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How To Teach Summer School To Young Learners So That They Want To Be In School

If you are working with kindergarten or first grade students during summer school then you understand that there is a certain energy level you will need just to keep up with them. Here are some tips to help you make summer school in the early grades fun for you and for the kids.

Know Their Academic Level

Know your starting point. This is very important because summer school is a very short window. You may only have 4 to 6 weeks of half days with your class. If that is the case, hope it’s a small class. It’s possible end of year information will be provided for you so you won’t have to spend time assessing. Do they know their letters and sounds? How about short vowels? Can they read at all? Do they have any phonological awareness skills such as rhyming, counting syllables, identifying beginning, middle and ending sounds?

Hopefully you will be told what skills your entire group needs. If that’s the case, set up a routine that will involve lots of activities and games that will revolve around those skills.

Have A Routine

Have a simple and predictable routine. If you only have them for a 4 to 6 week window make sure your students can predict the flow of the class. This will ease their anxiety and help you accomplish more each day. My suggestion is to start every day with phonological awareness skills. These skills are the basis and foundation of strong readers. Use oral games, songs and books that focus on rhyming and counting syllables and lots of oral activities with all the other phonological awareness skills (beginning, middle ending sounds, changing parts of a word to make a new words, blending and breaking apart sounds). Also, use props and pictures to connect the visual to the oral which helps keep student interest.

Here is a resource that might help you as you plan and prepare for this part of your day:

summer school phonological awareness cover and link

Another part of your day will be building phonics skills. Depending on your group that might mean working on the alphabet or it could mean working on short vowel words, sight words and decodable phonics passages and books. Here are a couple of different interventions that can help you think through how you need to set up your interventions.

alphabet intervention for summer school cover and link
short vowel intervention for summer school cover and link

Check out these blog posts to help you use these interventions:

How To Use Alphabet Activities To Help Kindergarteners Master Letters And Sounds

This Short Vowel Intervention Is A Joyful Way To Teach Kids How To Read

If you get a chance, you can also do some writing with your students. Writing supports reading and reading supports writing. If they are emergent writers, work as a whole group/ small group sounding out and writing words together. Break the words apart and put them back together – sound out AND read the word and connect reading and writing. If they are more developing writers have them write a sentence or finish a writing prompt. Work on developing how to write a sentence and encourage them to sound out their own words.

As you plan a routine and schedule, break your academic day into 3 parts. One part will be based on phonological awareness skills, the second part will be reading and decoding and the third part will be writing and working on connecting the reading and writing.

Also, use summer themes to make more cohesive connections to their world. Some great theme examples would be a beach/ ocean animals, insects or zoo animals. The writing prompts, books you read to the kids and songs can be based on your theme. But don’t feel the pressure to make everything thematic.

If you also need to incorporate math then break your day into 4 parts to include math OR if time doesn’t permit then omit the writing portion.

Make It Fun

So some of the students might be bummed that they have to be in school over the summer. Other students won’t even know what summer is all about yet. Either way, make learning fun for them! Not every moment will be fun but if there is a game or movement activity that can teach the same concept then do it! Here are a few ways you can add that joy into the day.

These games review skills but allow kids to move and pay attention at the same time:

cover for a phonics bundle of powerpoint games with link

Take a look at all these songs. See if there are some songs that not only go with your theme but can also be used as a brain break or as a song that would teach a particular skill:

cover of 43 song bundle with link
cover of sight word song bundle with link
cover of fairy tale song bundle with link
cover of circle time song bundle with link

Here are some fun games you can do in small groups to focus on specific skills:

cover of beat it games for phonics and math perfect for summer school with link

Extra Motivation?

Sometimes kids need a little extra motivation as they are working hard during the summer. Less is more. Don’t do anything complicated (unless you love that sort of thing). But sometimes just having a fun puppet friend that greets them each day or does some sort of phonological awareness skill with them is a great motivator. Then sometimes you need more. Here is a positive reward system in case you are in need of this for your summer school program. However, less really is more so if you don’t need anything extra (or have time for it) then just use your fun activities and brain breaks as your motivator.

cover of classroom management behavior program with link

The important thing is that summer school is a time of intense learning while having some fun along the way!

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