Updated: Aug 5, 2021
School's out... so no more school? Rebecca runs through the best ways to reflect on the academic year and consolidate your work so you return fresh in September!
There’s a heatwave outside, the academic year has finished, and there are weeks and weeks to go until school starts again. It’s really tempting, and completely understandable, to want to retreat into a cave or onto a deckchair, pretend that school is never coming back, and forget everything you’ve learned.
And while it’s absolutely necessary and deserved to take a break over the summer, get some rest, and spend time doing things you love, it’s also probably not the best idea to have forgotten everything you learned over the last year when you start back again in September.
So, Titanium asked me to come up with a few ideas of how to consolidate the academic year, and be ready to hit the ground running next term, without feeling like you haven’t had a break or any time to recover and relax. Here’s what I came up with:
Reading is a brilliant way to keep your brain active and learning whilst still relaxing. Taking a book to a quiet corner of a park, garden, or beach can be a wonderful way to spend time on holiday.
There’s always room for a holiday blockbuster, but why not challenge yourself with a classic from the literary canon? You could see what’s on the syllabus for next year and get a head start, or find another book by the same author, so you have something to compare with.
If you’re stuck for ideas, have a look at the TT blog on summer reading suggestions:
A great thing about the summer is that you can discover and explore outside of the classroom. There are amazing museums, historic houses, cathedrals, and visitor attractions all over the country that offer much more accessible, hands-on, fun ways of putting what you’ve learnt in school into practice.
If you’re on holiday somewhere in the countryside, see if you can spot features you’ve learned in Geography. Go to a science museum and see the Physics theories you’ve been learning put into practice. Go to the theatre, and see what the play you’ve been studying in class actually feels like when staged out loud with costumes, lighting, and set. Or perhaps see a piece of music that you're studying live.
Lots of these places are free, or offer really cheap student tickets. And if travelling is difficult, your local library should have lots of suggestions for places to explore and learn nearby.
3. Mental maths
A really simple, yet surprisingly effective, way of keeping your brain ticking over is to not dive for the calculator every time a quick sum comes up. Whether you’re dividing a restaurant bill after a meal out with friends, working out the correct amount of change, or seeing what time you need to leave to catch your holiday flight, try and do the maths in your head rather than getting out the calculator on your phone.
It’s a really little thing, but mental maths is one of the first things to go rusty without practice – it’s shocking how few adults feel confident doing simple sums in their heads – so give it some attention over the summer and the first maths lesson back won’t be quite so painful.
4. Language practice
Another skill that goes rusty quickly is languages. It can be so dispiriting to work really hard to master the vocabulary and grammar of a second language, to then be unable to recall it after a long break, so it’s really worth keeping going with a bit of practice over the summer.
Obviously the perfect way is to be going on holiday to the country whose language you’re practising, but even if you don’t get that lucky you don’t have to be stuck with the textbook. Watch foreign language films and television, listen to radio stations from that country, or put on subtitles over whatever TV series you’re currently binging. Some linguists I know change the settings on their computers and phones to whatever language they’re studying, or get news reports in that language.
There’s so much fun and fascinating culture to explore when learning a language, that there are loads of ways to practise on holiday.
5. Keep up with the news
Speaking of news reports, it can be really helpful to keep up with what’s going on in the world. Partly just because there’s a lot happening in the world right now, and a lot can change in six weeks if you aren’t paying attention!
But also because getting news, especially by exploring more than one source, engages all your critical thinking faculties, helps to ground theories of economics, law, politics, history, and geography in reality, and in some circumstances even helps to improve debating skills…
Finally, a slightly boring but very handy suggestion: organise last year’s notes, homework, and textbooks. If you have loose sheets of paper, glue them in or file them properly. Colour-code or alphabetise, use whatever system you like, but make sure your work is all accessible and understandable when you need it. Because you won’t magically remember everything you’ve learned over the last year, which means at some point you’ll need to revisit your books and revise. And revision can be stressful enough without frantically delving through piles of messy paper trying to find the one thing you need.
Hopefully some of these points have suggested useful, not too dull ways to keep your brain exercised and happy over the summer, without feeling too much like you’re at school! Consolidating the academic year properly can pay dividends when you return in September.
Regardless, enjoy the sun, get lots of rest, and have a great summer holiday!
Blog Post Crafted by Rebecca
Subjects Taught: English, Maths, 7+, 11+
Background: Rebecca is one of our most popular tutors, with a degree in English from the University of Cambridge and hundreds of hours of private tuition experience in 7+, 11+, English and Maths. She is also an assessor for Titanium Tutors, observing the mock lessons taught by potential tutors and deciding whether or not they meet the high standards of the agency.