Thursday, May 24, 2018

Summer slide

This is evidently my week for being a little irritated at my fellow homeschoolers. For the non-homeschoolers among you, my apologies. I'm sure I'll be back to myself soon. So it seems along with posts telling me why I need to go to my local homeschool convention, I'm also seeing posts asking, with rather alarmist tones, how I was going to stop my students from experiencing the dreaded... summer slide.

Talk about writing things just to generate traffic, and a misuse of terms and ideas to boot.

First, for those who don't know, the summer slide is the term for students who lose academic skills over the course of the summer. The misuse of terms and ideas comes with what the summer slide actually is. It is mainly aimed at low income students. Those students whose parents need to work and cannot be home, and who cannot afford the various summer enrichment opportunities that so many other children are able to participate in. For a child unsupervised for the summer months and who live in areas where it is not safe to play outside, screens are often the default activity. Not actively thinking and exploring and playing and interacting with people is not good for anyone's intellectual development.

For most homeschooling families, and the vast majority of upper middle class children as well, the summer slide is not a thing. Waving the term about to create alarm in parents is more than a little irresponsible. (Unless of course, you're throwing the term about in order to sell your summer enrichment program, then it's just mercenary... and a little irresponsible.)

Let's talk about what the summer slide isn't. It is not that week or two of children getting used to doing formal academics again. Sure, math facts may be a little rusty, but in my experience, after a bit, they come back to mind. They were never lost, just sleeping. All people are like this. Anything we don't use for a couple of months is a little bit of work to get back into shape, but it doesn't take much effort to get the skills back. It is surely nothing to panic about.

More often than not, I have discovered over a summer break... a summer spent playing outside gaining physical skills, exploring, resting, observing, learning to fill ones time, spending time with family... is that after the week of reentry is over, academic abilities and understanding is sharper. Things make more sense and are more easily understood. Maturation has taken place and new abilities blossom. There is a freshness to learning and greater curiosity. Rest is never a bad thing, though it has become rather a concept that has taken a negative turn, especially when it comes to our children.

It is a lie that we must keep our children at the academic grindstone all year 'round or they will become school failures. Of all people, homeschoolers, whom I hope would have developed a somewhat broader idea of what education is and what learning looks like, would understand that the summer slide is not something they need to concern themselves with, and certainly do not need to instill a fear of in others.

So, in answer to the question, what I am going to do to stop the summer slide? Nothing. Not one thing. I'm going to let my children run and play outside, watch things grow in the garden, play with the chickens and ducks, hike in the woods, read stories together, visit interesting places, answer their questions and learn things together that they are interested in, and enjoy their company. Pretty much what we do every day of the year. We may set the textbooks aside, but we do not stop exploring and being curious about our world.
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P.'s Go Fund Me page continues to gradually grow. Thank you! She has a online meeting about choosing what academic classes she will be taking. We are continuing with all the requirements as if she will be able to do this. Your help will make it possible.

Story of P.'s plans

Phoebe Curry Go Fund Me

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