The Tale of Two Summers

Summer is coming, and for some students this means the long days of vacation, filled with fun and creative activities, whereas for others, it means long days of studying at summer school. Which ones make for better students?

Teresa Watanabe explores the tale of two students - both successful students - with two very different summer plans:

Summers for eighth-grader Jade Larriva-Latt are filled with soccer and backpacking, art galleries and museums, library volunteer work and sleep-away camp. There is no summer school, no tutoring.

"They need their childhood," says Jade's father, Cesar Larriva, an associate professor of education at Cal Poly Pomona. "It's a huge concern of mine, the lack of balance from pushing them too hard."

For 10th-grader Derek Lee, summer is the time to sprint ahead in the ferocious race to the academic top. He polishes off geometry, algebra and calculus ahead of schedule and masters SAT content (he earned a perfect 800 on the math portion last fall). This year, he plans to take college-level courses, maybe at UCLA or Stanford.

"You give your kids pressure so they can learn to handle it," says Derek's mother, Meiling Lee, smacking her fist into her hand. "Because finally they have to go out into the real world, and the real world is tough."

What do you think? Which is the better summer plan? Link (Photo: Anne Cusack / LA Times)

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Well, in tenth grade, I was pretty sure I was doing whatever I wanted. I had a job working nights 5 days a week so I had my own money and I graduated in the top 10% which was good enough for me. I don't think I spent much time at home, including sleep.
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While the all work and no play 'vacation' may seem harsh, I am reminded that I am raising adults - not children.
If I expect them to think and act maturely and have a good work ethic, I have to teach them these attributes.
Where once we would have spent the Summers outdoors with our friends, making bonds that could survive well into adulthood, that does not happen anymore. Goofing off for the whole of Summer playing videogames and watching clips on the Internet just doesn't cut the mustard.
Activities don't need to be purely academic to be valuable learning experiences, but they do need to exist.
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A two-week vacation of fun stuff should be enough for a kid. Besides, may as well get kids used to the real world of work in which most people just get 5 days off a year (not counting weekends). Learn to make the best of what little free time you have, kids.
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