This summer, as in previous summers, I’ve decided to incorporate some Summer Bridge, math, and reading aloud for the Princess. I know with day camp and her other extracurriculars (tennis, swimming, Korean dance, skating, piano, speech) she is tired, but I believe that it’s extremely important to keep her brain limber and ready for the Fall. A little of something is better than nothing.
Every day she whines and argues with me, but I manage to get her to sit at the table and focus for a time to complete the two pages of Summer Bridge Activities (which includes anything from reading comprehension, grammar/syntax, spelling, math, writing, science, social studies depending on the day), two pages from the Math Skills workbook, two pages of Math Connection. Then comes the 20–30 minutes of reading a book of her choice aloud. Five days out of the week, I also get her to practice 30 minutes to 1 hour of piano.
I’m not a heartless taskmaster. She still has plenty of free time to watch movies/shows on Netflix, play games on her iPod, hang out with friends, work on her journal, play outside, even do nothing if she chooses.
What I’ve learned:
1) It seems as though her school stopped teaching around beginning/middle May; that’s about the last time I remember helping with her homework. Her basic math skills—addition, subtraction, multiplication, division—were awfully rusty. I’d started the workbooks on the first day of summer vacation. (Didn’t want my Meany Mommy membership revoked.) It’s now late July and I’m finally feeling as though she’s recalling her math facts with some fluency.
I can only imagine what the beginning of the school year brings for teachers as they try to get their students whipped back into shape. I’m thinking I need to start the workbooks sooner—like when she doesn’t get any homework.
2) The hardest part is getting her to start. Once she’s accepted that there’s no negotiation, she’s cooperative and manages to complete the tasks that I’ve set for her. I’m amazed at the progress she’s made—how much quicker she is with finishing her pages now than she was at the beginning of summer.
3) To keep her motivated, I remind her of her potential prize(s)—a new Pottery Barn backpack that she really wants; a mani/pedi spa day; special prize money from Grandma/Grandpa that she can choose to spend however she likes; a super-special playdate with her friend of choice; Boss-for-a-Day, a day which she can order her father and me to do whatever she wants (within reason).
The funny thing is, I see her look of satisfaction when she places a star sticker at the bottom of her Summer Bridge. She also likes to flip toward the end of the book which has a certificate. It’s heartening to see that she’s not caught up with the monetary bribes. She gets a sense of accomplishment by completing her tasks and being able to give herself a star at the end.
Originally I had other activities planned in addition to the workbooks, such as learning cursive, touch typing, writing/composition, special interest topics (e.g., other countries/cultures, Bigfoot/Sasquatch, scrapbooking, the human body, useful phrases in other languages)—but I figured that I can incorporate them when she finishes a workbook. Perhaps I might even save those activities for when she comes up to me and says, “Mommy, I’m bored.”
So far she hasn’t.