I don't know about your area, but around here the Back-to-School frenzy has already started. The newspaper is full of ideas for "what to do" with your kids while you are waiting for school to start. There are also suggestions for getting your child back into "school" mode. Parents and teachers worry about students getting back into a "normal" sleeping routine and fret over summer brain leakage. One parent in the article talked about how she had gathered her children's school clothes and summer assignments together to prepare for the start of school.
Wait a minute...Summer assignments? I thought one of the joys of summer vacation was the lack of homework? Sad but true, I've heard this from parents at the library. Some schools assigned four summer reading book reports. And just to make certain kids are well rounded from the experience, the schools specified two reports on works of fiction, one on a biography, one on a work of non-fiction.
I shake my head over it all.
How I loved summer! I spent most of it wandering around our backyard. I remember lounging in the hammock reading "The Wind in the Willows," not because someone told me to, but because I wanted to. I watched TV. Sometimes I played with other kids, but not usually. Other kids complicated my quiet world and most of the time with my two older siblings usually ended in fights or tears or both. I preferred sitting with our chickens and in later years, our pigeons. I set up my plastic animals and used my Matchbox cars to play safari. I would peel the bark away from sticks to use as toys. I collected morning glory seeds and pretended they were coffee beans. I had unlimited time to draw. Most of the time I simply moved dreamily about the yard making up stories in my head. I'm sure it looked like I was bored, but I wasn't. The things I did and learned during the summer always stayed with me.
It makes me wonder: Why are we surprised children forget so much school learning over the summer? Schools try to cram a myriad of information into kids during the school year with the main goal of a passing grade on a test. For what purpose? To move up to the next grade and do it again? How is that incentive? I never got the hang of school math when I was little because, to me, it was all endless numbers on a page. In summer I built a dollhouse (geometry) and learned how to make miniatures to scale. I didn't consider it math, and so I decided I was terrible at math. For me, history was wars and dates in school. In summer, it was trips to places like Colonial Williamsburg or the Cloisters. I didn't consider this history, so I decided I was terrible at history.
I'm grateful I had the opportunity to homeschool/unschool my kids. I'm glad I gave them the room to be creative and spend their days like I spent summer. Learning should not be an "old grind". Learning should be endless days of summer--thinking, doing, exploring the world around you and within you.