A structured, productive summer can help keep students on track and set them up for success in the new year.
When the halls are bare and the classrooms are quiet at Oliverian, it can mean only one thing — summer has begun. But this quiet won’t last for long. Summer Session is set to begin June 23, opening the doors to Oli students ready to turn their “off” months into memories that will last a lifetime — and luckily, there’s still time to apply!
At Oli, we started Summer Session because we believe remaining engaged and empowered throughout the summer months is an integral part of a teen’s academic and social growth. “Summer can be a tricky time for teens, who may be looking forward to the unstructured relaxation they associate with summer, but who soon discover that extended periods of downtime make them less healthy and less happy,” says Abby Hood, Director of Academics at Oliverian. “We want to provide students with a well-rounded summer experience that is engaging, productive, and fun.”
Though summer is a great time to relax, it’s also important that teens and their parents work hard to avoid some common vacation pitfalls and stay on track for post-high school success during these months.
While “summer” and “learning” may seem almost antithetical, that mindset can encourage some undesirable, unintended results. “When students aren’t engaging their minds, they’re going to regress somewhat in their learning,” says Hood. This learning loss is known in the academic arena as “summer slide,” and it’s been said to set students back anywhere from weeks to months.
That’s why it’s vital that teens keep their minds sharp through summer courses, internships, or independent summer reading. Engaging the brain throughout June, July, and August doesn’t just help students stay on track — it can even enhance their core academic skills, providing valuable extra time for students who may have slipped behind during the last academic year.
In addition, keeping busy in the summer is a sure-fire way for students to build a robust résumé when it comes time for college applications or the start of their career. Higher education institutions and companies both wish to recruit students who are avid learners, engaged in their communities, and driven to pursue areas that pique their curiosity, and summer offers a valuable opportunity to both display and develop those characteristics.
Finally, regular sunshine can also help boost levels of serotonin in the brain, alleviating some of the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder and other mental health conditions. Rather than sleeping into the afternoon hours or playing video games until the sun comes up, teens should take advantage of the warm weather with structured outdoor activity. Exercise has been found to improve bone health in adolescents, facilitate better sleep patterns, and lay the foundation for a healthy adulthood, in which exercise is an integral part of keeping numerous diseases at bay.
The Summer Session here at Oli is designed to provide students with a unique mix of it all — adventure, knowledge, community, and stewardship. At about half the size of our school-year student body, this out-of-the-box summer program is small enough that all participants can enjoy activities together, but large enough that the connections a student can make are wide and varied.
“This doesn’t feel like summer school. In fact, that’s why we call it Summer Session,” says Hood. “Most of the classes we host have an outdoor, experiential component to them, and are mixed in with trips to local fairs, farmers’ markets, watering holes, and nature preserves.”
On Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, students in Summer Session classes may be spotted in a local field, devouring the latest adventure literature, or on the banks of a stream, surveying the surrounding ecology as part of an environmental science study. Wednesdays are reserved for art, volunteer service, or an outdoor excursion, depending on the student at hand. Some may choose to join staff on an all-day canoe trip, while others harvest natural materials that they then use to make artwork..
“The goal is to get students to explore their interests and devote time to productive passions. This is how we all learn what energizes us and where our skill sets shine,” said Hood. “Summer Session also keeps teens engaged academically, reconnecting them with their love of learning through experiential, applied learning. When the fall rolls around, these students are prepared to jump back in.”
Interested in learning more about Summer Session and what it could mean for your teen? Contact our admissions team today.