Summer is usually thought of as lazy days around the pool, amusement parks, hanging out with friends, and hopefully having enough time to get bored, and I’m not talking about just for the kids, I’m talking about for the parents, too. Unfortunately, after the crazy year we’ve had, if you’re a parent, you’re probably feeling like you should spend the summer tutoring your child so they can catch up with all of the education they lost over the past school year. You’re picturing temper tantrums and resentment as your child sits at the kitchen table with worksheets in front of them. They dig in their heels, refusing to do the few items you’ve asked them to do, and you’ve dug in your heels too, insisting they won’t leave the table until they do.
Teaching and learning doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some ways you can help your child, without the tears, without the tantrums, and you may both actually learn something and enjoy yourself.
The first thing you need to do is adjust your attitude from “My child needs to be able to…” to “What is my child really passionate about?” As a teacher, my number one goal for all of my students was to find their passion and help them become self-motivated participants in the learning process. When a child is working on something they’re passionate about, they’re automatically motivated to put forth effort. As the parent/teacher, your job is to find a way to insert the skills. Here are some examples. Keep in mind they only work if they’re things your child wants to do, not things you want to do. Always provide choice and be sure there’s an “open” choice where they can give you their ideas. You may be surprised. Their idea may be better than anything you could have come up with.
These are just a few examples, and I’m sure you and your child can come up with dozens more. For all of the projects, the child should write a plan and create a timeline. They should also decide if they want to do their project alone, with family, or with friends. Depending on your child’s age, some projects work best if they do it with a friend or group of friends, especially if the end product is a video or podcast, which brings me to the next piece of the puzzle.
Children respond best when there’s a finished product they can show their friends, their grandparents, or their aunts and uncles. In addition, summing up what they learned cements the knowledge. Regardless of what project your child chooses, they need to create a presentation of their findings, their knowledge, or even just their experience. This can be done in a variety of ways. Here are a few examples and links to sites they can use to create their project and/or upload their project. In most cases, you’ll need to make an account, but I did my best to provide free options.
If your child would like to have their project featured on my blog, please send a link of the project or attach it to an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If your child’s project is one of the top 10 received, I’ll send a permission slip to you to allow me to post the project on my blog at FamilyAandEducation.blogger.com. Feel free to use that email to ask me questions or suggest topics for upcoming columns.
Janice Abernethy is a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, and retired school teacher. She has a bachelor’s in Elementary and Special Education and a master’s in Instructional Media. You can learn more about Janice by going to JAbernethy.com