Well, for my kids last Thursday marked the last day of school and the beginning of summer. Every summer we talk about how we are going to continue to exercise our minds during the summer in addition to all the summer fun activities. Inevitably though, those plans go by the wayside and summer becomes primarily about relaxation and having fun.
This year in the Stocks household, we decided to bring some structure to the idea of continuing to exercise our minds and focus on specific things which will both supplement and expand on the kids school work as well as cover some things which they no longer teach in school that the kids need to know.
Thus far, the response has varied. My soon to be six year old boy is excited about the idea as is my ten year old daughter. My twelve year old son, on the other hand, has already pronounced several times that I am ruining his summer.
I thought it might be fun to use this blog for some family stuff this summer and keep you apprised of our “assignments” as well as post some of the kids’ stuff. Here is the structure we settled on as well as the preliminary areas that we picked to cover this summer.
Summer Fun School will consist of a variety of “assignments” or tasks. Unlike more traditional school, the focus of these assignment will not be on the adult teaching the kids. Instead, for many of the assignments, the kids will be assigned a topic and there job will be to “teach us” about the topic. I have found in my own life that the best way to learn something is to teach it, so I am excited about this approach.
Assignments are given early with at least one week to complete. All aspects of learning count for all assignments, so we will pay attention to spelling and grammar even in math and social studies assignments and we will pay attention to things like logical thinking even in writing assignments.
Here is what we’ve selected to cover this summer by topic. We will have to see how much we can actually cover. My goal was to set the bar high and go from there.
MATH: We will be doing timed tests on addition, subtraction, multiplication and division up to 15. with the older kids, and starting addition and subtraction for Nathan. These timed tests are designed to make sure the kids “just know” the answers to all of these before we move on to what I really want to cover which is “quick math.” Quick math is a way of thinking about math that makes harder problems easier. For example, it is easier to multiply a number by ten and then divide by 2 rather than to multiply a number by five. Try 117 times 5? 585! There are a slew of “tricks” like that for the kids to learn, but they need to have a very solid grasp on the underlying calculations for it to work.
WRITING: For writing, we want to focus on composition. This means plenty of creative writing assignments, opportunities for storytelling and from time-to-time an assignment that requires a written defense of some position. Our goal is to make these assignments personal for the kids so they can get vested in them. For the six year old, I want him to start working on formulating stories and writing out main ideas, but the crux of his presentation is more likely to be in drawings than words.
LANGUAGE ARTS (or as we used to call it ENGLISH): I want the kids to learn about parts of speech and sentence structures. To that end, we will focus on one part of speech each week and learn all the different variations thereof. Can you say transitive verbs? Yea!!! By the end of the summer, I am really hoping that we can get into diagramming sentences. Despite the constant barrage of comments from my lovely wife, I still hold that this was one of the best things we ever did in English class. At six, if Nathan can learn the basic parts of speech, I think he’ll be way ahead of the game.
READING: Rather than do numerous reading assignments, I think what we are going to do is pick one longer book and build a series a assignments around it including a traditional written book report as well as some more creative outlets.
SOCIAL STUDIES/HISTORY: I haven’t figured this one out yet, so if you have any ideas…let me know. I may just have the kids pick a historical time and place and write a long story from a first person perspective.
Anyhow, that’s where we’re going to start. We’re already in the middle of assignment #1 which I will share in a later post. I hope you enjoy keeping up on my 1: evil plan to ruin Jacob’s summer or 2: wonderful plan to have fun with Nathan and Lyndsey!
Have a great summer!