Stress-free School Prep:

Summertime Planning Can Make The Transition Back To School Oh-So-Smooth

Boy lying in hammock reading a book outdoors

Sure, school has barely ended, but preparing over the next few months for the upcoming school year can alleviate much of the stress that comes with sending the kiddos off on that big yellow bus on the first day back to school.

Research has shown that, on average, a student’s achievement scores can decline during summer vacation by one month’s worth of school-year learning, and that this decline is more pronounced at higher grade levels. Which means that summertime learning loss — also referred to as the “summer slide” — happens to most kids and it’s important to keep flexing the body’s most important organ (the brain) in a variety of ways.

To help mitigate the summer slide, Wasatch County School District (WCSD) suggests everyone (kids, parents, grandparents) sets a goal to read — or be read to — for at least 20 minutes every day. The district’s #WasatchReads initiative encourages “Every Child. Every Family. Every Night.” to participate in reading year-round, and summer vacation offers ample opportunity to set a total-books-read goal for June, July and August.

To help maximize reading experiences, WCSD’s Director of Elementary Education Eric Campbell recommends parents ask comprehension questions, which can include:

•   Where is the setting of this story?

•   What is this story about?

•   Who is telling the story?

•   What words describe the main character?

•   Does the main character have a problem? What is it?

•   How is the problem solved (what was the solution)?

•   What do you think the author wants you to know after reading?

Campbell also suggests embarking on educational adventures, such as visiting museums, parks, zoos or even the local library. Using flash cards and practicing multiplication tables during car rides can also help kids keep their math chops up over the break.

According to Wasatch County School District Director of Special Education Dr. Ben Springer, road trips offer the perfect opportunity to help kids use their brains all summer long. He suggests activities such as having kids create a map, calculating miles and time between set points along the way (or actually learning to read a map – a lost art in these days of GPS).

When it comes to screen time, Dr. Springer warns that the unstructured summer days can increase the amount of time kids are on their devices. Instead, he suggests parents allow screen time, but also implement structure and limits. And though parents tend to use screen time during long trips to help prevent a chorus of “Are we there yet?” on repeat, opportunities to enhance literacy abound, such as creating travel logs about pre-selected landmarks along the route.

Also, for students entering grades one through five at any WCSD elementary school, the district offers summer school at Heber Valley Elementary from June 10 to July 18, Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon. Reading, math and Dual Language Immersion (DLI) are offered for a nominal fee, with transportation provided from each of the other four elementary schools to Heber Valley Elementary. All fees are waived for students on free or reduced lunch for the 2018 – 2019 school year, and all students ages 17 and under – regardless of economic status – can receive free lunch daily, whether or not they are participating in summer school. Visit the WCSD site at Wasatch.edu for more information.

Summertime is built for fun, and kids’ brains do need a break, but they also need to be engaged in meaningful ways to stay sharp. School-year prep can be fun and fruitful — and can reap positive rewards for that first day back in fall.

Beyond keeping kids’ brains sharp, the following checklists will help parents with the administrative side of getting their kids ready for fall:

All Students:

 Returning students: Be sure to register at Wasatch.edu. ALL students must register every year; registrations do not carry over from the previous year.

 Beginning in August, before the first day of school, visit your child’s school with them to help with the transition between grades and schools.

 Review “lessons learned” with your student from the previous year and set goals and expectations.

Incoming Kindergarteners and 7th Graders:

 Required immunizations must be completed and documented prior to registration.

High School

 Begin college admissions applications and essays (incoming seniors).

 Sign up to volunteer to build your resume (and to be a good human).

 Prepare for standardized tests (ACT, SAT).

 New students: Make an appointment for August to register; call the registrar’s office at 435-654-0640, x3712.

 Inquire about sports tryouts. A physical is often required to try out, so plan ahead.

And, because the next school break cannot come soon enough for many students, here are important dates during the 2019-2020 school year:

Aug. 21:                                   First Day for Students

Aug. 29:                                   Kindergarten and Preschool Begin

Sept. 2:                                    Labor Day

Oct. 17-18:                           Fall Break

Oct. 24:                                   End of First Term

Oct. 25:                                   Professional Development Day (no school for students)

Nov. 27 – 29:                        Thanksgiving Vacation

Dec. 23 – Jan. 1:                 Christmas Vacation

Jan. 9:                                      End of Second Term

Jan. 10:                                   Professional Development Day (no school for students)

Jan. 20:                                   Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Feb. 17:                                   Washington and Lincoln Day

March 19:                              End of Third Term

March 20:                              Professional Development Day (no school for students)

April 6-8:                                PCCR/SSP Days (no school)

April 9-10:                             Spring Break

May 25:                                   Memorial Day

May 28:                                   End of Fourth Term