Monday, April 25, 2011

Summer Schoolin'

Every year my kids look at Summer Vacation with mixed emotions:

YEAH! We're out of school!!!!
BOO! Mom is making us do homework every day.

I would be so much easier if I could just send my kids to a tutoring company once or twice a week to get the requisite amount of academic exercise. But unfortunately that's just not in the Texan Budget right now.

Two summers ago, I made lesson plans and charted a calendar for our progress. I scoured the internet for spelling lists. I planned science experiments. I bought maps of the world.

Then life happened, and I forgot to schedule "life" into our summer school plan. #teachingFAIL

Last summer I decided that I still wanted my kids to engage their brains over the summer. I didn't want to reinvent the wheel, though. So I just bought these workbooks from Sam's Club. The workbooks have 5 sections so I just picked various pages from each section for my kids to do each day. They had to do this Monday through Friday before they got any computer time. I was happy because it gave them something to do besides staring at the TV or giving their thumbs a workout on the video games (granted, we didn't even have the Wii yet at this point, but we had plug-n-play games). The worksheets were great and I didn't care if most of the work was review. Sometimes my kids needed a little nudge, because they'd be getting into some new topics, but I was just interested in keeping their brains active. I wasn't looking for them to jump a grade by fall or anything.

So this summer, I'm changing it up again. I've decided that this summer we're going to focus on READING. I'm going to compile a list of books that the kids can choose from. They need to read at least one book a week, and write a book report about the book. I'll probably have different styles they can use for the report: poster, written report, diorama, etc. But I want them to improve on their writing - both composition and penmanship.

Since we're on the topic, am I the only one who's wondering, why don't kids have to use cursive anymore? My kids all learned it in 2nd grade, but are never required to actually use it. Peppermint Patty is in 5th grade and still prints everything. WHY IS THAT???

So, that's the plan. I know, life will get in the way again. I'll have to be flexible and let some things go. And maybe I'll get those workbooks as backup anyway.

So what are you doing with your kids this summer to keep their brains sharp???

Texan Mama


April said...

Do you know that my daughter, who's now in the 8th grade, was never taught cursive writing in school? They don't do that, anymore! Isn't that CRAZY? So, she's basically taught herself. I think what you're planning over the summer for your kids will help them stay on the right track with learning. I always encourage my girls to READ!

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) said...

I used to require cursive, but then I was required to teach so many other things, I ran out of time to be demanding in that regard.

One thing I used to do with Mac was a summer job jar. I'd write tasks on cards and he'd draw one from a jar each day. He liked that.

May I suggest you select some books that have been turned into movies, and then on bad weather days you can celebrate your great book talks and work with a movie version. What a great way to compare and contrast.

Ellie who is in her classroom right now where summer seems far, far off...

Bridgett said...

Sophia's school teaches cursive, thank goodness, because there's nothing better to help the growing dyslexic/dysgraphic brain than a writing method in which you can't reverse individual letters.

She even said, with a sigh, one time, "I wish they had cursive numbers."

Jennifer said...

Do you know this is something I've never even really thought about? My kids spend all summer in daycare and I have no idea what they do with them. This will be the first year I've had a "schooler" so I'm not sure what happens with school age kids. I guess maybe I need to find that out.

I love the idea of encouraging them to read books, and then letting them watch the movie that goes with it.

Anna See said...

Uh, I haven't thought about it yet. I need to get through the next 2.5 months of spring sports and science project stress and I'll get back to you. I DO need to think about this b/c we'd all watch tv all day if I let us.

Gigi said...

This isn't something I ever really did, or thought about. But then he was in daycare and I assumed they were doing stuff. But he read (and still does) quite a bit during down time. Personally, I think reading is key anyway. If you can't read, and process the information, then you certainly can't figure out everything else. I do think it's important to keep their minds active over summer - good job, you! They'll thank you for it eventually.

Gigi said...

OH! And cursive? I think Man-Child was taught the basics back in third (??) grade but was then never required to use it after. I don't think he even remembers it. Most of his reports, etc. are done on the computer now. Unfortunately, I think cursive is a dying subject.

tz said...

I do mom-homework too. I bought a book called 365 experiments...some of them are fun.

I asked my third-grader's teacher about the handwriting thing...I was pretty much told to give up and have him use the computer...

Joanna said...

I remember being taught cursive in 2nd grade, and we intend on teaching our kids even if a school won't.

When I was little, my mom always had me write thank you notes in cursive, and a lot of my teachers required that reports also be in cursive. I think it looks so elegant and it's just attractive to read!

Eat. Live. Laugh. and sometimes shop! said...

My kids read each day (reminders are rarely required). I will generally buy a few workbooks but do not have much of a plan in that regard. They work on them haphazardly.

I'm starting to think I need a real plan.

Minka Fieldstone said...

Every time I've tried workbooks -- it doesn't work. They seem too much like school, and I am waaaayyy too nostalgic for the summers of my own childhood to inflict this on my kids. For me, summer = playtime. But I don't think our kids get enough of that anymore, which is why I value it as a precious commodity.

I send my kids to camps where they do a variety of things like sports and arts n crafts (which I think really do use the brain). We do art projects that are fun and messy (again, I think being creative is HUGELY important to mental development). Both my kids play musical instruments, so we'll continue to practice those at least three times a week and possibly continue lessons throughout the summer. (Again, non-academic, but extremely good for mental development). And then, they read their books.

I guess the short version (which is stupid now that I've done the long version! I guess you can tell how organized a mom I am! ha!) is that I try to find non-academic ways to keep them stimulated and challenged, so that they seem fun and not educational. We also buy those science kits from time to time and every so often if we can find a fun science camp, we'll send our kids for a week-long session.

Life has gotten too hard and too stressful as it is. I think summer, especially for kids, should be about freedom and fun... and parents being sneaky about how to keep their children's brains from rotting!

Sturgmom said...

I always have grand intentions of doing "school" with my children and then my own laziness derails everything.

I'm a homeschooler at heart, so I do have some ideas of things I want to do this summer. But before I start anything, I HAVE to plan it out or it will never get done at all.

Most of all, though, I want to do FUN things. We may even see about visiting some local places (coca cola bottling place, M&M/Mars place) for tours. Fun and educational!

Don E. Chute said...

Good Lord thank God my kids are grown!

If I was back in the school saddle again I would want my kids to be 100% home schooled.

Just don't trust those government indoctrination centers.

Happy Trails...

Carrie Thompson said...

We school year round---my kids dont really know that "summer" is supposed to be break time becuase they were never taught that! :) We take MANY breaks through out the year. I never thought about what public schoolers do during the summer with their kids though-- as a child my mom never made us do school work but one of the reasons we school year round is that I believe we can always be learning-- I don't see what taking a break (during the hottest time of the year when you don't want to be outside anyway) does anyone any good.

I suppose workbooks are a great idea to keep the kids brains moving! Reading lists are great-- we of course do the reading programs from library, HEB, Barnes and Noble, Half Price Books..etc.

We joined the HOuston Nature Challenge-- I believe they have one for your neck of the woods-- challanges at different parks and outside activities that you might not otherwise get out and DO.

As a home schooler-- I must admit I find it a struggle, my normal routines are "messed" up by crowds and I alwasy love when fall comes back around. ;0)