My sons go squirrelly in summer, if they don't keep up a base level of learning. They discovered this about themselves about 3 years ago - after a particularly tragic week of wailing and teeth gnashing, my oldest turned to me and said, "Mommy, I think I'm like this because my brain isn't learning." Agreed. Had I come out and said this, I would have been met with ever-escalating denial. But personal realisation? Pure psychological gold.
Every summer since, I give them a week (early on) where there is nothing - NOTHING - planned. No chores, no camps, no playdates, no reading, no schoolwork, nada. After about two days of running wild and free, it begins...."Mom, he's bugging me"; "Mommy, I have no books" (HA to that); "Mom, can we do more tech?" (this is about 6 hours in, for kids who get a ration of no more than 45 daily); "Mommy, come play with me" (um, no? see that pile? mommy has work); "Mom, there's nothing to doooooooo" (insert stomping and whining); "Mommy, he won't do what I want to do"; "Mommy, we're boooorrrrreeeeddddd." Meanwhile, I'm biding my time (and trying not to drink), while they run the slack out on the rope.
By the end of the week, they're miserable. Surprisingly, I'm not - not after the first few years where the pattern emerged and I decided I could choose - go nuts or get sneaky. If you know me, you know I chose option b) 'get sneaky'.
Continuing in the vein of 'why do you think you feel like this?' self-reflection, I pose them the question....and they've come to recognise by this point that all of it is symptomatic of....drumroll please....'brains turning to mush and leaking out ears'. This is my actual diagnostic term that I use with them (and have since they were toddlers - happily, they were never traumatised by the somewhat zombie-esque imagery).
So, I inform them that 'school will start' next week. Now, 'summer school' in this joint is a gradual and ephemeral beast. This week, for their daily work, they've had 8 equations (which they do until they receive 100% - word to the wise, it's way quicker to get it right the first time ;-), a half-page of writing, group reading (this week is 'Treasure Island), some physical skill (this week, it's swimming), and some arts pursuit (this week, it's reading Shakespeare's tragedies (don't freak - these are the little kid versions!) and discussing what constitutes a tragedy and tragic hero. And yes, I AM that big a nerd. The point is, it's just enough to a) give the accountability and b) give them new ideas for Playmobilia and Legonia, their alternate play universes. For real.
That, plus I'm less likely to have a big transition when the new school year starts - less 'shock and awe' and more 'mildly startle and intrigue'. I like that.
Hello! My name is Donna, and Raconteur is my Studio. Words are my passion - especially beautiful, powerful words, beautifully and powerfully shared. I never planned to be a Spoken Arts instructor, but I was lucky enough to have fallen into the work 23+ years ago - and I have never really looked back.