Column: The Focused Student: How many ways are there to learn? Summer programs abound

Jeremy Jitendra, left, protects the ball from volunteer coach Loranzo Antonio during the MVP Summer
Jeremy Jitendra, left, protects the ball from volunteer coach Loranzo Antonio during the MVP Summer Basketball Camp in the Luther Burbank Middle School gym in June 2018. Sports camps are one way of learning new skills during the summer months.
(File Photo)

The end of the school year is upon us, but the learning isn’t over. June is a great time for reflection on the academic year — what worked and what didn’t. Then, decide how summer can best be used to extend successes and fill gaps. Some of the formal options include:

Traditional high school summer school. Four to five hours daily, for five to six weeks. Usually a mix of traditional lecturing and note-taking, group work or hands-on activities as well as homework time. Works best for students with long attention spans and need to be kept busy during the morning.

Hybrid high school summer school. Two to three hours of “in class time” daily, with another one to three hours of online work outside of class. May include group projects as well as several hours of homework per night. An excellent program for busy students who might be playing sports, have part-time jobs, or who volunteer or have internships. Best for students ready to work independently and with a little oversight.

Online summer school. Courses vary, from those that just provide a list of things to do and submit, to those with video instructions and online group projects with specific deadlines. Many private high schools (Charter Oak Christian, for example) and colleges offer accredited online courses accepted by most colleges and universities. In fact, the University of California has an entire system of application for approval of online high school courses. This is an excellent way for students who are absolutely crunched for time or in and out of the area for the summer. The student must be disciplined enough to follow up on assignments and be online at the time of instruction.


Community college. Most community colleges have a list of classes that are open for high school students and meet college admission standards. Students will mix with a range of ages on a large campus and will need to register online like any community college student. This is a good option for the student who wants a more serious atmosphere, independence and variety. Check to see if a given course conforms to the high school course curriculum.

Seminars and workshops. These types of classes are usually focused on specialty subjects that may include the trades, acting, culinary, speech and debate, government, financial, leadership and business. These can often be found on college campuses or public lecture halls and hotels. It is a great way to meet or hear from some interesting people. School credit is not usually an option, but seminars and workshops can be highly motivating.

Traditional lessons. A private teacher for one or two hours weekly provides a summer of interesting learning whether it’s art, music or a particular subject. This may also be accomplished through a community center, senior citizens center or private individuals. There are a number of online sources that can help you find just what you need including YouTube and podcasts.

Camps. Camps are another way of learning all-around practical or specific skills such as sports, cheerleading, wilderness experience, etc. Helps build social skills and fosters independence, as well — and provides a respite for parents as an additional benefit.


Independent Learning. Motivated learners can pursue a subject or interest in depth through reading, visiting museums and points of interests, exploring with friends, learning online or traveling with family and friends.

Opportunities to learn are everywhere, inside and outside of classrooms. Although many parents get their kids enrolled far in advance, it’s not too late to sign up for this summer’s activities. Help your student focus on the type of learning he or she is best suited to and the areas in which your student is most interested or needs the most extra attention. The goal is to have learning be fun, not punitive.

Robert Frank is the executive director of the Hillside School and Learning Center in La Cañada. He holds a master’s of science degree in special education and has more than 40 years of teaching experience. His column appears on the last Thursday of each month. He can be reached at

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