The other day I ran into a friend at my office (aka Starbucks). He asked what my kids were up to this summer and the subject of workbooks came up. I confessed, as I’m doing to each and every one of you here, that I don’t make my kids do one single bit of school friendly learning all summer long. No workbooks. No flash cards. No educational camps. Nothing.
I’m a firm believer that kids need a break from schoolwork. Not learning, but schoolwork. For 9 months out of the year, my kids are told they have to learn a certain way. They sit in a classroom, follow instructions, and learn the pre-determined curriculum. I’m lucky that it comes pretty easily to them (so far) and that they work hard for their teachers.
I find that giving them 3 months a year to learn in very different ways is also important for their growth and development.
So here’s what they’ve been up to…
He’s been reading. A lot. Not only did he finish his book club book in record time, he spent an afternoon chiseling a rock into an arrow like the character in the book. Not because it was an assignment, but because he had lots of free time and thought it would be fun. He’s also been writing letters to mail to friends and family. I love seeing how he thinks and what he wants to share. On top of that, he’s been to a couple sports camps. (He insisted on sports only this year.) He walked away from basketball camp learning a lot about character. He walked away from baseball camp with a new friend, as well as a coach who told him that he has the potential to be great, but potential without hard work means nothing. What awesome life lessons—on and off the field.
Since we’re uptight techies and don’t let our kids use iPads/Phones 93% of the time (though their LeapFrog devices get plenty of play), come airplane rides, they have free reign. We added Sky Fish Phonics—a fun, educational app our friend created for early readers—to the iPad and he couldn’t get enough. By the time we got home from vacation, he was asking to read to me at night. So together we’ve been exploring books he can read. Not because I think he should, but because he thinks he can. He’s also made a couple of his own board games with paper and markers, had some seriously fun bug-hunting playdates with buddies, and has been writing more of his own songs (with Big’s spelling help—win/win!).
She’s been doing everything in her power to learn how a 3-year old can act like a teenager. And she’s nailing it.
Oh, and all of the kids recently pulled out the marble tracks we created last summer. Physics, teamwork, problem solving, conflict management, injury treatment…the lessons are endless!
Now that our summer is slowing down, and we’re bound to have more time for edutainment, I’m excited to have Common Sense Media’s Summer Learning Guide. My favorite part about it is that it’s not organized like a classroom schedule (i.e. reading, math, etc.). The categories include: Explore the World, Hands-On Science, Get Creative, Tinkering & Tech, Learn Together, and Multimedia Memories. The guide offers ideas for kids ages 2-17, so no matter where you are in your parenting journey, you’re bound to come out with a win or two.
What about you? Do you worry about the summer slide? Or do you ride it (no hands!) like we do?
This post was inspired by Common Sense Media’s Summer Learning Guide. As a Common Sense Media Learn ON Ambassador, I’m honored that I get the chance to share Common Sense Media’s great work. This non-partisan, not-for-profit company is helping parents everywhere navigate the new digital landscape, and even the most tech-savvy people I know turn to them for help. I hope you will too.