When working with students to avoid the “summer slide,” I try and make “summer school” feel more like “summer camp.” Through fun themes such as “Phineas and Ferb” we work on reading, writing, math, science, social studies … We work on planning and presenting… We work on team work. It’s school and learning at its finest, but if you look inside our classrooms you won’t see kids sitting at desks.
Mi Families (“my families”) offers one-on-one, small group and large group educational programs – for all ages – year round. But, no matter the time of year or space we’re studying in – we make learning fun! Summer is the perfect season to focus on fun, yet still learn needed skills. Many needed skills can’t be taught in a classroom. The time needed to discover self-interests and achieve personal goals can’t always be accomplished in a school building. Lessons for self-help and character builders are best taught in one’s home and out in the “real world.”
A parent recently asked me what was meant by teaching “character.” “Character” or “virtues” are defined as the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual. Lessons may include understanding words that many kids (and many adults) can’t easily define, much less spell. Ask your kids (and yourself) – What do the following words mean? Prudence, fortitude, liberality, magnificence, magnanimity, temperance … What about perseverance, integrity, cooperation, citizenship…?
Mi Families encourages the teaching of moral development, believing that those lessons matter the most, impacting students beyond their general education. Sadly, recent survey shows that most kids aren’t being taught that such “polite” rules are important to follow and maybe that’s because adults in their lives aren’t modeling those rules. Yet the same survey showed that adults wish such virtues were taught. So ask yourself – What virtues do you find the most important for your child to learn? How do you teach those skills? Summer isn’t over – you still have time to teach these skills, and discover kids individual needs / talents (see our last article). I challenge you to add “character building” to their lesson plan – and your own. In our home we’re working on respect and responsibility.
I believe that respect and responsibility are the building blocks for strong character. Through respecting others you show integrity, love, humility… By learning responsibility you show discernment, diligence, temperance, courage… Courage is a big one. Kids learn self-help skills and confidence through being courageous (especially kids with special needs) so a rule during our “summer school” is that “it’s ok to not know, but it’s not okay to not try,” and “no one is perfect, that’s why pencils have erasers!” It’s easy to give up before we even try something new and it’s really hard to start again if we stop, which is why we school year-round. Much research has been done about the “summer slide” and learning loss that occurs when we stop school for summer break. As a teacher I saw proof and as a parent I saw proof. So we never stop learning, but that doesn’t mean we have formal lessons each day – we learn mostly from life lessons, through trial and error, through researching and reading, through hands on fun and through play. Sometimes our classroom isn’t even in a room – it’s outside!
Summer is the perfect time to learn through outdoor education. Make time to teach respect and responsibility through adventures, explorations, investigations… through open ended play! When we learn to have fun outside we learn to respect / love nature and therefore take care of it. We become responsible for our own property, our community and the world. We begin to feel connected to all life, all people. We learn that the most important lessons are not taught by sitting at a desk near “same age peers,” but rather learning to interact with everyone and all things in a way that betters ourselves and the world we’ll leave behind.
After reading student evaluations following our last class it was evident that Mi Families programs are on the right track. EVERY ONE of the students said that they will remember the lessons, because of the hands on activities we taught through – and they will remember the friends they made, because of the team building exercises. The age gaps, genders, special needs … even language barriers between local children and students from other countries who didn’t speak our language … none of those issues divided our group or stopped the learning process. Modeling through actions & relationships = teaching lessons of responsibility and respect. With a new mission Mi Families is preparing our future generation to “share time and ideas.” We are “Reaching out with Resources” for the families we work with today, as well as the families they’ll work with tomorrow.
You can find some of our resources online – by contacting us or clicking on highlighted words thru this page. Help us continue to provide resources by “subscribing” to our articles near the top right of this page. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube … Showing support on our social media pages help us offer more programs and reach-out further with more resources. Thank you.