How do I Choose the Best Free Summer School?

Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders

Although there are definitely benefits to having an extended vacation for rest and relaxation, it's smart to focus on providing students with enrichment opportunities throughout the year. Summer school can build on the skills children learn during the year or provide a chance to explore special interests in greater detail. While it's true that many summer schools do charge tuition fees, there are free classes available as well.

A person's local school district may offer free summer school.
A person's local school district may offer free summer school.

The most common source of free summer school programs is your local school district. Summer classes are usually offered for elementary, junior high, and high school students. However, students must often meet specific eligibility criteria such as having a low income, being from a disadvantaged minority group, needing extra help in one or more key academic areas, or having to make up a class in order to graduate on time. Your child's teacher will usually send home a notice if your son or daughter is eligible for this type of summer school.

Summer school programs might give children the chance to catch up on subjects they find difficult.
Summer school programs might give children the chance to catch up on subjects they find difficult.

In many communities, public libraries provide free summer school classes. These programs mostly focus on encouraging children to develop a lifelong love of reading. However, there may also be art, dance, and music workshops or lectures from experts on various topics. Pre-registration may be required and parents may be asked to attend events with their children, so contact your library for details.

Depending upon where you live, museums can be excellent sources of summer classes for students of all ages. Most art, science, or history museums have an education director who is responsible for coordinating public tours, workshops, and special events. Classes can fill up fast, however, so it's best to plan ahead if you're interested in this type of opportunity for your child.

Colleges and universities sometimes provide free summer school programs for high school students. These classes are usually fairly short, but they are often taught by professors with several years of experience. For students who are unsure of their post-secondary education plans, this type of free summer school can be a good way to learn more about all options that are available.

Finally, free online classes are available from places such as Stanford, Yale, the University of Notre Dame, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Covering everything from English literature to the history of Christianity, these classes are generally self-paced, non-credit courses. This type of educational opportunity is most appropriate for academically advanced junior high and high school students with a serious interest in a specific subject area.

Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders

Dana holds a B.A. in journalism and mass communication from the University of Iowa. She has loved being part of the wiseGEEK team ever since discovering the joys of freelance writing after her son was born. Dana also hones her writing skills by contributing articles to various blogs, as well as creating sales copy and content for e-courses.

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Discussion Comments


@Subway11 - I know that summer school online courses are also great if your child wants to study a course that is not offered in school. For example, I want my kids to learn Latin because I think that it will help them not only with their English grammar, but it will also help them with complex vocabulary and SAT testing later on.

The problem is that their school does not offer Latin so they have to take online summer school classes. They love it. Online summer school classes are great because my kids really don’t have time to study Latin during the school year, but have plenty of time to learn it in the summer.


@Cafe41 - That is great. I think that many of these summer school programs really offer a lot of options for kids and they really help them narrow down potential career choices.

My son loves science and math but there are so many possible career choices that programs like this allow him to sample a potential career choice without a lot of commitment.

I think that they should have more programs like this to help young people narrow down their choices because I think that going to college and not knowing what you want to study can be a little intimidating.


I know that a lot of prestigious universities offer summer school scholarships for middle school and high school students that demonstrate high achievement. I think that a lot of them look at the student’s percentile ranking in standardized achievement testing as well as look for IQ testing in the superior or very superior intellectual range.

My friend’s daughter was able to get a full summer school scholarship to one of these programs which was great because a two week stay would have cost her family $3,000. These programs really expose kids to really kids to great programs. She was telling me that the program that she was offered was in veterinary science program for middle schoolers. She was in heaven because she really loves science as well as animals.

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