Our up and coming 3rd grader is reaching for this goal:  I will write a book that will win the Young Authors Competition next school year.  I’m excited to help her achieve that simple yet important goal.   The deadline for the entries usually fall near the middle of January.  She is starting today. 

While many of us recently celebrated the special high school graduates in our lives, university professors are finding that incoming freshman are not as prepared to write basic five page essays upon entering college.  One of the quickest ways to improve writing skills is to do it every day.   

When my cousin, Ebonne, was a little girl barely able to hold a pencil, her mother encouraged her to write daily journal entries.  She could choose her topics which ranged from simply providing a summary of her day to poetry.  Today, she is a successful producer at CNN.  

Today, my girls will start writing in their summer journals.  By the end of the summer, pages will be filled ideas and thoughts about daily experiences or anything else on their minds like poetry or creative stories.  To keep it fun, I will write notes, responding to their entries that suggest more colorful vocabulary words (good vs. scrumptious), give
proofreading edits, and encourage them to write more. 

LOL and SMH are simple examples that prove writing has become a lost art. Encourage your kids to write thank you notes.  Write letters to friends.  Write a letter to their congressman.  Write a poem.  Write a song.   Just write.   The more they do it, the better they become.

And they will be prepared college freshmen.

Steinway,C. (2008, February 20) Not All Freshman are Ready for College Writing. Tufts Daily (Retrieved from http://www.tuftsdaily.com/2.5512/not-all-freshmen-are-ready-for-college-writing-1.588604

Today is the official last day of school for thousands of Chicago Public School kids.  My girls deserve a couple of days of mindless activities to unwind like watching the questionable Disney shows on TV, exchanging goofy youtube videos with their cousins residing in Los Angeles, and going to the pantry 27 times per hour to sneak handfuls of carb loaded snacks.

Out with the old friends and in with the new.  Kids will miss the daily routine of seeing their friends.  A handful will be transferring to other schools in the fall.  One of their friends will be transferring to another school closer to her home.  I hope her friendship will be missed more than her outstanding ptiching skills that help bring home a 2nd place city trophy for their girls' softbal team.   But new friendships will accompany the next school year with fun memories waiting to be made.

Out with the old teachers and in with the new.   Some kids will sadly miss their teachers and will brace themselves to meet new ones.  Will they be mean or nice?  Calm or cranky?  Funny or dry as toast?  Today my kids met their teachers for the 2011-12 school year.  "ugh, I heard Misses Watchamacllit is so mean!"  My reply:  "So is my boss.  Deal with it."  

Out with the frustrations of the old school year to welcome the improvements of the new.  I don't know about your kids but my kids have some skills that need tightening up like solving algebraic expressions and writing more than "Because I am smart."  when the workbook question request a more elaborate response to "How did you come up with that answer?"  I'm excited that so many of my blog readers have requested tips and suggestions to help keep their kids on track during the summer. Stay tuned for DeanofParents blog series: The SEP: Summer Education Plan.  Imagine the next school year with awesome progress reports, fantastic grades, and completed homework assignments--turned in on time!

Looking forward to the journey of setting our kids up for success--together!