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The issue as to whether children should attend summer school is a complicated one. Some students, particularly from middle school onward may not have a choice if they have failed a class during the regular school year. They have to do enough to make up a failing grade or their ability to graduate from their grade, or from high school can be imperiled.
Other times, teachers in lower grades recommend summer school to parents when students are flunking in a particular subject or exhibiting overall poor performance in school. After all, you can't really expect kids to learn complex subjects like functions, trigonometry, or geometry in under a year. As a parent, you have the option to enroll them in summer school or find them a private tutor who can help. An alternate scenario is that a parent feels a child would benefit from school during the summer, but the school isn’t necessarily supportive of this. Some private schools don’t offer summer schools, but children may be able to attend classes through their public school district.
In a situation where you have no choice, there really isn’t much to answer unless you want your child not to graduate or move up to the next grade. Yet in lower grades you mostly have the option to refuse summer school, and you may have specific reasons for refusal. A child who visits a second parent in another state or area of the country during the summer may pose a very good reason why the child shouldn’t attend summer school, particularly when it is a choice and not a requirement.
There are also some parents who really don’t appreciate summer school because it cuts into their own plans, may be offered in an area not easily accessed, or because they feel a child’s failure was not due to academic issues. A child who has had a very stressful year and been through a parent’s divorce, the death of a parent or other extremely disturbing circumstances may have simply been unfocused during the year or had multiple absences that resulted in poor grades. Again, in lower grades, you can usually make a strong case that a child should not attend summer school based on a child’s life experiences, and particularly if they have usually been average to excellent students in the past. If you need help with, say, grade-school level Math, hiring a tutor should help you build a case for your kid. You can inform your kid's teachers that you plan on getting them academic help during the summer so having them attend won't be necessary.
It may be a little harder in a public school district in the lower grades to place your child in summer school because you simply want them to go. Normally, summer school is determined by teacher recommendation, and you will have to present a strong case to the teacher why your child should attend. Teachers often have certain “tests” for deciding when to recommend a child to summer school, which may be implemented at a district level. These include things like looking at the child’s ability to perform at grade level, and analyzing things like learning disabilities and scores or standardized tests. Keeping a record of grades and performance on tests, and knowing your child’s academic ability can help make a case for why your child should attend.
If you can’t convince a school district that your child should attend summer school, you may want to consider a transfer to a district that will allow summer attendance or operates on a year round calendar. When this is unavailable, look to classes offered by private learning centers or through various organizations that may help your child become more academically prepared for the next year’s work. If price for these programs is prohibitive, ask the school district or your child’s teacher to lend you some books that will allow you to teach your child over the summer and help them review difficult concepts. Or you can get a personal tutor to help your kid get all the extra learning they can at home. Eventually, you should aim for your kid to get a scholarship in institutions where they will be given the best education possible.
Some parents feel very strongly that summertime is sacred. Formal learning should not enter into the process. Yet many parents also express how “bored” their children get after a few days or two of nothing but time on their hands. You can still preserve much of your child’s free time and have them devote a half hour to an hour in the morning to working on challenging concepts. It doesn’t take long to do a half sheet of long division, to fill out a multiplication table, to write a few sentences, or to spend some time reading aloud. By allowing brief periods of regular study at home and still allowing plenty of time for leisure, your children may actually appreciate leisure time more and be less likely to become bored.