College academics are challenging. University-level coursework is different from what gets assigned in high school, involving less busywork and more critical thinking. While this can seem daunting, there are things you can do the summer before college to brush up on your skills. Here are some tips from experts.
- Encourage your student to tutor younger kids in math to brush up on basic subjects. Even if it's just for a short time with younger siblings or kids in the neighborhood, there can be a benefit. Math Teacher Bon Crowder says this is a great way to help solidify key math concepts for students. Plus, it's easy to tutor over video chat, which makes it a fun way to reinforce math skills and a safe way to make some extra spending money.
- Have students calculate tips at restaurants when you order in food. This is a simple way to practice basic math skills that they will use when they are on their own.
- Review budgeting basics with them. Have them plan monthly budgets for themselves during the summer so they are prepared for doing it on their own.
- Highlight examples of math in the real world.
- If you are driving to drop them off at their college in person, have your student take charge of packing the car. This requires analytical thinking to figure out how to make all of their belongings fit in the (sometimes small) space of your trunk.
- Encourage your student to read! “You only get better at reading by reading,” Laurie Curtis, former assistant professor at Kansas State University, says. Students can read whatever they want; they get faster at reading by practicing it, and it might inspire a rewarding lifelong habit.
- Read the newspaper. This can be during breakfast together, or leaving it for them to read later. Talk about current events during dinner or other times to go over what you have read. This is not only helpful for literacy, but will ensure your kid knows what is going on in the world.
- Highlight the difference between novels you may read for fun and academic textbooks. Curtis suggests emphasizing that you don’t approach everything you read in the same way. For example, you should survey textbook chapters for titles, subheadings, and bolded words before starting to read them. You likely wouldn’t do this with a fiction novel you are reading for fun.
- Buy a journal for your student and suggest they keep notes and reflections about their summer before college. This is not only a great way for them to practice expressing themselves through writing, but it will be a great memento for them to look back on.
Parent Toolkit resources were developed by NBC News Learn with the help of subject-matter experts, including Laurie Curtis, Retired Professor, Kansas State University; Jocelyn Chadwick, National Council of Teachers of English; Wendy Rock, Assistant Professor, Southeastern Louisiana University; and Bon Crowder, Math Teacher and Blogger, MathFour.com.