Usually, by this week, we’re winding things down here at Armour Academy. We tend to spend the month of May outside in the spring sunshine, spread out with our books on a picnic blanket. As we head into June this week, I look back and realize we broke out the picnic blanket only once in May, during a reprieve from the rain. I don’t think any of us feel like winding down quite yet, partially because we (usually) really love learning and partially because it just doesn’t feel like it’s time.
Last week we broke out the white board and had a great chat about the coming fall and how we wanted it to look.
Every year I plan to do school through the summer, and every year I fail miserably. I mean, we do a tiny bit of ‘book work’, but it’s very obvious to me that it’s not enough. Every fall we end up doing a pile of review. Last year in particular, the kids had a very difficult time getting back into the groove after a nice long break. There were a LOT of tears (on all sides) and
they were both we were all very frustrated, particularly with math. They had worked so hard all year mastering tough new concepts and then had such difficulties remembering them in the fall.
Last year’s experience made me regret not doing more over the summer.
So this year, I decided to gauge the kids’ interest in various approaches to summer learning. YES, if you’re living, you’re learning. That is definitely true. However this year, I am going to be more intentional about what we’ll be doing, and for how long. I’m going to put together a summer learning plan to make sure that we are in great shape when we ramp things up again in September. They are empowered to do things differently and it’s a joy to see them recognize a problem and work with me, as their Teacher-Mama, to find a solution.
By including the kids in the discussion and laying out some options, they have claimed a stake in their own learning.
We discussed many options, but in the end they decided to give themselves a goal of 1 hour of school work each day of the summer. They even picked which hour they wanted to aim for! They talked it through and decided that 11-12 would be a good time to try, so they could play outside before the peak heat, then come in and wrap up their schooling before lunch and an afternoon of fun with kids from the neighbourhood. As an added bonus I heard “Oh, plus we can sleep in if we want.” (I wish!)
Though their goal is daily, we will be applying a weekly 5 hour quota so we don’t fall behind. This means we can still have the flexibility we desire, skipping school when we feel like it, as long as it’s made up by the end of the week. The boys even talked about what subjects to do, and how much. I’m not a big fan of being too stringent with these things, but hey ~ if they want to, we can give it a try!
I’ve also been thinking that it would be neat to take on the summer challenge of learning in as many places as we can. I’ve got the idea that we could keep a log of the places we learn during the summer, whether we plan it and bring our books, or simply turn a trip to the grocery store into a math lesson. That may be more work that desired for this hater of paperwork, but I do LOVE the idea of it, so we’ll see.
Ultimately, this will give us more free time in our school year, and what kid doesn’t want that?