake mix to class and put one scoop of it into a bowl each day your class behaves appropriately. When all the cake mix is in the bowl, use it to bake a cake for your students to eat during lunch.

Not a baker? That’s okay! You can come up with your own reward system to make summer school fun for your students.

Try New Strategies

After nine months of instruction, why not mix things up and try new teaching methods?

Summer school is a great time to push your lesson-planning game to the limit. The best part is you can test a new strategy on a smaller group of students and, based on their response, use it during the regular school year.

Showing students something they’ve never seen before is also a real ice-breaker that can draw them into the lesson.

Parent getting involved in summer school learning by reading to their child

Involve Parents in Literacy Development

Parents want their children to succeed, so why not get them involved in the learning process. Guide parents through their child’s goals and suggest specific things they can do to help, like:

    • Taking turns reading aloud with their child
    • Encouraging a summer read-a-thon with small rewards for each book read or reaching a set reading goal.
    • Letting children read directions for how to play a new game
    • Have their child write a grocery list, find things in the store, and read the recipe aloud during cooking time
    • Setting an electronics-free hour each day
    • Encouraging their child to read non-fiction to increase their vocabulary
    • Write short notes to their child, which usually prompt them to write back

Collaborate with Other Teachers

You may not have time to get to know all your students during summer school, so ask your colleagues to lend a hand. Talk to the teachers who taught them during the school year. Their insights can help you meet students’ needs and feel more confident in your instruction.

Don’t hesitate to ask your colleagues in advance to share any education-related documents so that you can review them before the start of the program. Professional development at both admin and teacher levels can be a great start for exchanging and reviewing valuable data.

Studies Weekly ELA or Studies Weekly Summer School Program

Pick High-Interest Summer School Resources

It is crucial not to stick to the same instructional material used during the regular school year, triggering “been there, done that” student reactions. Meg Bowen, a director of elementary curriculum for one of the nation’s largest school districts, said:

“I saw that students who found themselves digging into the same textbooks and workbooks they struggled with during the school year were more likely to emotionally shut down before the first week of summer school came to an end.”

It’s strongly recommended to choose a consumable 4-week program designed for summer school, ideally one with ELA-focused resources, an inquiry-based approach, hands-on activities, and ready-to-go lessons.

Studies Weekly’s new K-5 Extended Learning Curriculum reinforces ELA skills through high-interest social studies and science content. To ensure students stay engaged, each issue revolves around a topic that includes Accidental Innovations, Heroes, Games, Sports, and others. Students can use all four literacy domains – reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

Our curriculum also includes teacher editions with flexible implementation models to make lesson planning easy. Teachers can use the program as independent supplemental reading, short whole-group or small-group instruction, or use the optional activities for deeper learning that takes more of the summer school day.

In addition, because many students are embarrassed about their reading level, make sure there are no visible grade band markers.


Find out more about our new K-5 Extended Learning Curriculum for summer school.

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