Sardonic Sistah Says

Observations… Ruminations… Ponderances… & Rants from Another Perspective

Summer Learning Had Me A Blast

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089What are your children doing this summer? Working at an amusement park? Playing Red Rover until the street lights come on? Sitting on the couch playing endless hours of Call of Duty while on Tumblr or Facebook.

Or maybe you have a big family trip to take.

Or, like a lot of black families, to save money on daycare you are sending your children down south or up north to spend time with family.

Whatever plans you have for your children this summer, make sure that learning is a part of it.

In a few weeks articles will start popping up about “summer learning loss“.  The numbers vary, but it’s estimated that children lose a certain amount of knowledge during the summer break.  It falls under the maxim if you don’t use it, you lose it.

Instead, lets look at it a different way.

In our society, we treat summer education/enrichment as a punishment instead of a privilege.  Children who  to summer school are children who have struggled all year.  When told they must attend summer school to pass to the next grade come fall they are often made to feel lesser than other students and, of course, denied the summer break that other students.

This attitude towards learning helps to reinforce that being educated is something you must endure.  It’s not a journey or something fun to pursue.  Learning is a job and who likes a job.

So, at some schools, the good student isn’t immune to this disposition.  They just learn how to manage it better, get their work done and then are done with it.  So the summer is their long-awaited break where they won’t pick up a book or even do suggested workbook packages their teacher has assigned for them.

In the end, the child who did well in school that year isn’t doing much better if they don’t learn over the summer.

When my daughter was in grade school I realized this and I struggled to find summer enrichment programs for her.  We lived in the inner city in the 90s.  And many times it was hit and miss finding programs that was close to home.  I didnt’ have a car then, either.  We bussed it everywhere.  Sometimes we walked and it was hot.  But my persistence and resourcefulness has been a benefit to her.  Sometimes I learned about programs that wasn’t in her age range but I filed the information away and when I ran across someone who was looking for that program I was able to give them information.

So, what I have learned, I want to pass along to you.

Here are some ways to keep your child on their toes this summer.

1)  Talk to your child’s teacher or the school office.  Sometimes teachers are overwhelmed and they forget to pass along information for summer learning.  Sometimes your child might lose the paper, forget the paper, or throw paper away.  If you talk to the teacher he/she can be a resource of information that hasn’t been passed along to you.  Same for the school office.  They may not have dispensed the information to the teachers but they have been given information about local summer programs.  Ask them about it.

2) Check out the websites for local private/parochial schools or suburban schools.  Some private prep schools offer summer enrichment courses not just for their own students but for anyone who is willing to pay.  Ask them if they have scholarships available.

3) Colleges/Universities.  These are under utilized because many people think that it’s just for college age students or super geniuses, but they might offer different classes and programs for children and teenagers.  For teens, they might even earn college credit for some programs.  Again, don’t forget to ask if they offer scholarships or have programs that are free.

4) Local parks and museums.  You can find great science and art summer programs at your local parks and museums.  The summer my daughter was eight she took an astronomy class with the local park near our home and then an art class at the art museum.  Both classes were relatively cheap and on my limited income I was able to swing it.

5) Having fun isn’t hard if you got a library card.  Ok, I am partial to the library because I work there but it’s hard to beat not just for books but also for summer programs.  At my library we run a program called Brain Camp where each week children are introduced to new subjects. And best of all, it’s FREE!

6)  The book “Summer Program for Kids and Teenagers”.  If you are tired of having your child around the house then look for a current edition of the book I have above.  There are great programs in this book that you can send your child to.  Yeah, they are crazy expensive like Interlochen but a lot of them offer scholarships.  My favorite program is M.I.T.E.S. for budding young scientists.   And my apologies for not writing this article earlier because the deadline for a lot of the summer programs in the book was back in January/February but do what I do and file it away for next year.

If you think that I have forgotten a resource or if you know of one that is in your area please post it in the comments below.  And yes, your children will be irked by you for this and, if they are like my daughter, they will be outdone when you recruit the children of friends to also participate in the program.

And next time in “Urban Mama’s” I will discuss learning styles and what’s a mother to do?  Until then, keep learning.

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Written by rentec

1 May, 2013 at 1:52 am

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