Do I NEED A Tutor? Summer Preview Edition

Summer is Coming!

Hooray! Summer vacation means that final exams are DONE and everyone can take a deep breath and relax a bit more fully. For many students and their families, a break from academic stress is the reward for working hard throughout the school year. Of course we’ll all keep reading and learning, but a break from tests, quizzes, papers, and due dates sounds great to me.

What is a summer preview?

A summer preview lets students see and learn a bit about some of the ideas and topics that they will encounter in class next year. A student heading into algebra might preview the basics of functions. A calculus student might get a bit of practice with limits and basic derivative rules. Rising geometry students can play a bit with the idea of proof. Precalculus students can brush up on trigonometry.

Why would someone do a summer preview?

  • Anxiety about math class
    • If a student is anxious about math class, seeing the material ahead of time makes it more likely that ideas will make sense when they come up in class.
    • Having a sense of what will be learned helps students be confident in class, increasing comprehension and the likelihood of class participation.
  • A busy upcoming year
    • Is the student’s schedule packed for next year? Any step to reduce the cognitive load during the school year will pay dividends. Students who have previewed material will have to spend less time during the school year to internalize class ideas.
  • Re-learning is easier than learning
    • It’s always easier to understand an idea when it’s not the first time you’ve encountered it.
    • Each time an idea is presented, a student gets a different perspective through which to understand it. More perspectives make for more flexible knowledge.

Steps in a summer preview

  1. Get the syllabus. If a summer preview sounds like a good idea, try to get a copy of the syllabus for next year’s class. The syllabus will help in tailoring the preview to the class that the student will be taking.
  2. Decide how much of a preview you want. A preview can cover the broadest strokes of the class, or be a true topic-by-topic teaching of the subjects that will appear in the class. This decision will vary depending on how familiar you want the class to feel come September. For strong students an in-depth preview can lead to a boring school year – not an ideal outcome.
  3. Decide how to preview. A self-motivated student can preview on their own, with a friend, or with a parent, using the textbook or online resources (Khan Academy is usually quite good). You can also hire a tutor to run the preview – this is where I remind you that I’m available for online tutoring! A tutor can provide personalized lessons, explanations, and motivation. It’s the difference between training for a big sports event on your own or with a trainer – highly motivated athletes can get fully prepared on their own, but most of us will do better with professional training.
  4. Remember that this isn’t school. Summer should, to the extent possible, be a time where a student recharges for the coming school year. A summer preview should not take up a ton of the student’s time – a few days a week for a few weeks is definitely enough, daily meetings for months is overkill and runs the risk of burnout before the school year even begins.

Does a summer preview make sense for you? What pros and cons haven’t I covered? I’d love to know your thoughts – please leave a comment below! If you know someone who’d be interested in this content, please share this post with them!

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