Dr. Ahmed is Interim Assistant Superintendent of Portland Public Schools 

The end of a school year is a time for rituals and celebrations of all kinds, including field days, performances, promotion from one grade to the next, award ceremonies, and graduations. It’s also a time for parents to think about the next school year.

So after you receive report cards, I suggest you talk to your child’s teachers, and ask what you can do to help your child continue to mature and develop and prepare for the year to come – while you celebrate the year that is past. And ask the teacher if they have suggestions for how to prevent loss of learning over the summer.

Over the summer learning from books should continue for children. High school students might be assigned specific summer reading, with booklists. Or they might be asked to practice math, or another subject. Some students need to work on solidifying habits related to doing well in school. Others might have social emotional needs that need to be supported. Most teachers are happy when parents reach out to them, and want to serve as resources. They have worked with your child for at least an academic year, and have thought about their strengths and their needs. Their input is valuable and can help parents assist their child to thrive.

Younger children too should continue reading in summer so as not to lose skills – and to develop a love of reading. Children of all ages can borrow books for free from libraries. Many libraries offer free programming for children. And libraries and teachers may be able to provide a book list of books popular with those who are your child’s age. Teachers may also know of free or low-cost programs your child could be enrolled in – arts programs, or sports programs, for example. They also have information to share about free nutritional support that is available to children and families over the summer.

For young people the beginning of summer hopefully heralds a period with more time outside, more time to relax, and more time just to have fun. It’s a time of year to celebrate, yes, but also to think about how to prevent loss of learning over the summer. And a time to let your child’s teacher help you set goals and make plans for the coming year. If your child is in high school, reach out to their school counselors, advisors, and teachers. If your child is in elementary or middle school, reach out to their classroom teacher.

The academic year 2022-2023 was a great year, with increasing numbers of parents involved in their children’s education. But let’s make next year even stronger. Remember – in the U.S., parents are expected to oversee their child’s education. Schools expect to hear from parents not only when things are not going well, but also when they are. The closer the connection between the teachers and the parents, the better the experience of the child will be.

Happy summer!