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Stay Sharp This Summer

Posted May 20, 2022 in Articles

Author: Cheryl Cook M.S., Upper School Academic Dean

Hone Skills from Home With These Evidence-Based Resources for Middle and High Schoolers

Multiple studies prove skills and knowledge deteriorate during extended time away from class. This is especially true during summer break, when a phenomenon known as the summer slide sets in. For students with learning differences, that summer slide can be even more pronounced. That’s why spending a few hours a week (or even just 15 minutes a day) refreshing academic skills is so important!

Parents often ask me what they can do to support academic growth during the long stretch of summer. Especially when after another busy school year, the last thing their child wants to do is spend their break reading, writing, and doing math. However, there are many ways you can keep learning alive, and have some fun while you're at it! - Academic Dean Cheryl Cook, M.S.

Stay Sharp This Summer


Read and Win Big
The best thing families can do to support growth in any area of reading is to spend time reading. If your child needs a little encouragement, don’t forget about Lawrence School’s summer reading raffle. The prizes are awesome! Click here for details on how to enter. Check your local public library for more summer reading programs and contests.

Books You See & Hear
Use a digital reading tool such as Learning Ally with the VOICEtext feature turned on. Students see the words highlighted on their screen at the same time they hear the audio recording. This look and listen technique is proven to improve both phonemic awareness and fluency. Learning Ally is the largest audiobook library in the world and with 80,000+ titles, there’s something of interest for every reader. Lawrence students in all grades have free access to Learning Ally through their school account.

Ask the Right Questions
When your child is reading, ask what they’re reading about and don’t be afraid to inquire about the details. We use the phrase ‘what do you picture?’ to ask students to surmise a paragraph, page, or chapter they’ve recently read. This strategy, from the Visualizing and Verbalizing program, helps students build comprehension by translating what they’ve read into a visual image in their mind. And no matter their age, if you have the time to read with your child, please do! You can identify vocabulary they find challenging and pause to check for comprehension.

Read Out Loud, Repeat
Reading the same passage three to four times is proven to improve fluency. We use a google app called Fluency Tutor for structured oral reading practice. Using teen-friendly sites such as Tween Tribune or Teen Tribune allow you to change the Lexile level of the article. Magazine articles and poems are also great options for repeated reading. Lawrence students in grades 7-12 can be added to our Fluency Tutor Google Classroom and assigned passages at their individual reading level.

Stay Sharp This Summer


Click, Clickety, Clack
Accurate and efficient typing helps students get their ideas out quickly and without frustration. Typing Pal is a Google App that builds this life skill, while and offer similar exercises. The keyboard can be mastered by anyone through daily practice. Lawrence students in grades 7-12 have free access to Typing Pal through their school account.

Dear Diary
There is power in journaling thoughts, emotions, or simply an account of what happened throughout your day. We use a process called POWER UP to take students through the writing process at school. Start a digital journal to work through the method and document summer adventures.

Quiz Whiz
Improve vocabulary and grammar knowledge with IXL. Lawrence students can access this quiz format website for free with their school account. Define challenging terms, answer questions about grammar rules, and more. Reach out to your child’s language arts teacher if you need help identifying the appropriate level. is another quiz website that is a student favorite and makes learning feel like a game. Lawrence students in all grades have free access to IXL and students in grades 7-12 have free access to Kahoot through their school account.

Stay Sharp This Summer


Living Room Learning
Project Stair is a collection of free videos posted on YouTube by the University of Texas at Austin. They are a great instructional review of concepts like: integers, fractions, coordinate planes, and equations. These foundational concepts are taught in a way that aligns with Lawrence’s multisensory approach. The University of Colorado at Boulder offers a similar video library called PhET that teaches concepts with simulations of visual, real-life examples. If you have questions on which series to begin with, reach out to your child’s math teacher.

Game On
Hit the Button is a popular app we use in our math classrooms to warm up before a lesson. It’s an efficient game-like tool for quick math fact practice. Parents report it’s a convenient resource to install on a cell phone and pull up when you have 10-15 minutes to spare.

Quiz Whiz
Hone your math skills at your own pace with IXL, a quiz format website. From simple numeracy to advanced word problems, IXL has it all and ramps up the difficulty level as students improve. Reach out to your child’s math teacher if you need help identifying the appropriate level. is another quiz website that is a student favorite and makes learning feel like a game. Lawrence students in all grades have free access to IXL and students in grades 7-12 have free access to Kahoot through their school account.

Stay Sharp This Summer

Find the Balance

Be sure to balance intervention with making time for your child to explore their interests and areas of strength. This is critical to fostering a positive self-image and contributes to overall academic success. Here’s a few fun ways to get started:

Think Outside the Box
Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist and inventor. His outlandish drawings of complex machines completing very simple tasks made him a household name. Design your own zany Goldberg machine and put your critical thinking skills to the test!

A Maker Mind
Tinkercad is a free online collection of digital tools that help people all over the world think, create, and make.

Explore the World
Google Arts & Culture makes internationally-renowned museums and other institutions accessible online. Interact with exhibits, collections, artifacts from historic events, and more. You can also travel virtually to countries all over the world with Places and tour major landmarks with Street View.

Shoot for the Stars
Tour NASA’s International Space Station on the NASA website.

Get Outside
Get out and explore nature. The Cleveland Metroparks offer a wide range of parks and trails open for public use.

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