How to Start and Run a Summer School Program

Meta: Learn what you need to know about starting and running a summer school program through our comprehensive planning guide. Read now!

Summer has finally arrived, but this summer is unlike the others. For some students, Spring Semester blended into the Summer and will continue through the Fall. For others who closed the chapter on the 2019-2020 school year, additional learning could still await them as they make up for lost educational opportunities and prepare for the next school year. 

Although the two words “summer school” tend to strike fear in most students’ psyche, there are benefits to a high-quality summer school program that school professionals must be aware of. With the right approach, you can have students of all ages clamoring to enroll, especially with the loss of learning that may have occurred due to recent school closures. 

Summer School Planning Guide

Of course, there are negatives associated with summer school. Students do not usually want to attend school during those three months off. For most, going to school during the summer would seem like more of a punishment than a reward. 

With that said, there is a definite learning loss that happens with students of all ages during the summer when they are not exposed to learning opportunities. Often called the “summer slide,” students return to school in August with gaps and holes in what they have already learned. For instance, the Northwest Evaluation Association’s (NWEA) research has shown that summer learning loss in math and reading from third to eighth grade was more extensive than previously thought. The research illustrated a loss of school year gains anywhere from 20 to 50 percent with a tendency to increase as the student grows older. With the added COVID slide, the need to remediate for learning loss means that some schools are leaning into summer school to make up for lost instructional time.

By knowing how to start a summer school program that kids (and their parents) are excited to attend, it’s important to know the best practices to designing a summer school program that will maintain and increase student achievement. This includes creating the ideal summer school planning template that encourages the use of technology— to be used by all educators in your schools. In addition, developing the proper school-age summer program lesson plans will get the whole district talking about the new engaging methodology and have students excited about the beginning of summer for a very different reason than usual. 

How to Start and Design a Summer School Program

If you would love to make your summer school program stand out from the rest and raise student achievement at the same time, follow these recommendations listed below.

Be Certain You Have the Qualified Staff

  • Try to incorporate all teachers, even if it is only for a lesson or two during the summer. Each teacher has their own strengths that they can offer to the students.

  • Bring in qualified professionals from the local community that can also provide amazing lessons that will have the students excited. 

Allow for Differentiation

  • It’s important to differentiate all lessons for students of all learning levels, including those with learning disabilities or other academic struggles. The lessons should be all-inclusive classes so that no one is turned away. 

  • Prepare ahead of time, and the differentiation will run much more smoothly. If possible, avoid trying to differentiate on the fly. 

Involve Technology in Every Lesson

  • Students tend to love technology. By combining technology into every lesson plan, you will likely keep their interest throughout the process. 

  • Keep class sizes small (whether in person or in online groups) so that even students who struggle with tech will be able to keep up with the rest of the students. Students will be getting introduced to new technology, so they may need a bit more guidance than usual. 

How to Run Your Summer School Program

A new summer school program will need a bit of leadership to make it successful. Consider these tips to make it run more smoothly. 

Have a Variety of Classes and Activities to Choose From

When planning a summer school program, you’ll need to consider the whole student population. If you are only offering classes to increase reading achievement, you may lose out on the students who are more interested in math. Variety is the name of the game. 

Allow for Volunteers 

  • Parents can often make the absolute best volunteers during summer school. Plus, if they are volunteering, there is a good chance their own child is participating. 

  • Accept help from older students. For instance, if you are running a summer school program in the Arts for middle school students, allow high school students to assist. The relationships that develop between the younger and older students just might last a lifetime. 

Have a “Graduation” When Summer School Finishes

  • Make participating in summer school a big deal for the students and their parents. On the final day, have students speak on their accomplishments in the program.

  • By issuing certificates or diplomas at the end, it signifies that the summer school program should be viewed as a huge accomplishment to complete for the student. 

Learn How GoGuardian Can Help You Implement Best Practices for Summer School

GoGuardian can assist you in running a successful summer school program in numerous ways. For instance, by allowing the teacher to control what websites students are able to view, it will help minimize any distractions that may occur from technology usage. Use GoGuardian to provide a safe tech atmosphere in your summer school program.