Monday, June 14, 2010

What teachers want

I know, I usually write to you all from the mama perspective, but I'm also a teacher.  Here in Canada most of the kids will be out of school at the end of next week (or the week after depending on your province).  I know my American friends have their kids home for summer vacation already.   Your child has made great strides over the past school year.  Just think about what they knew this time last year and what they know now.  I look at my own son who learned to read.  I think about the information he has shared with me about all sorts of topics.  So how do we keep them on a roll during this break and still let them enjoy the break?
Here are some things I've suggested to parents of my students in the past:

1.  Read! - Most libraries have a summer reading program for kids.  The formats are usually quite similar. The kids pick a goal of how many books they think they will read throughout the summer.  As they work towards their goal there are check in points and little prizes along the way.  The libraries also have free programs running for all age groups that range from crafts to science experiments to story times.  Check out what your library is offering this summer.  (hint - to keep your own child interested make their goal realistic and choose books that meet their interests and reading level)

2. Keep a Summer Journal - What better way to preserve childhood summer memories than to write down the important stuff.  This could be a simple notebook that your child writes in a few times a week, or, it could become a more elaborate scrapbook where they add pictures and keepsakes.

3.  Explore your city together - Just wait for it, 2 weeks into their break inevitably you will hear the words, "I'm bored!" come out of your child's mouth.  Of course they are (even with the 101 toys and games that are in the house).  They are longing for something new and interesting.  So find something to do.  You could hit up: beaches, lakes, parks, farms, picnic areas, city streets, museums, ethnic food stores, zoos, hiking trails...
You could try your hand at:  kite flying, soccer, fishing, canoeing, berry picking, orienteering, cooking, rock climbing...
There is always something to do.  Find a city guide, a tourist map and see what's going on where you live.

4.  Don't over program your kids!  - Sure they need things to do, but they also need a break.  They have worked hard this past year.  Put them in a day camp, or summer soccer sure.  But don't put them into day camp, summer soccer, t-ball, dance club, summer drama and swimming lessons.  It's too much.  Let them be kids.  Let them play and know the joy of an endless summer day riding their bikes and eating orange juice pops.

5.  That being said...if your child's teacher has recommended a summer learning program for your child, put them into it.  They usually say so for good reason, especially if your child has started to 'click' when it comes to a particular area of learning.  They don't want the summer to undo what's been done.

Most of all, have fun together.  If you can, take some time off to be with your kids.  You don't have to have a big, elaborate vacation (although that's fun too).  Kids really do enjoy family time (as much as it hurts your 13 year old to admit it) and they will remember it fondly later.

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