A friend just emailed me that she had enjoyed a nice winter school holiday but was dreading the whole morning rush back to school. I don’t experience that particular phenomenon, although I did wonder how it would go for my kids and me, getting back in school mode after our long break. We took three weeks vacation over Christmas – the first week with no school requirements, and the second two with only minimal reading I’ll explain later.
Here’s how we re-assimilated…
We arrive back home from our trip on Monday morning at 7:30, after a night’s flight. I am way too exhausted, and so are the kids, to do any homework today, so I give them the day off, in exchange for their promise to push everything by a day – meaning schoolwork on Saturday.
Tuesday, I’m still strung out from the lack of sleep and jet-lag or whatever, but I am sitting at my computer first thing in the morning and Biwa waltzes in and starts his Latin. “Mom, please print out the assignment sheet, so I can cross things off as I go.”
Then he goes right into math, and after that, spelling. Finally, he says, “Mom, let’s get the grammar done now.” Who am I to say “no” to that? Frankly, I’ll admit that I am way too tired to enforce some sort of work ethic today, but if he’s asking me to do grammar, I’m gonna (by golly) do grammar with him! He finishes off with history. I’ve decided to start him on a different, more comprehensive history curriculum, but, unfortunately, I quickly discover I don’t have all the materials, so I get over to the computer and order them.
Because of Biwa’s enthusiasm, the other children follow suit, so in answer to whether it is difficult to get back to schoolwork after an extended holiday, I give a resounding (and somewhat surprised,) “No!” Wednesday, we are getting back into the swing of things, and by the end of the week, Saturday, we finish our week’s worth of work.
The only challenge is that next week, we leave again on Wednesday! The kids will be skiing, so I don’t want to burden them with too much schoolwork while we are there. It’s no fun struggling to learn when you are tired. Review is better for this trip, so I’ve decided bring other stuff instead of 5-day-Shurley. Plus, that approach lightens my load. We’ll take our math books instead, and lots of reading – the most important element in schooling!
I will say that although we didn’t do ‘formal’ school over our long vacation, I had Biwa reading over an hour each day. We also explored the local historical buildings.
For Shane, whose reading is challenged, I took my teaching book for reading and we did two lessons each day, only about 30-45 minutes. That actually provided a nice break from the whole doing-nothing-because-you’re-on-vacation routine. I also did a few pages in the same book – earlier chapters – with Tavie each day. My goal was that by the end of our trip, Shane would be reading.
I proudly report it worked! When we got back, I took out a level 2 “I can read” book, (a book he never could have attempted before my accelerated reading program,) and he read it, haltingly. When it comes to reading, Shane has an issue with confidence. Remember, he excels in math, so I guess it’s a bit of a trade-off. But now, he’s totally reading! Another wonderful result is that Tavie is now also reading, three-letter-words only, with lots of help. But her approach is so fearless, she’ll say anything – just take a stab at the word, even a bold-faced guess – whereas Shane is intimidated into silence by the fear of being wrong, it seems. No worries. A little cajoling and a bit of encouragement, and he’ll read better and better.
Today, after a long bit of concentration on my cereal box, he asked me, “Mom, does that say ‘peanut butter granola’ on that box?” He was right!