Summer Dos and Don’ts for Parents

There is evidence that it is important for students to stay sharp during this time—it’s possible to lose critical academic skills and knowledge over the summer months.

Here at Signet, parents often ask us about the “best” way for their child to spend the summer so they are refreshed and ready for the school year and avoid the “summer slide.” While there’s no standard road map, with this list of Dos and Don’ts, we hope you’ll feel equipped to help your student relax and recharge their batteries without completely running out of juice.


    1. Encourage your child to read for pleasure. One of the best ways to do this is by modeling the behavior for them. This summer, set a designated quiet reading hour in your house, where you and your child both pick up a book. Local, independently owned bookstores often have great information on the latest Young Adult reads, and can offer excellent staff picks.
    2. Consider learning opportunities that you can weave into your teen’s summer, no matter where you will be. Is your son working this summer? Is your daughter going to softball camp? Are you taking the family trip of a lifetime? The good news is that learning can take place in nearly every setting. A budding visual artist, for example, could take advantage of her family’s travel plans by spending time in as many museums as possible.
      • If you and your student are interested in structured summer instruction, platforms like Coursera offer an abundance of online courses. Many students use the summer to dig deeper into interesting topics that are not offered in their high schools, such as computer science, language instruction, neuroscience, and international business. While these courses do have structure, they still offer a break from the intense scheduling of high school.
    3. Encourage self-reflection. High schoolers, understandably, are often unsure of what they want the future to hold, whether that’s their major in college or which courses they should take in sophomore year. We encourage thinking of the summer as a chance for your child to spark or deepen a connection with something that speaks to them. As parents, we can offer our children opportunities to explore their interests and develop a strong sense of who they are.
      • This could look like your student pursuing their own music (outside of band or orchestra), or coding and programming a personal project. Students interested in original research can look at programs like Pioneer Academics, an online platform that offers global research opportunities with professors across a wide range of disciplines.


    1. Be unrealistic. It’s important to work within the boundaries of what is realistic for you and your family when coordinating your student’s summer activities. Avoid the pressure to “keep up with the Joneses,” and don’t worry about what other families have planned. Find what works best for you and your student.
      • If a summer program is not feasible this year, then replace it with something that is more cost-effective or fits better into your schedule. The goal should be a summer that provides productivity, learning and engagement for your child. While a structured program can meet these objectives, homegrown activities can work just as well.
      • Resources such as Summer Program Finder, or the databases at TeenLife and Pathways to Science, can help students explore a variety of programs tailored to their schedule and/or budget.
    2. Strive for perfection or create over-ambitious plans. This mistake could cost you, the parent, YOUR summer. Avoid setting up a too-intense schedule that leaves you and your student exhausted, or you’ll put a damper on your own well-earned summer break! Set expectations that your student is actually able to meet. If you find yourself nagging your child to follow through on their summer plans, it’s a clue that their (or your) summer goals might be a little too ambitious.
      • Remember: the best summer plan is one that your student is excited about and eager to engage in. Don’t let the freedom of suffer turn into frustration!

Here’s the bottom line: the best thing a parent can do this summer is make sure that your student has plenty of time to rest, relax, and recharge—but also make time for exploration, engagement, and opportunities to learn. With the right summer plan, you can be confident that your student will return to school refreshed and ready for the new year. Good luck!

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