Ideas for the best use of the summertime

Educational Specialist Carolyn McWilliams, MA, shares advice for parents on the best summertime activities for children that help kids to be high achievers
Ideas For The Best Use Of Your Child's Summertime - Kids In The House
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Ideas for the best use of the summertime

The summer is often seen as time for completely… to have free play and for the child to just be themselves. However, what educational research shows is it’s not achievement during the school year that makes the difference between students who are high achievers and students who are not achieving quite as well. But it’s actually what happens over the summer. Because parents of high achieving students seek out stimulating activities during the summer that other parents aren’t perhaps able to provide. This doesn’t mean that you need to sit down with your child all summer long and do drills in a workbook. This is not fun for you, it’s not fun for the child and it’s isn’t building their brain and expanding their experiences. But summer is a time to learn things there aren’t time for during the school year. It’s a time to go to the museums, it’s a time to read books, it’s a time to join book clubs, it’s a time to be able to explore a new skill they haven’t had a chance to be able to learn previously, whether those skills are social skills, physical skills or academic skills. So I think summer is one of the most wonderful times in the world, because the parent and the child themselves gets a chance to be able to design the curriculum and to be able to explore the child’s passions. So yes, schoolwork is important over the summer, but perhaps it isn’t what we traditionally think of as schoolwork.

Educational Specialist Carolyn McWilliams, MA, shares advice for parents on the best summertime activities for children that help kids to be high achievers


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Carolyn McWilliams, MA

Educational Specialist

Carolyn is currently an educational therapist and educational consultant helping students, parents, and schools meet the challenges of gifted students with learning challenges through her offices in Santa Monica, California. Carolyn also does general consulting with schools on topics from curriculum development to teaching study skills to interpretation of student test scores.

Carolyn began her educational career in Santa Barbara, California, where she received her B.A. and M.A. and became a Ph.D. candidate in Educational Administration with an emphasis on Curriculum and Instruction. She served as a supervisor of student teachers and taught courses across the educational curriculum during her eight years at UCSB.

After completing her studies, Carolyn moved to Los Angeles where she served as the head of Adat Ari El Day School in Valley Village and as a consultant on issues of learning and instruction to Jewish day schools across the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Spectrum, as well as to elementary and secondary schools of all types. During this time she also served on the faculty of California State University at Northridge.

The parent of three highly gifted daughters of her own (one with learning challenges), throughout her career, Carolyn has designed innovative strategies, as well as unique programs to help gifted students achieve life success. She established the Johns Hopkins Center for Academically Talented Youth (CTY) Summer Commuter Program held at the University of California Los Angeles and served as parent liaison for the CTY to the press and larger community. She was the founder and head of Bridges Academy, which serves a population of twice-exceptional students in grades 6-12, from 1994-2003 (

Carolyn has been a classroom teacher in both Goleta Union and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. She was LAUSD Teacher of the Year, was one of five finalists for California Teacher of the Year, and was given an Outstanding Educator Award by the Los Angeles Times. She has published curriculum and articles in the areas of special education, social studies, English, educational computing, ESL, multi-cultural education, study skills, and classroom organization. She regularly presents at conferences and schools on topics related to curriculum, instruction, classroom organization, gifted students, and special needs populations. 

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