Summer Is an Opportunity to Help Your Student Get Ready for the School Year to Come

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June is always tough for me, which seems contrary to what you'd expect since students are wrapping up school, my schedule is temporarily lighter, 504s and IEPs are done, and often I receive good news that students have closed the semester in a far better place than they where started. The truth is, though, that I feel like an empty nester!

summer prep

My 12th graders are headed off to the “real” world of college, jobs, and gap programs. While I continue to work with some of these students when they are in college, for others it's time to say goodbye. I've had the privilege of working with some of my seniors since they were 13 or 14, and I feel confident that I'm sending them off ready to launch successfully. But I'll miss them, no question.

Meanwhile, our elementary school families worry about middle school, multiple teachers, and monster projects ahead. Families of 8th graders recognize that the shift to high school and its increased demands is critical for them to address. Often there's a significant disconnect in what the local middle school classes require and the college-like expectations of new high school instructors.

Worried parents fret about the following (among other concerns, of course):

  • Will my child have the skills to plan, prioritize, and seek out help next year?
  • Are his/her writing skills up to par? (Rumor has it that high school essays are complicated!)
  • What study habits need to be improved to ensure my child's success?
  • Can I count on him/her to jumpstart homework and get it turned in without my involvement?
  • Is it possible for me to back off helping with organization and time management?

Summer is an Opportunity

I like the peace of the summer days—the long hours of sunshine combined with seeing students who are more rested and less stressed, unfettered by homework and afterschool demands. It's a great time to build some new study skills and to give the frontal lobes a booster shot of strategies and tools to help students move forward with greater confidence and efficiency.

At SOS4Students, we've got something for ever student this summer, from customized 1-on-1 coaching sessions for specific skill building to intensive workshops that focus on helping students make a successful transition to the next grade. So whether you're the parent of a middle schooler or high schooler, grab the opportunity this summer to help your child get ready for the year to come without the pressure of daily homework.

SOS4Students Summer Workshops & Coaching

Check out our workshop and summer coaching offerings and come on board! Space is limited, so sign up your student today so he/she doesn’t miss out.

  • All workshops held at Tilden Prep (Walnut Creek Campus) except "Writing Rx" and "Write On" which are held at Orinda Academy. 
  • Summer coaching is available at our Walnut Creek and Montclair District offices.

Middle School Workshops

Mastering Middle School empowers students entering sixth grade. Students learn invaluable skills to tackle the demands of multiple teachers and more complex assignments.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


6th - 8th GradesMake sure your child is prepared for the essay-writing challenges ahead with Write On, where we cover essay fundamentals for middle school students.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


7th & 8th GradeMiddle School Blitz gives your students the strategies they need to have control over their time and workload. Prepare your student to balance classwork, homework and outside activities.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


High School Workshops

9th GradeNailing Ninth Grade prepares your student for a successful transition to high school. Students come away with an invaluable toolbox of study strategies they will use every day.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


9th - 11th GradesWriting RX teaches students an easily replicable system for expository essay writing. Students leave confident and prepared to tackle the complex writing assignments that high school demands.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


9th - 11th GradesSecrets of Successful Note Taking demystifies the note taking process. Students learn techniques to take effective notes and use their notes to prepare for tests and papers.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


Summer Coaching

6th - 12th GradesCan't make the workshop you need? Does your student benefit from more individualized attention? All ages (even after high school) and abilities benefit from the one-on-one summer coaching sessions with our seasoned coaches.

Learn More & Sign Up Today

Warmly,
Beth Samuelson 

Writing in Schools Is Changing, Which Means Our Writing Rx Program Is Evolving Too!

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Does your teen struggle to get started on papers? Does he or she complain about late nights and last minute essay writing?

“I’m going to do this prompt for To Kill A Mockingbird,” my ninth-grade student said, pointing at the third option on a sheet of prompts that were each at least a paragraph in length. The long-winded prompt she chose came down to this: “Analyze how the book can be viewed as the story of a loss of innocence.”

  • Were there at least three examples?
  • What quotes would fit this prompt?
  • How was this paper going to be organized?

“I have the ideas,” my student said, sighing. “I just don’t know what to focus on and how to put this together.”

student writing

High school students are expected to be self-starters and resourceful. They do not receive a lot of direct instruction for to "how" to write increasingly complex essays.  Even students in AP classes find that writing papers presents numerous challenges, including issues with planning, prioritizing and organizing great ideas into a coherent whole. Students are simply expected to dive into long-winded directives, deconstruct what is being asked of them, and to jumpstart.

Writing Demands on The Increase

Since the implementation of Common Core, writing demands have increased in schools. Here’s what we’ve noticed with our students at SOS4Students:

  • There is more writing in classes that frequently focused on multiple choice assessments in the past.
  • We have seen an increase of in-class writing of essays that never come home (which leaves parents unsure about their student’s writing skills).
  • Prompts are more complex and require more effort to decode and deconstruct, which can be especially frustrating for students with learning differences and organizational challenges.
  • Students are being asked to deliver a wider variety of writing such as critical thinking pieces (such as “explain the propaganda techniques used in a political speech”); synthesis of multiple documents/other media (such as videos) to form an opinion and back it with evidence; and literary analysis that focuses on a theme, which requires annotation and creates struggles for students who don’t know how to take notes well.
  • There is less direct instruction by teachers in “how” to write, but more complex directions in the form of lengthy handouts or online PDFs.
  • We have seen increase in group papers done on Google Drive, where different members contribute and receive a grade for their portion and for the group.
  • There is a greater emphasis on teaching writing mechanics through software such as NoRedInk.

Your Student’s Rx for Writing Success

Ironically, students who are overwhelmed or confused often avoid seeking necessary help. They procrastinate. The result is a stressful process where they struggle on their own or with minimal feedback from peer editors.

At SOS, we’re pros at dealing with student writing and stress around papers. We provide explicit instruction on how to move a paper from the idea stage to a polished, final draft. Our summer Writing Rx course for high school students is designed to demystify the “how to” of essays. This year, we’re excited to have revamped our course to better meet the needs of students in today’s rapidly changing high school English and history classes.

This year’s Writing Rx includes . . . 


  • A new focus on literature analysis
  • Integration of media and digital materials with text to mirror assignments students see more frequently at school these days
  • Annotation and notetaking skills needed for writing essays
  • Tools and techniques for dealing with writer’s block and jumpstarting essay assignments quickly and effectively
  • Resources to help students with a wide array of writing assignments, including tips for getting the help they need from instructors.

Writing Rx is held over three days at Orinda Academy (July 31, August 1 & 2). It’s designed to improve high school student writing strategies in a relaxed and supportive environment without the stress of due dates and other homework. This is a popular program, so we recommend you register early to ensure a spot for your high school student.

If you have a middle school student and want to help him or her get a leg up on writing skills this summer, we have just the workshop for you! Check out our Write On workshop for students entering grades 6, 7, and 8.

All SOS4Students Summer Workshops & Coaching

Space is limited. Sign up your student today so he/she doesn’t miss out.

  • All workshops held at Tilden Prep (Walnut Creek Campus) except "Writing Rx" and "Write On" which are held at Orinda Academy. 
  • Summer coaching is available at our Walnut Creek and Montclair District offices.

Middle School Workshops

Mastering Middle School empowers students entering sixth grade. Students learn invaluable skills to tackle the demands of multiple teachers and more complex assignments.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


6th - 8th GradesMake sure your child is prepared for the essay-writing challenges ahead with Write On, where we cover essay fundamentals for middle school students.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


7th & 8th GradeMiddle School Blitz gives your students the strategies they need to have control over their time and workload. Prepare your student to balance classwork, homework and outside activities.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


High School Workshops

9th GradeNailing Ninth Grade prepares your student for a successful transition to high school. Students come away with an invaluable toolbox of study strategies they will use every day.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


9th - 11th GradesWriting RX teaches students an easily replicable system for expository essay writing. Students leave confident and prepared to tackle the complex writing assignments that high school demands.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


9th - 11th GradesSecrets of Successful Note Taking demystifies the note taking process. Students learn techniques to take effective notes and use their notes to prepare for tests and papers.

Learn More & Sign Up Today


Summer Coaching

6th - 12th GradesCan't make the workshop you need? Does your student benefit from more individualized attention? All ages (even after high school) and abilities benefit from the one-on-one summer coaching sessions with our seasoned coaches.

Learn More & Sign Up Today

Warmly,
Beth Samuelson