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Poetic Suggestions, by Susan Mandel Glazer

Consider ways to keep skills sharp over the summer – but don't forget to have fun, too

Here we are, at the end of another school year. The following poetic send-off also includes tips for keeping your students on their toes – and yourself relaxed – during the break.

An Ode for Summer

It's summer, dear readers,
And all are ready
To jump in the pool
And make merry.

The kids want picnics,
Barbecues and punch,
Instead of the usual
Cafeteria lunch.

They're free of bells,
Report cards and clubs.
No more homework
And no more subs.

"No school!" they scream,
But receive a list of things to do
That instantly changes
Their exuberant mood.

"Write in those journals,
Read from this list.
Then write a book report.
We insist!"

But when I take a break,
I have the need
To avoid my work
And reduce my speed.
So let's give kids a break,
They need a rest
From homework and reviews
To pass future tests.

Minimal constraints
Is the way to go
So kids can renew
Their childhood glow –

Their spirits, their zest
And desire to learn.
The freedom to choose
Without concern.

But I do agree,
There must be limits
To keep them responsible
To daily commitments.

Let's try reasonable
"Assignments" with lures –
Things shared with their families
On sunny day tours.

We can suggest lists
Of things to do,
Like "Answer the phone,
And write the message, too."

Write notes to your kids
Which require responses.
Learning to write
Is a continuous process.

Ask, "How about ice cream
Or a hamburger?"
Then ask them to write
Why they chose their answer.

The "why" of writing
Is imperative
For guiding kids
To be superlative

In their grasp of language,
Using their own voice
And writing an answer
That's their own choice.

Suggest the library or bookstore
As a weekly outing
To find a book
And do some chatting

About why one is the best
Out of all the rest,
Or ask, "What made us
Select this book first?"

Guide parents to read
When their children do;
Kids need to see
Their parents reading, too.

Kids should make their beds
And clean their rooms,
Listen to music
And remember the tunes.

There are books to read
And movies to see
That will draw kids
Into a mystery,

Or fantasy, fact,
Fiction and rhyme,
Or a bit of history
That will remind

Us all that everyone
Has lived with constraints –
From the ancient Egyptians
To modern-day saints.
I hope that you heed
This missive too.
Take the time that you need
This summer – just for you.

Tell yourself you're
A kid again.
Plop down on the floor
And have some fun

Talking with friends
Or telling jokes.
What better way to renew,
Dear folks?

May your summer be filled
With joy and pleasure,
Health and experiences
To hold and treasure.

A toast to you all
For a job well done.
May the warm weather bring you
Some interesting fun!

A Post Script:

Below are some websites
Found by Alexis Fitzgerald,
A magical teacher
Of whom I think the world.

"The websites," she says,
"Are from around and about.
These are the few
That I can't do without!"

Reading Activities:

Teacher Resources:

Susan Mandel Glazer is the Director of the Center for Reading and Writing at Rider University in Lawrence, NJ.