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It’s Summertime!


It’s Summer and it’s time to Party?!

Summer is here and it’s time to sleep late and get up later, right?  So many things to do and so little time.  Hang out with friends.  Play hours upon hours of online video games.  Watch even more pointless videos on YouTube. Have I missed anything?

These are all things that most boys from 5 to 18 dream of doing.  My oldest is definitely not the exception.  He fights tooth and nail to do all of the above every day.  He’s a normal kid who wants to do normal kid things.  I can’t blame him and I actually don’t mind that he tries to do all that.

But… This is Summer of Junior Year

If you didn’t know it, Junior year of High School is the MOST important year of High School.  Students must cement their High School career with a kick-ass Junior year.  This is probably the year that kids take the most AP classes for the first time.  On top of any EC’s that they have been doing Freshman and Sophomore year.  Then on top of that, you have to take the SAT or ACT.  That is so much on the plate for a student that it will either make you or break you.  

Back to the summer discussion.  My son this summer has a huge amount of things on his plate.  Here are the things that he is doing.

  • Volunteering at Science Camp for two weeks
  • Taking an online SAT Course
  • Performing at multiple concert venues
  • Attending Intensive Music Festival
  • Finally going abroad on Vacation for the First Time!

Volunteering at Science Camp

My son has been associated with this Summer Camp since the sixth grade.  It is a Science and Engineering Camp held at his Middle School every summer.  So for sixth, seventh and eighth grade he was a student at the camp.  

Starting at the end of 9th Grade and this summer he is a counselor here helping the younger kids with any questions or problems.  It is a great way to give back to the program and to receive credit for volunteering.  A great win/win for everybody.  When you volunteer, you should definitely volunteer in a program that you feel strongly about.  You’ll have more passion for it and it won’t seem like a chore.

Taking an online SAT or ACT Course

Taking a SAT/ACT course over this summer is one of the biggest decisions we made for him this summer. Besides the cost for us, the amount of time that he needs to study is substantial.  After researching different SAT courses both online and in person I picked one that seemed the best for us.  I based my decision on Quality, Teachers, and Cost.  

  1. Quality – The course has to be top-notch with proven results and great content
  2. Teachers – The instructors must be experienced and have a proven track record
  3. Cost – I wanted something that wouldn’t break the bank.  Some courses could be thousands of dollars.  I picked one that was good value.  

I will have an in depth review on the SAT Course very very soon.  

Performing at concerts

My son won a competition this past Spring that has proven to be a great avenue for more exposure.  He had a great rapport with the Conductor of the Orchestra that he played with and was asked to play for him again.  His first opportunity enabled him to play a whole concerto with an orchestra at Lincoln Center.  The second opportunity was to play at a musical series of performances in different areas in our county.  Wonderful experiences to really get his name out there and to meet people.  

Attending Music Festival

My son’s private cello teacher has been running a Music Festival for the last few decades.  That has afforded my son and now daughter the chance to attend the Festival.  The Festival is about three weeks and he absolutely loves being involved in it.  He has learned tremendously the last few years and made lots of friends from around the world.  

What is a Music Festival?

A Music Festival is not a camp.  When you attend a Festival it is intensive study and performance of your musical instrument.  There are private lessons, orchestra and chamber groups, and performances over the course of the whole Festival.  You will probably learn more in a few weeks than over the course of a year at a music school.  (Not just my thinking but something my son’s friend told him that attended the festival and Manhattan School of Music.)  Take what you want from that.  Not trying to disparage MSS but just qualifying the intensity of the Festival.  Never ask a Music Festival attendee or faculty about the “Camp”.

Going on Vacation

This is the first time my family and I are going on vacation abroad so we are super excited.  I really wanted to do something soon before it was too late and my son went off to college.  Up until now we have been going mostly camping in different areas in NY, NJ, DE, RI, and Maine.  The kids liked camping but they really want a place that has some modern amenities.  A bathroom that you don’t have to try to find in the middle of the night. A shower that you don’t have to feed quarters to get hot water.  Totally reasonable requests.  

How did you afford your trip?

We were able to afford the trip by indirectly saving for the trip.  We didn’t save directly for the trip by setting money aside.  We were able to create “money” by accruing credit card mileage points.  The greatest thing since sliced bread.  If you don’t have a credit card that has points you are doing a disservice to your family.  I will have a future article on the benefits of credit cards for the modern Tiger family.(Read the article here.)  Huge savings and the ability to save for big family trips otherwise too hard to go on.  

We will also be using online tutors again this year.  What we personally used was Wyzant.

The following tips were created by with the help of private tutors all around the country:

1. Don’t make yourself at home.
Test preparation extends beyond pure mastery of the information you’re being tested on. In the case of the SAT and ACT, you must prepare yourself physically for hours of continuous sitting – and you won’t be sitting in a La-Z-Boy or sprawled out on a plush mattress. The age old adage “train as you fight” is applicable to standardized testing – for maximum success, try to replicate the testing environment as much as possible while studying at home. Many typical at-home distractions including music, snacks, and electronics are not permitted during examinations so you should eliminate them from your personal study space.
Quick tips:
Don’t study in a reclined position or while laying down.

Only allow yourself the amount of bathroom breaks or study breaks allotted for the actual test.

If you can’t study in pure silence, set your station to Classical.

2. Treat yourself.
Sometimes you need some extra incentive to help you get excited for an upcoming study session. Whether it be a professional planner, a fancy notebook, a cool pen, or a decorative calendar, even the smallest upgrade can help revamp your attitude while studying. Additionally, a notable 2011 Chicago study suggests that post-exam incentives are effective in improving test performance. Rewards that immediately followed the test were the most effective in improving performance, so time is of the essence. Apply the learnings from this report to your study sessions – with the promise of your favorite treat or a trip to the mall with a friend looming, you’ll be eager to reach that light at the end of tunnel.

3. Go old school
Your smartphone is like a digital Swiss Army knife when it comes to study resources. Chances are your phone contains a thesaurus, dictionary, calculator, translator, measurement converter and more- all of which fit in the palm of your hand. While this is a space efficient solution, it may not be the most conducive to studying due to the abundance of non-academic functions your phone performs. Go back to the basics and dig out your parent’s old books and resources.

Quick tips:
If you prefer the digital version for your study tools, turn your phone to airplane mode so you can’t receive email and text alerts.

4. Get a timer.
Hold yourself accountable for your time spent studying. Establishing a series of smaller goals will help you stay on track and feel accomplished at the end of every session. Set a realistic timeframe for each assignment (eg: finish 15 problems in the next 2 hours), believe in yourself and your ability to accomplish this goal, and go for it. When you finish your task you’ll feel great! If you don’t finish, reexamine your designated timeframe or think about what you can do better next time.

5. Appeal to the senses.
Humans are equipped with five senses for a reason – use them to your advantage! Psychologists have long studied the effect that certain colors and scents can have on mood. Altering what you see and smell are two low-maintenance environmental factors you can easily customize within your study space. Each person has different preferences and responses to stimuli so identify what motivates you to study and be productive.

Quick tips:
Cool colors (blue, green, purple) are calming and may be helpful for people who are naturally more alert of anxious by nature.

Warm colors (red, yellow, orange) are more stimulating and may be better suited for people who need a little extra energy boost.

Lemon, Lavender, Jasmine, Rosemary, Cinnamon and Peppermint are recommended for boosting mood and productivity.

1 Comment

Middle School Summer Vacation 2017 - Tiger Dad -The Hidden Partner to every Tiger Mom · July 19, 2017 at 2:39 pm

[…] I wrote a lot about our first trip abroad in the High School Summer 2017 article.  We will be going to Paris!  Now is the time for my Tiger wife and me to do our homework […]

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