Saturday, 13 August 2011

Over the summer

I sometimes get asked if we "do school" over the summer. The short answer is "yes". I find that it is not helpful to have children at home/round the house with "nothing to do" for too long, so we do have a structure to the summer "holidays".

Every year is different, but this year our schedule is something like this. We get up late (compared to during term time) and everyone has more free time. And we go to bed later.

The younger six do reading and writing until lunchtime; then they all go outside for an hour. After that, they are free to do whatever they want (within reason) until we start to get ready for supper in the evening.

Every week we have at least one outing or event to attend - we try to do things that we don't do during term time.  We also try to meet up with friends, and we still have our regular swimming and gymnastics lessons. (French, sailing and football lessons stop for the summer.)

The younger six children are competing in the Reading Challenge run by our local library (conveniently next door) so we are focussing on reading. One of the older children helps me by reading to or with the two youngest for an hour+ a day.  I also try to make sure that they do some writing each day, even if it is simply copy-work. Each child keeps a list of the books they have read, and I've promised them a monetary incentive depending on how many they get through. I vet their book choices, they may not read below their level simply to get through more books more quickly, nor are they allowed to choose books they've already read, or seen as movies (these are my rules, not the library's!)

The library has a good range of children's classics as well as children's versions of adult classics.  And it also has all the newer, trendy, "fantasy" type fiction books as well.  They had a popular children's author come to talk to the children about his work the other day, we really enjoyed listening to him, and it was interesting for the children to meet a real author.

Another older child is also helping me by typing up lists of who has done what over the year, which will be the basis of my annual education report. This helps me to pinpoint areas of weakness, and the children will sometimes work on a topic that has been neglected over the year, or practise something which they found difficult. For example, Annabelle (10) has to spend time each day working on  spelling, and couple of the others have workbooks that they hadn't finished.

As the children get older, I find I don't need to organise them so much (well, that does depend on the child, to be honest!), but instead need to discuss goals with them and let them find their own ways to get there. With younger children I find that organisation is *so* important if I am going to achieve anything.

So, over this summer we've had a loose sort of schedule involving mostly reading and writing, some catching up in other areas and outings we wouldn't otherwise do. And I take time reviewing what has been learned (or not) and planning for the coming year.

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