Homeschooling over the summer
June 30, 2009 4 Comments
As it turns out, we didn’t meet every deadline with school work this year. A tiny percentage of it was due to my disorganization; the majority of the reason we’re behind, though, is that it took DD about six months out of the school year to catch up with kids her age. She had a speech impediment that really slowed her down, even in math, because when she couldn’t say the words or read them, she couldn’t really grasp the concept behind the word, either. We spent a lot of time skimming over important information to focus on the foundation work over and over, simply because she wasn’t getting it. That’s the wonderful thing about home schooling – you go at your child’s pace, the child isn’t forced to go along with the pace of the classroom.
We could have chosen to skip “summer school” and just made up the rest of the work at the beginning of 2nd grade, but I wasn’t willing to do that, for two reasons. One is that I want her to have a fresh start at the beginning of the year – all new books and all new classes. I want it to feel like she’s starting something new, not just continuing the drudgery of last year. Remember on the first day of school, how exciting it was to get your brand new text books and work books? That’s part of the thrill that makes the ending of summer just a tiny bit bearable, and I didn’t want her to miss that. But the main reason was that in just the last two months of school she really hit her stride. It wasn’t a fight to get her to do school work anymore; she was enjoying her quiet reading time for the first time ever; she was answering more questions right than wrong and gaining confidence in leaps and bounds. I didn’t want to put a stop to that and lose the progress she’d made. I didn’t want to crush the spark of love for learning that she was finally feeling.
So we are, in our own way, doing home school summer school. (Try saying that threetimesfast, lol.) Since we don’t have meetings with the teacher at the end of the month, there aren’t any real deadlines that are imposed on us, which takes a fair amount of pressure off me. We have been able to spend more time than ever doing fun projects that revolve around school work.
I have spent hours reading next years textbooks and making bulletin boards, work sheets and projects to go along with each unit. While she’s doing her school work I’m going mine, lol.
But the atmosphere is certainly a lot more relaxed, which works so much better for us.
And the one tip I just discovered tonight is the main reason for this blog.
We have been working on filling in her Math Mini Office (which I will hopefully be videoing tomorrow so you can see it firsthand) and she’s loving each new thing we put in it. She wants to play with it, since she helped decide what should be in there, and she watched and helped with every step of the process. So tonight I let her quiz me, the only rule was that the answer to any problem she asked had to be found in the Math Mini Office. She had a blast! I gave her a pointer so she could feel like a real teacher, and she was really careful to praise me after every answer, which was adorable (and is something I work really hard at, so I was glad to see the effort paying off). After the quiz, and after showing her how to use the mini office, I gave her a two page assignment and left her to do it on her own.
At first she looked at me with deer-in-the-headlight eyes. She didn’t want to have to do it by herself. I reminded her that she wasn’t alone, that she had her mini office to refer to if she got stuck, and that calmed her down a little. After two problems she looked up at me and frowned. “Why is this so fun? Math’s never been FUN!”
And there you have it, the main reason the mini offices are successful. They give kids a way to help themselves, and lets them feel accomplished. Right now she’s sitting on the floor doing math problems happily, and every time she finishes one, she throws her fists in the air and yells something encouraging (it varies between “I’m awesome” and “This is so fun” and “Tada!”) which is such a huge change from last years tears and fits!
So that’s what our summer school has been so far – lap books, mini offices and cheers. It’s pretty great. 🙂