The weather is balmy, the sun is bright, and there is a palpable sense of excitement in the air. That can only mean one thing: At long last, summer is here.
Summer break is a necessary part of a traditional school year. After ten months toiling away in a classroom, kids need some time to recharge their batteries, strengthen their social ties and explore interests and hobbies. That’s true of students in brick-and-mortar schools and online students.
But that doesn’t mean the summer ought to be completely void of learning. It is possible to enjoy a thoroughly enriching July and August while still getting ahead in courses, catching up on requisite credits, upgrading marks, or learning for learning’s sake. With Ontario eSecondary School’s online classes for high school, your teen can partake in popular summer courses while still accommodating a flourishing social life and extracurricular pursuits.
In this article, we’re taking a closer look at summer school. We’ll run through the reasons for taking summer courses and the particular advantages of online summer school. Finally, we will introduce you to a few popular courses we offer at OES.
Break out the flip-flops and put on your learning caps – we’re heading to summer school.
Why Take Summer School?
Ultimately, the choice to attend summer courses is between you and your high schooler. For some, the choice is clear. They need to include some summer learning to stay on course with their academic goals. Others, however, may benefit from a break.
Talk to your teen about the prospect of taking summer courses. To help steer the conversation, consult the following section: a short list of the benefits of taking courses in the summer.
If your teen is eager to learn, summer school is the perfect opportunity to get ahead. Taking regular grade 9-12 courses during the summer months allows your kid to zip through high school at a quicker pace. This can be advantageous for students planning to submit early applications to post-secondary institutions or those who wish to pursue early career opportunities in their senior year of high school.
For a complete list of the regular courses we offer at Ontario eSecondary School, consult the “Our Courses” section of our website.
Catch Up on Courses
Failing grades happen. But they are neither a defining or lasting feature of a student’s academic career. Education always allows for second chances (and third, and fourth, etc.)
If your teen recently failed a course, either at a traditional school or through an online school, they may choose to allocate time in the summer to retry. Upon successfully completing a previously failed course (which may take longer than the summer months, it should be noted), they can re-enter school in the fall without missing a beat.
You and your teen may also choose to catch up on courses as a means of securing their preferred post-secondary degree. University and college departments have varying prerequisite requirements; if your teen doesn’t possess a particular prerequisite, they can spend time in the summer working toward it.
Speaking of post-secondary requirements, universities and colleges have “minimum entering grades.” This recent MacLean’s article lists minimum grades according to different Canadian universities and their faculties. For instance, to enter Engineering at McGill, a student needs a minimum entering grade of 92-96%.
If you have your heart set on Montreal to become a civil engineer, but your grades hover below the minimum, all is not lost. You can upgrade high school courses online this summer.
Upgrade courses are intended for students who want to improve their grade in a previously completed course. They feature a condensed assessment load (with fewer or shorter assessments) that students can generally move through at a quicker pace.
Avoid the Summer Slump
Finally, summer courses are an effective hedge against the dreaded “summer slump.” The summer slump – formally referred to as summer learning loss – is a noted, widespread phenomenon referring to the gradual erosion of skills and education over the long summer break.
Roughly a decade ago, the Council of Ontario Directors of Education published an influential study on summer learning loss, in which they tested the effects of summer programs on later educational outcomes. The study was conducted among primary students, but one can reasonably extrapolate that the findings apply to high schoolers as well. And the findings were unequivocal: summer programs help a great deal.
To keep your brain moving, visit the OES site to learn more about our available courses, or feel free to contact us with questions.
Online Summer School: a Flexible Alternative
In the prior section, we explored the reasons for taking summer courses of any kind – a broad look at the advantages of learning in July and August. Now, let’s turn our attention for a moment toward the specific benefits of online learning.
Here at Ontario eSecondary School, we understand that online learning isn’t for every teen (a bold stance for an online school, but one that, we believe, respects the variation and complexity of teenage learners). Still, we’d like to share a few perks of online education; consider these as you discuss summer courses with your teen.
Flexible Start and End Dates
Your young learner can start online courses whenever they wish, and take as much or as little time as they need for completion (between four weeks and 12 months).
Because the courses are flexible, they do not interfere with all the things that make summer fun – vacations, summer camps, volunteer opportunities, internships, beach hangouts with friends, etc.
If your teen doesn’t finish their regular or upgrade course in the waning weeks of summer, they don’t need to fret. Online courses are self-paced, which means that your kid can allocate their time according to their unique learning needs.
If they come up against a particularly challenging section, they may take longer to learn. If certain concepts come naturally to them, their pace may quicken. It is an individualized model for learning that ensures each student’s educational timeline makes sense. Compare this to a brick-and-mortar summer course, which keeps (often) inflexible hours, and where a classroom of students, each with unique dispositions and talents, must follow a single pace.
Available, Accessible and Supportive
Ask an online learner why they love their school, and you may hear this in response: “It’s right there at my fingertips.”
No commute required. No slapping the snooze button of their alarm to catch a few extra minutes of much-needed sleep before they shuffle off to the bus. Online courses are available in your teen’s room, at the kitchen table, the local library, the coffee shop around the corner, their friend’s cottage in Muskoka – anywhere.
And throughout your teen’s course, they will find support in the form of outstanding teachers and easy-to-access 24/7 tutoring.
Popular Summer School Courses
So far, we’ve explored the “why” of online summer courses. Now, let’s turn our attention to specifics: what are some popular online summer courses?
Consider this section a dose of inspiration: a few course descriptions to get you thinking concretely about the prospect of attending class at OES. By no means exhaustive or complete, this list represents a few commonly selected courses available through our Ministry of Education inspected online high school.
For a full list of available courses, click on the “Our Courses” dropdown menu of our website, find the appropriate grade, and access course descriptions to the right.
Advanced Functions can be challenging for many students. Those who wish to upgrade their marks in Advanced Functions – either in preparation for university applications or to improve self-confidence in the subject – should consider our MHF4U upgrade course.
The course aims to extend students’ experience with functions. In it, they’ll cover several critical functions (polynomial, trigonometric, rational and logarithmic), as well as techniques for combining functions. They will also continue learning about rates of change. Visit our upgrade MHFU pages for more information.
Chem class is more than just mixing copper and nitric acid to create a vibrant bluish solution (although, admittedly, the reaction is cool). It also enables students to deepen their understanding of the structure and properties of matter, energy changes, equilibrium, electrochemistry and organic chemistry. It is a full, investigative deep dive into the rich, endlessly applicable field of chemical processes.
For this reason, grade 11 and grade 12 chemistry are popular choices with summer learners. Whether your teen is eager to pull ahead in high school, or determined to improve their marks, explore our various chem courses: SCH3U, SCH4U and their upgrade alternatives.
Plenty of college and university programs involve math: human services, health sciences, business programs and select skilled trades. First-year college students often speak with hushed reverence about the intensity of post-secondary math. Yes, it can be challenging. But it’s a lot easier with some advanced preparation.
That’s where College Math (MAP4C) comes in handy. In this course, students broaden their knowledge of the real-world applications of math. They analyze data, solve financial problems, apply geometry and trigonometry to solve common problems, and much more. It is a fantastic way to ease the transition between the high school math they are accustomed to, and the advanced math that lies beyond.
We mentioned it earlier, but it bears repeating – every learner is different. Some feel entirely at home in their English class, while others require more effort, and perhaps an upgrade course, to feel confident in the subject.
Luckily, online summer school is a convenient way to retake English, upgrade English or get ahead in the subject. In grades 9 and 10, students hone their skills in oral communication, reading, writing, and media literacy through various texts, both contemporary and historical. In grades 11 and 12, students further that journey, deepening their critical thinking and creative thinking skills with increasingly challenging texts. Your teen can also take ENG4U university English to prepare for their grand entrance into post-secondary learning.
Reading is a fruitful summer activity as is; your teen might as well get credit for their summer reading endeavours!
If your teen has their heart set on a university program in business, the social sciences or humanities, they will find grade 12 data management particularly profitable.
The course broadens students’ understanding of math relating to managing data. In it, students learn how to analyze and organize large volumes of data, and integrate different statistical concepts and skills. Crucially, it introduces students to processes used in senior mathematics. It’s an ideal course for all the number-crunchers out there.
Equity and Social Justice
It is heartening to see how passionate younger generations are about social justice. More than perhaps any time in the past, young people are tuned in, socially and politically conscious, and intellectually active in discussions surrounding equity.
For some, our Equity and Social Justice course (HSE4M) doesn’t feel like “school” at all. Rather, it is a rousing foray into how and why we should bring about positive social change. Students will learn about the theoretical, social, and historical underpinnings of various social justice and equity issues. They will explore power relations and other factors that influence justice. And they will design and implement social action initiatives.
Please note the prerequisites for this course: “Any university, college, or university/college preparation course in social sciences and humanities, English, or Canadian and world studies.”
Like previous entries on this list, Physics remains a popular upgrade course because of how challenging it can be the first time around. At OES, we offer both Physics 11 and Physics 12 as an upgrade course. Some students find their grade 11 Physics to be the more demanding educational feat because the concepts are so new (grade 12 Physics features many topics in review). But, as we’ve stated before, every learner is different. Some students may find grade 12 Physics the more onerous course.
In the grade 11 Physics upgrade course (SPH3U), students cover the basic concepts of physics. They look at different kinds of forces and energy transformations. They explore kinematics (particularly the kinematics of linear motion). They learn about the properties of mechanical waves and sound. And they dive into the electrifying world of electricity and magnetism.
We hope you’ve found our rundown of popular summer courses (and the benefits of taking them online) edifying. Talk with your teen about taking a course through OES. If you have any questions, refer to the helpful FAQ section of our website or feel free to reach out. In any case, enjoy the sunny Ontario summer (fleeting though it may be). And happy studying.