Years ago, one of my children attended a charter school where she received lots of special education. After the first year there, summer was a welcome relief from the early morning drive to school and I was thrilled to have my baby home all day!
At the end of the second year of school, I met with her teachers. They wanted my daughter to attend summer school so that the gains made during the school year would not be lost. I mentioned that my daughter had not attended summer school the previous year and did just fine. One of the teachers looked through the child’s records and saw that test scores indicated that the child had made progress over the previous summer. A wave of disbelief washed through the room. Then one of the teachers mentioned my background as an educator and everyone assumed I had taught my daughter all summer. At that point, I decided to keep quiet and not reveal that our summer had been completely aimless and recreational.
Besides my own daughter’s gains over a lazy summer, many of my math students have made similar gains. Over and over again I’ve seen students struggle with math concepts in the spring, avoid math all summer, and suddenly grasp concepts in the fall. I think of summer as a time to digest learning. All year we fill our students’ brains. In the summer their brains sort, store, and process the information they’ve had poured into them for months.
Some years I have looked at June, July, and August as a perfect chance to get some academic work done. My children were behind, so I thought they should catch up. Now I’m older, and maybe wiser. For some students, sometimes, summer is a good time for formal learning, but I believe summer can be put to better use.
Summer is a great time for field trips, travel, and lazy afternoons at the swimming pool. Long conversations, reading to each other, and good movies can all be enjoyed any time. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, and home organization can be explored at a leisurely pace during the long days of summer. I think I’ve just written my family’s plan for the summer!