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Learning Over the Summer

by Joe Lawrence | June 29th, 2016 | Elementary, School
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reading-a-book“No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks” were the Alice Cooper lyrics I sang as I crossed the threshold from my classroom to the freedom that awaited. Then summer was time for us to dump all that we learned throughout the year. I think this is a horrible mindset to have as an adult and would hate to foster thoughts like this in my children. Summer is a break, but we can still encourage our children to develop some skills they had learned.

My quick disclaimer. I love teachers and the idea of school; however, I greatly dislike the learning by rote methodology. I see very little value in memorizing a bunch of information simply to take a test. Instead, I would rather see the information being applied in a practical way to that is more akin to the real world. It is very rare that I have to memorize a bunch of random facts at work…just in case.

Now, our daughter is only going into first grade so my summer plan for her isn’t to cure cancer; that is next year. This year I had looked at what she was learning in kindergarten and tried to think of how it could be applied. She learned to read, basic math and basic writing skills. I then came up with some ways to apply this.

Reading is something I want my children to value. There is great value in being able to read and understand. This is the foundation of everything. If you can read well, you can write your own ticket to the future. The trick at her age is finding something that is going to challenge her, but not frustrate her. Thankfully, there are many books with the reading levels right on the cover. We make it a big treat to go to the library or bookstore and let her pick out a couple of books she is interested in, and then we check to make sure it will be a good fit for her.

Next to keep her writing skills alive, I have her keep a journal. It is pretty basic and she just writes a line or two and draws a picture. For example, we played in the sprinkler yesterday and then ate popsicles on the swing set. This forces reflection, penmanship practice and teaches self-discipline.

Lastly, for math she was learning counting, addition and subtraction. There is no better way to teach this than to educate her about money. My goal for this summer is for her to learn the value of a dollar. She gets an allowance, and it is up to her to manage it. If she wants a toy, it has to come from this money. She is saving up for an American Girl doll ($120) and still wants small toys to play with. This is a great opportunity for us to continue her education.

Look for ways to keep the learning alive this summer.

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