While summer is a great time to relax and enjoy the beach, students want to keep their minds active and in good shape for the fall. The best way to prevent summer learning loss is to pick up a good book, and you can read high-quality titles at a leisurely pace. In the process, you will be keeping your mind active and ready to take on school in the fall.
Summer Reading Lists
Many private schools have required summer reading lists, but if you are still looking for some good titles, you may want to start with the ten most commonly read books in private high schools. These titles include a great deal of Shakespeare and time-honored classics such as Harper Lee's classic To Kill A Mockingbird. The ten most commonly read books in independent schools are as follows:
- Shakespeare's Macbeth
- Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
- Shakespeare's Hamlet
- Shakespeare's Julius Caesar
- Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn
- Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter
- F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby
- Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird
- Homer's The Odyssey
- William Golding's The Lord of the Flies
- John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men
- Thornton Wilder's Our Town
In addition to perusing these titles, students might be interested in reading novels written about private school life, which include the following:
- J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye
- Curtis Sittenfeld's recent novel Prep
- Tobias Wolff's Old School
- Nora Johnson's The World of Henry Orient
- John Knowles's A Separate Peace
These titles may appeal to students in private schools and those about to enter private schools, as they take place in private schools past and present and acquaint readers with the culture of these schools. Prep is a recent book that discusses the role of race, class, and background in a competitive private school world. The author attended the The Groton School, an elite boarding school in Massachusetts. The World of Henry Orient, a novel about two friends at a Manhattan girls' school, was made into a very entertaining movie starring Peter Sellers and Angela Lansbury, and students can watch the film while enjoying the book.
Careful reading of summer titles can also help students improve their study skills. Students can read with a pen or highlighter in hand and, while not ruining their reading pleasure, can annotate key moments in the text, important details about characters, and unfamiliar words. This process will improve students' reading comprehension skills and their vocabulary, which will help them be better students in the fall. The slow pace of the summer allows students to read carefully and with an eye towards thoroughly comprehending the books.
Summer Math Games
If books aren't enough of a draw to tear students away from video games and television, there are other ways to avoid summer learning loss at your doorstep. For example, you can visit a museum and use math games in the kitchen in activities like baking and cooking. Younger kids can use measuring cups to review concepts such as fractions, and they can also double or halve recipes to practice operations with fractions. Kids are often more motivated to use math in practical applications, particularly if treats such as cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies are involved.
If you are looking for more structured lessons, use this eight-week summer home learning program. The program, designed for students in early elementary school, has components related to math, reading, writing, and social studies. The program uses links to sites such as the Washington Post's Kid Post, which features kids' games, news, photos, book clubs, and other articles. This site is a good way to connect young kids with other kids and to get them reading the newspaper on a regular level. They may even want to revisit the site when school starts in the fall.