Post Mortem: Meany Mommy’s Summer Learning Plan (Part II)

Looking back at my list, I can’t help but laugh at my optimism and foolish determination to cram knowledge into my poor daughter’s head. During summer, no less. But hey! I deserve credit for trying.

One thing’s for certain. Summer is tougher than the school year to keep her focused and motivated. I’d like to blame it on the heat, but I think all the physical activities take a toll as well.

Things that have helped:

Workbooks. Before the last day of school, one of her teachers gave her a math workbook (Lakeshore Learning Math Journal) as a parting gift. Although it was designed so that one would do one problem a day and ultimately finish a spread in a week, I had her do the week’s problems in a day—sometimes even two weeks’ worth if the problems seemed easy. [Come on—what reformed Tiger Mom would accept one math problem a day?!]

I had gotten her the Summerbridge Workbook, which encompasses math, phonics, reading, grammar, and even some physical fitness. The problems were pretty easy for the most part (good for confidence building), and she didn’t mind doing it as much as the harder math problems in Lakeshore Learning. She also used her some of her analytical skills when working on the reading comprehension problems, which is better than nothing.

Even though the Princess complained about having to do the workbooks each day, I could see that she was secretly proud of what she’d accomplished as she flipped back through the pages that she’d already completed. I only had her work on them in June and July.

Reading Program. Our local library sponsored a great reading incentive program for the kids. For each week in June and July, the kids had a goal to read for at least one hour or 4 books. Once they brought in the list of books they’ve read, they got a prize (e.g., free meal at local hamburger place, free dessert, stuffed animal, book).

The Princess enjoyed getting the little prizes. Although reading still isn’t her thing, one of these days I hope to get her to enjoy reading as much as I do. It is my DREAM.

Early Rising. One of the best discoveries I made—the Princess is a morning person. (Unfortunately I am the opposite.)

On good days, I was able to get her to practice an hour of piano, do her Summerbridge Workbook and Lakeshore Learning Math Journal, and maybe even read a book before taking her to camp. What a sense of accomplishment we both got when everything was completed before 8:45 a.m.!

I found that it was a major struggle trying to get her to do all these things after camp. She had a harder time concentrating and was less motivated to do anything. With this newfound knowledge, I’ve scheduled her speech and piano lessons before school.

What needs to get done (next time):

Keeping motivated. The challenge now is trying to get her to be self-motivated. It’s just a matter of my figuring out a good incentive program. For instance, she knows to wash her hands once she comes home without my having to remind her because a piece of dairy-free chocolate awaits.

For next summer, I’ve decided that if she wants to watch TV/videos or play games, she needs to make sure the Core Four are done: 1) piano practice; 2) Summerbridge Workbook; 3) Lakeshore Learning Math Workbook; 4) book reading. No work, no play.

Writing practice. I was only able to get her to write in her journal once this summer. It was about one of the storms that we’d had that frightened her. It scared the daylights out of me, too. Never thought I’d see the day when I’d be on the real-life set of Twister with careening cars, flying tree limbs, debris, and garbage cans.

Come to think of it, she also wrote something else on her own. Something about how we shouldn’t wake the Princess up by watching our movies too loudly, and also about how we shouldn’t disturb her while she’s trying to do her art in her room.

Anyway, I’d still like her to practice writing. I’ll have to open an email account so she can practice writing to friends/relatives. She might like that.

Focusing on areas that she needs extra attention. She knows how to do the rote math. The trick is getting her to be more confidant in solving story problems. Then there’s the concentration issue and getting her to accept that she has no choice but to try to learn what’s presented to her at the time it’s presented. She can’t wait to be “in the mood” because the teacher isn’t going to wait.

Maintaining a positive attitude. As I practice piano with her and try to help her with her math, I notice a common problem. She is impatient and is easily discouraged when she can’t do something on the first try. In fact, at times she is so determined not to be able to do something, that my job is to prove to her (and keep proving to her) that she can do it after focusing her energies, breaking things into small parts, and just doing it over and over.

Oh, the drama and tears! if they weren’t so draining, I’d be laughing. But I think she knows that I’m just as stubborn as she is and that if she hopes to move on to something more fun, she needs to do as I say. I have a reputation to maintain as “Meany Mommy” after all.


Update (10/1/11): According to her teachers, the Princess is one of the top Math students in her class. The math work we did over the summer has definitely paid off.


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