Sunday, June 22, 2008

Summer Vacation?

As the local schools get out for summer vacation, we find ourselves continuing on our learning journey without regard to clock or calendar. With Maria Montessori, Alfie Kohn, and James Paul Gee as my guides, I continue to seek out authentic learning opportunities for my children.

I continue to be amazed by what my children learn without the traditional "skill and kill" methods. I told my 10yo how to add decimals one time, and he can now add decimals flawlessly. Amazingly, he did not have to fill out pages and pages of decimal addition problems to acquire this skill. My 7yo recently started talking to me about scythes, only he pronounced it with a hard "c" and a soft "th" because that is the way he read it. I was pleased with this little pronunciation error because it showed me that my little language challenged boy is trying to read increasingly difficult words. Amazingly, this was only able to happen when I backed off and stopped asking him to read things.

ZooCamp was a huge hit with all of the children. My 7yo hated the first day, but after he got over the initial shock of being thrown into a group of complete strangers with a familiar face nowhere to be seen, he enjoyed the rest of his week. He was quite excited about petting a penguin. My 10yo was able to go behind the scenes in the gorilla house, which made me quite envious. My three year old thought camp was the best thing that ever happened to her, and she can't understand why other establishments don't have camp for three year olds.

We have more learning opportunities on the horizon. Both boys have art camp in the next few weeks, and we will be going to Sea World soon. This, of course, is in addition to the myriad other learning opportunities that happen on a daily basis when the kids say, "Mom, how do you ...?" or "What is ...?" or "Can you help me....?" And there are always those things they figure out on their own without fanfare. I usually don't discover those until weeks later when I realize they are now doing something they couldn't do before.