How an Online Summer School Can Help Your Kids During Lockdown

For children and teenagers, a monotonous routine, passive social media use and a lack of contact with friends, is a hallmark of the pandemic, and it’s leaving parents scrambling to re-energise their children, and give them a sense of purpose.

An online summer school could be one of the things to help your kids during lockdown. With more than a quarter of children (5-16 years) and young people (17-22) reporting disturbed sleep1, and one in ten often or always feeling lonely, an online summer school offers diverse socialisation and routine to combat these issues.

Most importantly, a summer school provides a sense of meaning, and goals to work towards, which can combat mental health issues, and offer your child a world-class, interactive education with experts, in a time of shaky Zoom calls and pre-recorded lessons.

In this article, we’ll explore exactly what an online summer school involves, and how it can help your kids during lockdown.

How can an online summer school help your kids during lockdown?

An online summer school can help your kids during lockdown by giving them a sense of purpose in an unpredictable world, helping them find a new passion or interest, improving their socialisation, increasing their confidence and teaching them key skills for a post-Covid world.

An online summer school can also help your kids by boosting their mental health, giving them a head start at school and their exams, increasing their chances of getting into university, helping them work out their future career goals, and fostering their empathy, creativity and intuition.

10 reasons an online summer school can help your kids during lockdown

Gives them purpose and structure

One of the most painful things that children have had to deal with during lockdown, especially if they haven’t been able to attend school in-person, is the sense of aimlessness, as we struggle to orient ourselves in this new world.

Lack of routine is damaging to children’s development, especially if they have a condition such as ADHD, where the need for certainty and predictability of rewarding activities is especially important. And nothing will disturb a routine more than the fact that nobody needs to leave the house for school or work because of lockdown.

While you may try to give your child a structure with their schoolwork at home, the truth is that they are less likely to respond (especially with interest) to the authority of mum or dad. Kids simply see their parents as having a different role as their teachers, which is quite right.

However, an online summer school with a totally new set of expert teachers and exciting goals could give your child a structure that they will enjoy sticking to.

If you pick an interactive online summer school for your child, in which teaching is organised for the week with plenty of live sessions, this will give your child a proper sense of purpose, and something to wake up to. In a high-quality online summer school, your child will get a structured timetable with hours of immersive learning, personal development and enrichment sessions, career advice, and the chance to ask questions and debate fascinating topics with their teachers and other students.

Sparks interest, and fights mental fatigue

Instead of your child staring aimlessly at a screen all summer (like we haven’t had enough of that this year!), they could be exploring the stunning works of ancient civilisations, creating and marketing their own business product and learning about global financial markets, or starting to write a masterpiece. If your child is a budding doctor or nurse, you can even find online summer schools which do introduction to medicine courses remotely.

It is so easy when your child is focused on tests and exams, and perhaps bogged down in subjects they don’t enjoy, to see school as a chore that they must get through.

While remote learning this year has left many kids ‘Zoom fatigued’, if your child can enjoy a remote learning experience where they can look at entirely new subjects with the support of expert teachers, this could be just the thing to break them out of their mental fatigue.

Boosts their mental health

We usually think of summer as the best part of the year, but it can actually be very challenging to children who have mental health issues. Even lockdown, loss of structure and consistency during the summer is a potential risk factor for mental health difficulties, and now these issues are multiplied due to the fact that children have been unable to see their friends and socialise for the best part of a year. Attending an online summer school can really boost a child’s mental health, as it offers a structure and external goal setting that can be very comforting. If your child is studying a fascinating subject and they know they have to complete an essay on, say, the use of colour in Victorian novels, this gives them a specific, manageable goal, and a burst of dopamine when they succeed at it.

Increases confidence as they overcome challenges

One of the best ways to increase confidence is to try something new. The point is not to try something new and do it perfectly. The confidence comes when you allow yourself to take risks, accept difficulties and celebrate even your small accomplishments. Your child will be exposed to an absolute wealth of knowledge at a high-quality online summer school, from career support to total immersion in a subject, and an introduction to higher-level, even university, teaching. This will expand their horizons enormously and offer them a myriad of exciting new challenges to attempt and overcome, boosting their confidence and self-belief. Your child will flourish at university and their future career if they learn how to face challenges, accept mistakes and become joyfully resilient now.

Teaches key skills for a post-Covid world

Post-Covid, our need for the smartest minds in technology, mathematics, science and business will be stronger than ever. Coronavirus has proven how vital and dominant the technology industry is, and indeed how key subjects such as biology, medicine and biochemistry (to name a few) are to dealing with global crises like the pandemic. The huge array of subjects that your child can study at a high-quality summer school, for example, medicine, coding and computer science, will give them a head-start in careers which will be well-paid and in huge demand as the world tries to recover from the devastation of the pandemic.

Helps them catch up with missed school

Children have done an amazing job just surviving through lockdown, but it is inevitable that there will be some gaps in everyone’s learning, due to the disruption to schools and the requirement of parents to homeschool children. This is especially worrying for children working towards important exams like GCSEs, A-Levels or University Entrance tests, so an online summer school which provides specific exam support is an excellent opportunity to fill in those gaps for your child, in a fun, engaging and interactive environment. Your child will also have access to experts on the exams they’re doing (for example, if they need to take the IELTS test to get into university, which gives them a fantastic head start.

Improves their chances of getting into university

At a top quality online summer school, your child should have the opportunity to speak to experts in university admissions, and even be taught by leading university academics. This kind of exposure has a huge positive effect on your child’s university application, as they will be able to ask their tutors how they can make the best impression on the university of their choice, as well as the fact that studying a subject in-depth at a top online summer school, already introduces them to university life. Many excellent online summer schools will offer specialised CV and personal statement workshops, where your child will learn how to craft a winning application for university or a future job.

Improves socialisation

We have all suffered tremendously from the lack of social contact with friends and family, and this is especially difficult for our children, especially teens who are naturally reaching an age where they would rather spend time with friends than family and parents. Dr Amy Orben, a research fellow at cambridge, discovered that, while teens can have positive remote contact through social media, such messaging their friends on Facebook, ‘passive uses of social media, such as scrolling through newsfeeds’ have a negative effect on well-being. If your child attends a diverse online summer school, this will easily convert their ‘passive social media time’ into positive, interactive online friendship building. Not only this, but your child will be able to socialise from students all over the world taking the same online summer course, which naturally engages their brains more and has an excellent effect on mental health.

Helps them find their direction in life

Do you have a teen who has no idea what they want to do in life, and doesn’t seem to have any passions or interests? An online summer school is the perfect opportunity for your child to discover what they want to pursue in life. The range of opportunities at high-quality online summer schools that may not be available at your child’s regular school could open up a whole new world to them. For example, they could study something like Climate and Sustainability and discover a passion for the environment they never knew they had. Perhaps your child has never shown much of an interest in school, but suddenly discovers they have the skill-set, mathematics mind and love of how things work to become an engineer.

Fosters empathy, creativity and intuition

The skills your child will pick up at an online summer school will positively benefit them for the rest of their lives. In their immersive, expert-led classes they will learn sophisticated skills such as how to reason and debate an opposing point of view, as well as how to critically analyse complex information. This knowledge fosters a strong intellectual intuition that will serve them excellently both at university and in the workplace. Learning is a hugely creative activity, whether your child is exploring quantum physics or the art of the ancient world, and immersing themselves in fascinating subjects will improve their lateral thinking skills and imagination beyond belief. Also, they will interact with students and teachers from a diverse range of backgrounds and nationalities, which will hugely foster their empathy and understanding, as they learn to understand other people’s minds and beliefs, and effectively and respectfully put forth their own point of view.

What should an online summer school involve?

There are too many online learning platforms to count, and it is easy to become overwhelmed when you do a simple google search for an online summer school. While platforms dispense pre-recorded material such as recorded teaching and set exercises, for your child to get on with alone, other summer schools aim to provide the same interactive educational experience that your child would have if they attended in person. While summer schools where your child is assigned an interactive timetable and hours of immersive teaching are more expensive, they do have many psychological and practical benefits for your child. Let’s look at what you can expect from a top-quality online summer school.

The chance to study a subject you can’t in school

If your child is struggling to find their place in school and their academic journey, studying a totally new subject might open up a world of opportunity for them. Not all schools teach every subject, and the best summer schools will offer diverse courses including in Business Enterprise, Tech and Coding, and Classical Civilisation. Sometimes, all your child needs is a passion to unleash all their talent, creativity and intellectual rigour. A fresh subject, in a totally new environment, will definitely help build their self-confidence and eagerness to learn after the potential boredom and stress of a long lockdown.

Friends and contacts for life

The best summer schools are the ones that can bring your child an international perspective, even while they are restricted to their home during lockdown. Jobs are now calling for applicants with a diverse worldview, as workplaces and teams become more international.

A summer school that welcomes a students from a range of countries will expand your child’s worldview and socialisation beyond belief, despite the fact that travel is globally restricted. Friendship knows no borders (even the limits of Covid-19), and an online summer school will help your child break out of the rut of solitary home learning.

Not only this, but the professionals and industry leaders that you’ll meet at a high-quality summer school can give your child excellent career advice, and let them know about any internships or opportunities in the future. If your child has an international network of contacts before they even start university, they are in a fantastic position to excel.

Top-notch digital learning

If you do decide to send your child to an online summer school, you can expect that they will have a seamless learning experience, delivered with as much value online as it would be in person. The best summer schools will offer, at the very least:

  • Live lectures and interactive seminars
  • Tuition in small groups, so that your child can get the most out of world-class teaching
  • A structured timetable, so that your child feels organised and immersed at all times.
  • Flawless delivery of high-quality educational content over Microsoft Teams and Zoom
  • Personal development skills and career and university advice

Enrichment programmes

As many students attend summer schools in order to discover their direction in life, you can expect your child’s online summer school to provide enrichment programmes. These programmes should include top-notch guest speakers and industry experts, who will give talks on self development and pressing global issues, to expand and nurture your child’s mind. You can also expect intensive workshops to help your child with university applications, so that they have the best chance of getting in to the university of their dreams.

How can an online summer school prepare my child for university?

An online summer school is a fantastic way to help your child prepare for university applications and university itself during lockdown. At a top quality summer school, your child should receive the same exclusive support and knowledge on how to make the best application to university, as they would if they had attended the summer school in-person. As well as this, the best online summer schools ensure that their teaching gives students a taste of university-level learning, including independent research and immersive debates on engaging topics.

High-level teaching

Receiving high-quality teaching is one of the best preparations your child can have for their university application. Good teaching inspires passion for a subject, and builds confidence in a child who may be struggling in a few areas, and need support to get the grades for university. There’s also the fact that good online summer schools will specialise in exam preparation, giving your child a truly competitive edge when they come to take their GCSEs or A-Levels, which they obviously need to get into their university of choice.

One of the best things about sending your child to a high-quality online summer school is that they’ll be taught by experts in the subjects they’re studying. At the very best summer schools, your child could learn from one of the leading authorities in the country on Medicine, English Literature, Mathematics and more.

Top summer schools engage tutors such as Oxbridge and Ivy League academics, famous authors and industry professionals in subjects like film, fashion and the media. Exposure to teachers of this level of expertise will help your child discover what they really want to pursue in life, both at university and in their future career

University preparation advice

Your child will be taught by top academics and subject experts at a high-quality online summer school, which means that they will have access to the best and most relevant information about university applications. Make sure you check whether your child’s online summer school offers specific university preparation and careers workshops, for example, personal statement sessions, as these give your child a great chance of understanding and succeeding at the university application process. The skills your child will pick up, from creating powerful and incisive arguments in academic debates to practical essay writing skills, will also stand them in excellent stead for university life.

Independent research

If your child attends an online summer school where they can learn independent research skills, alongside gaining high-quality, interactive teaching, they’re on the path to excelling at university.

This is because university is far more about doing your own original research on the ideas and theories of experts, rather than rote learning as you might for an exam.

Your child is much more likely to get into the university of their choice if they can show aptitude for original thinking and critical skills in their personal statement.

Some summer schools even have specialised research projects which your child can undertake with the support of an expert tutor, who will guide them as they push their limits and let their knowledge reach new heights. Your child will gain skills that are perfect for their future career and success in the real world, such as how to design and execute projects, how to analyse data and use it to create an evidence-based argument in a project, dissertation and exams. Your child will also learn how to reference the work of others in their writing, which is a vital skill for any university student.

Communicate with people from around the world

When your child attends an online summer school with a global perspective, they will have the whole world condensed into their laptop. The same bedroom where your child has had to endure the same repetitive routines and lack of social contact for nearly a year due to Covid-19, will become a buzzing, cosmopolitan hub. Learning how to communicate and emphasise with people from different cultures is hugely important for university, as your child will have to adapt to a whole new social setting, usually with students from all over the world. Not only does making international friends now help expand your child’s knowledge of the world and different cultures ready for university, but international awareness is more important than ever for a successful career, especially in business.

A specialist insight into your chosen subject

There’s a lot of myths around personal statements (the statement you have to write as part of your application for UK universities), but there is one key rule: you must show your passion and interest in the subject you want to study.

An online summer school could give your child the drive and interest in their subject to cut out the cliches and express something truly original.

Getting high quality teaching at a summer school, with a taste of university level teaching, means that your child will have the confidence to write with interest and intuition about their subject. This is especially true if your child is applying to universities like Oxford or Cambridge, as the admissions process tends to place much more emphasis on an applicant’s engagement with their subject than with extracurricular activity.

Not only this, attending an online summer school during their school holiday shows an extra commitment to the subject, which is very useful for a university application.

However, it is important that you find an online summer school that offers high-quality teaching, rather than a summer school which just rehashes what your child has learnt at school, as this introduction to higher-level knowledge and the chance to gain valuable, critical thinking skills is what will stand out on your child’s application.

For example, if you took a Business Enterprise course at an online summer school and you want to study a Business subject at university, you could write about how you designed and marketed your own business product on your course, which sparked your passion for entrepreneurship and the intricacies of Business.

What subjects could my child study at an online summer school?

Of course, the subjects that your child decides to study at an online summer school depends on where their interests, or areas for academic improvement lie. Many online summer schools offer a fantastic array of subjects ranging from Business Enterprise to Creative Writing. It’s a good idea to pick an online summer school which can provide proper, interactive teaching with real tutors, as your child will benefit so much more from the communication and interaction with experts. Lets look at just a few of the subjects that your child could study at an online summer school.

Tech & Coding

If you can find an online summer school which teaches your child subjects like computer science and coding, this is a great way to set them up for a future career in our tech dominated world. Coding is a great skill to learn, especially because it is more vital than ever in a post-pandemic world. Plus, learning a new skill will energise your child, and give them a sense of purpose while limited during lockdown. Let’s look at why an online summer course in coding could transform your child’s future.

  • Coding is where the money is. While other industries have been decimated due to the pandemic, the tech industry is still going strong, fuelled by the demand for remote working and education, and technological responses to the virus. According to Tech Nation, adverts for jobs in the technology sector increased 36% since 2020.
  • Coding helps industries recover from Covid-19. In a post-pandemic world, jobs involving coding will be key to helping business recover from the economic devastation of Covid-19. Companies from all sectors need computers for every aspect of their work, so the demand for knowledgeable computer experts is high. According to research by Global Data, computer coding, cybersecurity, automation and cloud computing are all technologies that business executives will be using to recover financially from Covid-19, so the jobs will be plentiful here, if your children have the skills.
  • Coding gets your child ready for the jobs of the future. Microsoft anticipates that, as the lockdown increases digitisation, there will be 149 million jobs by 2025, many of which have not been invented yet. For example, as robotics becomes more prevalent in social care and education, a knowledge of Quantum computing will become increasingly important, and there will be a greater demand for quantum engineers. Coding is at the heart of all these anticipated future jobs.

Maths

Maths is a really useful subject to study at an online summer school, whether your child is passionate about Maths, or needs to improve their skills for upcoming exams. Many children struggle with maths, and a summer school could open their eyes to the beauty and usefulness of it. Mathematics is core to most high-flying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) careers, including jobs as doctors, astronauts and physicists. Maths is extremely useful even to careers which don’t seem to have a lot to do with Maths, as basic calculations and problem solving skills are relevant to every industry.

Not only this, but Maths A-Level adds £6,000 to your child’s future salary, just six years after taking it. Receiving a proper Maths education by experts and getting the right preparation for life-changing exams like A-Level Maths, gives your child a great start in life. While most Further Maths students have an average annual salary of £25,500 by age 24, the very best students can earn up to £31,500 by that age. Even if your child isn’t planning to study Maths at A-Level or university, they’ll still need a good Maths grade at GCSE in order to do the A-Levels they want, and to get into university. This is why an online Maths summer school can be so useful, as it can help a Maths loving child to excel in the subject in the future, as well as get a child who struggles with Maths up to scratch so they can pass their GCSEs and move on to what they really want to do.

Oxford Royale Academy offers a thorough, online Mathematics course, that strengthens your child’s fundamental skills and techniques, and helps them get to grips with new and advanced topics. Your child will learn everything from graph drawing and general logic, to mathematical theories and puzzles. Your child will learn more about how Mathematics is taught in more advanced classes, for example, at A-Level or university, to give them an edge over their competitors when they move on to further study.

Economics

Economics is a very useful subject to study at an online summer school, as it will help your child understand the distribution of wealth in the country in terms of goods and services, which is a useful skill for a career in anything business or finance related. An Economics summer school can give your child a strong knowledge of mathematics and statistics, perfect for a future, lucrative role in banks, insurance, accountancy firms, businesses and governments.

Social media has transformed the world so much, and today’s teenagers are making thousands from platforms like TikTok, Youtube and Instagram, and a good knowledge of economics and business can really help your child if they are keen on going down a content creation path, as well as pursuing further studies at university. Even if your child isn’t sure of what they want to pursue or study in the future (this is totally understandable, as discovering your passion in life is a long and enriching journey) studying Economics will give them vital analytical and problem solving skills, perfect for any path they end up pursuing.

Creative Writing

Creative Writing in immensely beneficial subject to study, and it is definitely possible to do it through an online summer school. After the stress your child has had to face with school closures and lack of social contact with friends during the pandemic, getting lost in their imagination and honing their writing skills can be very therapeutic. Creative writing is proven to promote happiness, as your child can express anything they think or feel ont he page, helping them deal with the complex feelings they might struggle to communicate. Creative Writing also fosters key skills for a range of future careers, including the ability to communicate and express ideas (vital in any workplace), excellent analytical and research knowledge and increased empathy and problem solving skills, which are key to working collaboratively and successfully with a team.

Learn English

If English is not your child’s first language, attending an online summer course to get their English skills up to scratch could be an amazing distraction from the boredom and monotony of lockdown. If you child is planning to study at a UK or US university, learning English is vital. Having a good grasp of English also sets your child up for their future career, as English (the third most widely spoken language in the world) is commonly used as a trade language in businesses. If your child wants to study at a certain university, they may need to take something called an IELTS exam. Oxford Royale Academy offers a remote IELTS Exam Preparation course, that gives your child world-class tuition in the IELTS tests, and gives them the English, reading, writing and vocabulary skills to pass each section of the test with top marks.

How to help your kids catch up at home

Not everyone can afford an online summer school, and there’s absolutely no reason you can’t give your children high-quality school catch up sessions and learning experiences at home. We all know that lockdown and school closures have affected our kids’ learning, so here’s five things you can do to reinvigorate your child’s learning this summer.

Tutoring

Arranging remote tutoring for your child is a fantastic way to support them through a subject they may have missed teaching on due to the lockdown. There are non-profit organisations which offer free tutoring, including GoPeer, an organisation in the US which partners kids with College students from top universities, who can share their passion for a subject with their tutees. While teachers have done a stellar job during the pandemic, having one-to-one teaching on a subject can give your child that extra boost of confidence, as well as give them a sense of purpose and goals to work towards in their tutoring sessions.

Online resources and projects

You may not be a qualified teacher, but luckily there are thousands of free, teacher-vetted resources that you can use to help your child catch up any learning they have missed over the summer, or just help them learn more about a fascinating subject. Resources like Quizlet in the US and Twinkl in the UK offer free flashcards, topic explanations and learning tools to help your child see Maths, English and any other subject in a new way. Why not use sites like these to set up a subject-focused, summer research project for your child or teen, if they’re keen? This would be an excellent, free way to boost their personal statement if they are applying to university, and give them a chance to excel in their learning at home. For example, you could help your child set up a Geography project measuring rock formations in your local area, which is a great way for your child to show initiative for university applications, or just promote a fascinating with learning for younger children.

A balanced schedule

Summer should be fun, especially given the stresses and strains on children during the pandemic. If you are planning some home learning for your child to boost their university applications, increase their chances of exam success or catch up with learning, make sure it is interspersed with plenty of fun and relaxation. While it’s harder to drag teens away from their endless scrolling, you could try and plan some relaxing activities to do at home or in the garden, if you have one. Trust your teen to repaint or redecorate their bedroom if it’s a possibility (the sense of confidence and purpose they’d get from designing their own room could outweigh the negative effects of mess!), or for more low key ideas, bake or cook a meal of their choice with them. Positive and focused screen-time, for example, finding a not-too-pricey coding or video game creation course can do wonders for your child or teen and provide them with a real sense of fun. Or, alternatively, they could design their own Anime for free.

Emotional support

Even more important than learning is your child’s mental and emotional health. In fact, to learn effectively and well and enjoy the wonders of education, your child must be in a good emotional place. Your child or teen may be worried about upcoming exams such as GCSEs or A-Levels, the effect of Covid-19 on a family’s health and finances and simply suffering from a lack of social contact with their friends. As a parent, you can help them learn techniques such as distracting themselves from worrying thoughts with something nurturing like a hobby or phoning a friend, or mindfulness techniques when they get caught in predicting the future or panicking.

Talk to your child’s teacher

If your teen has either struggled to cope with home learning or feels they aren’t being stretched academically enough, a great idea is to talk to their teacher. As they will have the best idea of your child’s progress in school, you can ask them to help you work out subjects or projects they can pursue during the summer.

Now that we’ve covered exactly how an online summer school works, what you can expect from a top-tier summer school and how online summer schools can help your child during lockdown, we hope you’ve found this a useful and informative read. Remember that although online summer schools are a fantastic opportunity, there are lots of things you can do at home to improve your child’s socialisation and support their learning during the pandemic.

1https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lanpsy/PIIS2215-0366(20)30570-8.pdf

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