For me, it was algebra. I just didn’t get it, and I’ll never forget the misery of watching my family leave for a trip to Vancouver while I attended summer school.

I passed the course more out of anger than any desire to know why X = Y and never looked back. But that summer changed me. It gave me a deep sense of compassion for students who don’t pass a subject or are left behind a grade.

Now, seeing signs for VBS and summer sessions at Camp Whatchacallit, the poem The Boy Who Didn’t Pass comes to mind.  

“Oh, you who boast a laughing son, and speak of him as bright,

And you who love a little girl who comes to you at night

With smiling eyes, with dancing feet, with honors from her school,

Turn to that lonely little boy who thinks he is a fool,

And take him kindly by the hand, the dullest in his class,

He is the one who most needs love, the boy who didn’t pass.”

Author Unknown

Here are a few ideas to help summer school students excel and get ready to tackle the next school year like a champion.

  • Find out what they’ve heard and are thinking about – make it less intimidating.
  • Help them see this is a second chance to succeed – not a punishment.
  • Look at the big picture and talk about the future. This is a stepping stone taking them in the direction they want to go.
  • Create Incentives – Sticker charts, weekly privileges contingent on the previous week’s successes, a special treat for a well-done job.
  • Be positive. Failure is not the opposite of success—it’s part of success. You’re only a failure when you refuse to try again.
  • Be proactive. Take this as a wake-up call. Be even more active in their education and find help from tutors or school programs if needed.
  • Be biblically encouraging. Lean on this truth—they CAN do this with the strength God gives them. (Philippians 4:13)

 What ideas do you have to help a summer school student succeed? Please share them in the comment box below.

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