Children will love learning if you teach them in lazy time
IN THE SUMMER months, children have historically looked forward to less study time and more time for play. They relished the thought that school would be over and lazy days were coming. After a stressful practice run, our Department of Education is realizing that the shortening of summer break needs to be reconsidered. High school students scramble for needed outside classes to fulfill college requirements. Many younger students need tutoring because they are behind in reading, and our youngest ones require free fun time for kindergarten readiness. There's too much to do and little time to do it.
Parents can improve things by planning more "lazy" time with children, although unchanged work schedules raise the question, "How?" Well, creativity develops when sand castles are a project with Dad and son. It's one of the games called experience that may develop into real plans later, when the man builds a spectacular, glistening high rise.
Thinking of education as "directed experience" is so valuable, especially when we help search for books at the library, connected to that experience. The library habit now includes computers and is still a place of quiet and order, so needed in these stressful times. It's joy when explored by a parent and child seeking escape from stop-and-go traffic. An hour at the library may mean a quiet ride home when highways are less crowded.
A PORTABLE desk in the car, full of markers and paper, can bring the beloved drawing experience into caption writing and discussion. A few minutes of art appreciation and good language exchange is an invaluable exercise. A little help with a descriptive caption transfers oral to written language in a personal way. Reading and writing well become part of the joy when both child and parent share the experience. Academic skills blossom from tiny, planted seeds in little bits of time. Repetition is what study is all about and it is well-received by the very young.
When a child speaks and is listened to, self-esteem comes naturally. When we are available to children, welcoming questions and giving answers, we provide the ingredients that grow into good communication. Singing songs together, playing spelling games, discovering basic words or letters that our first-grader does not remember and posting them in funny places all over the house creates fun hide-and-seek. The child will beam and carry his knowledge to school.
Any way we look at it, play is a child's work. Drill is fun when a child is 3 and 4, but it isn't in the third grade when a student is supposed to read to learn instead of struggling to learn to read and write. A dry-erase board in the kitchen can be a fabulous tutor for a little older child. Giving your child a reason to read your messages and respond in writing is a "lazy" way to give lessons: "I'm feeling a lot of love for you this morning. How are you feeling? I plan to take us to the water park on Saturday. What do you think of that? Please write and tell me."
WHEN I was teaching remedial classes at Waianae Elementary School, I had to really be on my feet to manage quick class changes. With severe problems relating to asthma, allergies and other conditions, my students needed a specialized learning environment for the game of reading. For good art and better and better caption writing, the tools were all I provided in an atmosphere of good music and support that set a wave of self-expression in motion. As I showed respect for what they created, the children gained self-respect. They eagerly read each other's finished, captioned stories.
The lazy days of summer need re-invention to match the shrinking "fun time" all children love. Cleaning a garage or carport can be fun when the goal is to create a gallery for ohana to visit over the Labor Day weekend. A small price is attached to each piece. Aunties and Grandmas are invited to buy some lemonade and shop for the "fine art."
There's a lot to do during the summer. If your child is entering preschool, he or she will be expected to do some things that used to take place in kindergarten. Your kindergarten child will be expected to do a lot of things that we used to reserve for first grade. For lazy help with what they need, please see my book, "Light in the Darkness of Reading Failure" or contact me for free suggestions that will help you get closer to your child in the shared language experience.
Janet Powell is a clinical reading therapist who has worked with the Hawaii Department of Education. Reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org