Sunday, May 31, 2015

Szrama Summer School

Zoo with Daddy!
I tend to prefer a laid-back, "chilltastic" approach to schooling, especially in the little years when they so desperately want to learn EVERYTHING, but get tired so easily, and need lots of time to just play.  I also found as a teacher that so much is lost over the summer that I really think it "works" better to take more frequent shorter breaks rather than one huge long break-- or at least to keep some mind-stretching activities going even when "school" isn't in session.  So around here we do school year-round, but we never spend long days in school.  We go to the zoo and the museum, the library, the pool, the park, the backyard, Nina's creek, and to play with friends.  We listen to books on tape, we try dance, choir, gymnastics and art... it's all learning and it goes year-round.

In some ways summer is my favorite time of "schooling."  It's warm (ok fine-- HOT) enough for my favorite activities of creek-splashing, lake-jumping, beach-combing and plain old pool swimming.  We grow lots in our garden, we take trips to exciting places and we get more time with friends and family.  There are weddings and cookouts and all of that is great for learning!!  All of our weekly school-year commitments are over so we are free to stay home, or to leave for a week.  We use the summer to "catch back up" at our laid-back pace.

Our basic summer schedule is to spend the first hour each morning on "school."  I pull out more workbooks than we use in the school year (my kids think they are super fun since they hardly ever use em), and we just do a page each in math, phonics and reading/grammar.  Then I rotate subjects where I need to actually teach-- grammar, spelling, and math.  Over breakfast I read them a devotion from Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing and write in Eowyn's journal.  (Liam has a Kumon sticker workbook he LOVES or he cuts paper or he works on his Everything for Early Learning Preschool workbook.)

Reading happens quite naturally these days, yay!
Reading:  Eowyn's reading has taken off so I don't work on that directly anymore-- she chooses to read on her own whenever she gets the chance, so I keep a good supply of great books at or just above her reading level available from our library.  I use Best Books and The Read-Aloud Handbook for ideas.

Handwriting:  this is THE area where she really needs to focus right now.  Her spelling, grammar, reading and composition ability are quite advanced-- she is just held back by her freaking out about writing.  So, slowly but surely we are remedying that.  Just one page of handwriting each day, and slowly she is gaining confidence.  Lots of praise, lots of stickers, and plenty of working alongside her.

Spelling:  we really enjoy All About Spelling and would be done if I did more than one lesson/week.  I'm making it last through the summer though. :)  She enjoys it and so do I!

Math: We are going along with Saxon 1 and lots of workbook practice bc she enjoys it.

Grammar: First Language Lessons Grade 1-- we often do 2-3 grammar exercises at a time.  She loves memorizing the poems and the activities are fun.  I love how oral it is, so it really isn't dependent on ability to write! I think we'll be on track to start Grade 2 right as next school year begins.

Read-alouds: we are loving read-alouds... Mathilda, How to Train Your Dragon and various E. Nesbit books are on our list right now.  We have finished The Hobbit on audiobook and I read James and the Giant Peach aloud.  Liam still asks for "more Bilbo" every night but will condescend to The Tale of Despereaux.  We have started Rabbit Hill, and the kids are enjoying it more than I am.  I shall persevere and finish it.  Probably.

Exploring shaving cream plus water

Fine Motor/Sensory:
we are working our way through quite a list of sensory dough/goops.  These really do add to imaginative play as well as being good for them.  I hope to build a sandbox this summer for them too.  They get TONS of water play, and the legos, trains, cars, blocks, playmobils, barbies, and lincoln logs are good for little hands too... and cutting/pasting. They love that.  My floor does not...

Gross Motor: we joined the Y and I'm teaching the kids water safety and swimming and if they haven't grasped it by August we'll do lessons.  Both kids will take horseback lessons at a local stable for the month of June as we've done for the past 2 years.  Liam is VERY excited that he gets to ride this year too!

Special foci:
Music:  I just started a 6-week music class in my home.  8-10 little friends come over and we are exploring pitch, beat, rhythm, the idea of notation, music telling a story (Peter & the Wolf), and the orchestral instruments.  Super fun!!!  In August I hope to do another 4-week series using another classical music piece (probably Carnival of the Animals) and do more with notation.

Read-Alouds are such fun!
Road Trip!!
Geography:  I'm actually super-excited about this!!!  I'm taking the kids on a three-week road trip through Pittsburgh, Toronto, Chicago and Louisville, with stops in Charleston (WV) and Detroit.  We will use this as an excuse to reinforce state geography and also to enjoy museums and zoos all around the country.  I am getting to use the books my mom bought for that very purpose when we did our long road trips, and since they no longer print the little US State Sticker "Passports" we loved filling up, I found a printable version as well as printable stickers.  I saved some big old Atlases that are falling apart so E can help me map our route.  She is already very excited about her role as "navigator" who gets to tell us about each state, and I've promised we'll stop at a Welcome Center for each state we pass into so she can get her book stamped and we can look at cool stuff.  This trip, speed will NOT be the name of the game...

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