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placeholder March 9, 2015   •   VOL. 53, NO.5   •   Oakland, CA

Principal Kenneth Willers works with pupils at the School of the Madeleine.

Considerations in choosing a summer program

It's all about enrichment and engagement. The 21st-century student wants to be self-directed around areas of interest.

The research shows that students who are engaged in areas of their own interests, i.e. coding, robotics, art, music, athletics or academics, tend to have a much more satisfying summer experience overall and to have a more meaningful grasp of the skills they acquired.

There are so many summer opportunities for students today that they almost appear to overwhelming. The costs for some of these programs can also be overwhelming. So, having created, executed and directed a variety summer programs over the course of my life, I would advise parents to do the following:

• Check out the space (bathrooms). Make sure it is safe a clean.

• Engage those directing the program about their experience, qualifications and philosophy.

• Assess the staff — the good old "gut-check" and make sure they have the ability to communicate and their experience of working with children.

• Word of mouth is always good. Other parents usually would not talk up a program that they felt was not beneficial for their child.

• Reflect on your child's passion. Where does he/she spend most of their time when doing school work? That's the opportunity where deeper learning is possible.

These five simple considerations could make all the difference in your child's summer program. It's about engagement and enrichment; what a great transition for "Back to School" time.

(Kenneth Willers is principal of the School of the Madeleine in Berkeley.)

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