Summer Academics Or Summer Forget-Its?

Part 1: 5 Ways To Make Summer Parenting Easier

Part 2: Our Summer Fun List

Part 3: Our Summer Chore List

One of the more frustrating things about typical American education is the three-month summer break. Not that we aren’t taking full advantage of lazy mornings, pools and vacation time, but year-round school makes so much more sense. Kids stay in their routines and remember what they’ve learned so we waste less time reviewing materials and classroom etiquette come September.

While I believe in year-round school, I will admit that, as I kid, I hated anything school-related during the summer. Academic camps and other such nonsense were not okay. The only exception was the yearly reading lists because they introduced me to more amazing books to devour all summer long (although I never liked being told which ones to read). And I maintained enough of what I learned to do quite well every year.

My kids seem to do even more than maintain. Our summers are periods of intense growth academically even when I don’t organize it into our days. Part of it is just my kids’ personalities and learning styles and part is that I enjoy having lofty conversations with my kids about philosophy, current events, space, time and all the mysteries of the universe, and while I tailor our conversations to age-appropriate approaches, I never talk down to them, which means we learn the definitions of many words as well.

However, this year I’ve wanted to be a little more organized when it comes to learning to see if it makes a larger difference when school begins again for my kids. I also feel like both my kids are the cusp of making huge strides in their reading, writing, and math levels, and I just want to see how far they can go with an extra summer boost.

Reading: 15-60 minutes
I have one kid who will read for hours and one who doesn’t have the confidence yet so I set up a 15 minute minimum. This way the kid, who naturally reads, doesn’t feel like reading is a chore to get done and the kid, who is a less confident reader, is pushed to try a little longer. I also add “reading to” as part of our reading time together not all of it.

Writing: 2-5 sentences
Sometimes we write about the book we are reading and sometimes just about our day. It can be illustrated as well but each child is working on slightly difference fundamentals in their writing skills so I may remind one to capitalize letters and the other can slide on punctuation.  I love writing so I am walking a fine line here of encouragement and OMG MOM WHY DO WE HAVE TO WRITE AGAIN.

Art:
As with writing, art can be added in to illustrate what we are reading and writing, but we will also be playing with our amazing craft boxes and just free drawing.

Volcano
Volcano art: plaster, painting, and exploding. The perfect experiment.

Music:
We continue piano lessons although less often throughout the summer. However, singing, dancing, and breaking out the pots and pans also suffice.

Math:
This was my most challenging area to create work that was both interesting and easy to integrate. Some schools will give access to online materials throughout the summer and there are some great workbooks out there as well. In our day-to-day activities, I have them earning money for chores as well as spending some of their gift cards from birthdays (and even Christmas!) so they have to add and subtract to figure out how much they must earn and what they can buy.

I will admit that as the end of June rolls in, we’ve only managed reading, art and music, but I have many days stretched ahead of me to conquer the rest of our list, RIGHT?

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Alex Iwashyna went from an undergraduate degree in political philosophy to a medical degree to a stay-at-home mom, poet and writer by the age of 30. Now she spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog, except when it’s serious, about life, parenting, marriage, culture, religion and politics. She has a muse of a husband, two young kids, four cats, one dog, and a readership that gives her hope for humanity.