Saturday, June 6, 2009

Continuing Learning Through the Summer Using Traditional Methods

This is a topic that came up when I was teaching and one I still get questions about. I know some parents feel formal learning should end when the last bell rings for the school year, so I’m not here to debate that issue. This entry is to address the issue of what are some of the reasons people want to continue learning with their kids and how best those goals can be met in the freedom of summer.

There are a variety of reasons why parents want to continue learning during the summer and many are very valid. We know some students do drop significantly during the summer months when skills are not reinforced and it takes a significant portion of the new school year to jump start learning. So retention is one valid reason to consider summer learning options. Another reason is that school curriculums have become narrowly focused and results driven leaving very little time for children who learn differently, or who have learning interests that are outside of the assigned curriculum for their age and grade level. Summer is a wonderful time for kids to explore their interests. A third reason is to address learners who learn with different learning styles. Children have a great opportunity during the summer to learn in very different ways traditional subjects, and learn the answer to that age old question, “When will I ever use this?”

The learning styles issue comes up in a variety of conversations. I have parents who want to know how to help their children learn basic math and reading skills because their schools use more modern techniques that their child isn’t mastering and want to “go back to basics” over the summer to introduce some traditional math methods to see if their child can learn from more traditional methods. For all parents looking to work with their children I generally tell them to research home schooling sites. Some of the most rich and varied ideas are already there.

You don’t need to recreate the wheel yourself. Another great set of resources that parents often don’t utilize are school websites. Websites have improved dramatically in certain districts and you can find all kinds of great links to informational sites, computer learning sites, etc. If your school’s site isn’t great, don’t be humble, go looking at other districts in the area and don’t hesitate to Google. In one of the early districts I worked in we had an incredible library services director. She could find you links and resources on any topic you were teaching. You can bet when I wasn’t working there any longer, that page was still bookmarked on my favorites list. For those who are worried I kept a secret password, don’t be, the information was on a public domain. Sadly even many people in her own district don't know to look. It is even more amazing that while people might envy better school districts, they don't look to see what they are offering free on their websites to anyone who looks. I suggest this to home schooling parents who are trying to locate websites on topics. You don’t have to send your kids to public schools to utilize the materials they are offering for free if the material is something you can and would use.

I plan on doing an entry at some point cataloging some of the sites I’ve collected from computer learning sites to curriculum sites, however that is still in the orginization stage.

One question I've been asked as summer approaches is where to get workbooks and basic supplies to do summer reviews. There are tons of websites you can go to shop. Around here many of the tradtional teacher stores have closed. So I would suggest researching your options.

However, one place I have come to use as a quick resource because they generally have what I need and there always seems to be stuff I’d use on sale is School Specialty. I’ve sent family, friends, colleagues, and home schoolers who are looking for inexpensive stuff there because it has a variety of materials at affordable prices. If you are looking for summer review materials, Barnes and Noble and many of the other places are going to charge you top dollar. I’m a bargain shopper by nature. However, it is your money and you are free to spend it as you like.

For those of you who might be interested the website is:

If you want to use a traditional approach with your child this summer to reinforce learning or maybe even push ahead, there are lots of resources available to your both in print and on the Internet. Don’t forget the obvious resources available to you at your library as well. I know our local library has dramatically increased their number of educational DVD’s. I’d never thought to encounter high school and college level math, science and other subjects offered as courses for free from the library and I found the materials to be high quality. I reviewed some of the college history courses and was impressed. If you think this is the summer to hit the books so to speak, starting by finding out what resources you have available and what best suit your child is a great goal. All too often we have the resources and then decide to make them fit the child. One of the great advantages of summer learning is the chance to make it personal and to make it fit.

No comments:

Post a Comment