Loving The Summer Learning
This week, I got an email from a popular educational store. The heading of the email was, “Prevent Summer Learning Loss”.
It’s like they read my mind. I have been worried about learning loss lately and how to navigate this new post-COVID world that is emerging. As an example, Splash Pads are opening up soon. I am worried about keeping my kids 6 feet apart from other kids. I am fretting over, if I do take them to a Splash Pad, the message I am sending by saying “Remember, we have to keep our distance from other kids”, when all the previous summers my message has been, “Sure! Go say “hi” to those kids”, and they absolutely learned. It’s to the point where my kids are comfortable talking to the cashier at the grocery store, the clerk at the post office and it takes all my willpower to stand there while they tell them just one more thing, because I am not as comfortable chatting to strangers. When something like that crops up, it reminds me that there are a lot of things that I want for my kids, but I might not be comfortable while they achieve it and I think that is an ongoing challenge of unschooling, being uncomfortable while my comfort zones are being stretched. Or being comfortable with being uncomfortable.
My kids wave to everyone we pass on the street and are excited when they see other kids out. I am worried about the effect of “keep our distance” is having and how much fear messages like that can impart, even unwillingly. My conclusion to these thoughts was that this isn’t going to be the summer we go to the Splash Pads.
Last summer, we took a road trip to Quebec and in preparation for that trip, I looked up maps and some history of the province and went over some french and my kids happily followed along. We aren’t visiting Quebec this year, have my kids forgotten everything we learned about in relation to and during that trip? The idea hadn’t really crossed my mind. I feel that my kids learn things when they need to and like all humans, retain what they have found to be useful, inspiring or what they have emotionally attached to.
This article from the Washington Post examines if “summer learning loss” is real. The email I got, directing me to buy various products certainly sold the theory.
The email, left me feeling soured. We are still in the pandemic, people are still stressed, parents are worried about if they are adequately providing enough learning resources for their children and teaching their children in an at-home-environment and here comes the avalanche of “be worried about summer learning loss”.
The Kids Are Alright
How pleasant would it be, if the script was flipped and there were emails of reassurance from companies with strong marketing power, assuring parents that the kids will be alright. It would be revolutionary if the messages sent out were supportive and encouraging, featuring articles and stats on natural learning, how learning happens and what kids can learn through life and a break from that school environment. Perhaps a headline like, “Surprising Skills Your Kids Are Learning From A Day At The Beach”, or “Educational Resources to Help Plan That Summer Road Trip” and why not throw in a “Parents, It’s Going to Be Alright, Products to Help You Capture Memories This Summer”. I wish the educational store showed more empathy for their target audience and consideration for the challenges of the day.
Savouring The Sweetness
One of the discoveries my kids made last year was noticing that the tree near our parking lot was a mulberry tree, filled with ripe purple sweet berries. Earlier this week, they asked to check on the tree and we delighted in seeing how ripe the berries were and eating them. This led to a series of questions about who planted the tree? How long had it been there? How long does it take the tree to grow the fruit? Are there other trees in our area that we can pick berries from? That last question led me to contact our local foraging group.
On a walk recently, my kids found caterpillars and ladybugs and we talked to the youngest about what happens when we squish ladybugs and why do you think there are so many caterpillars in this one area? What brought the ladybugs? Can we make them climb on a fallen leaf? The summer brings bugs and opportunities to learn all about the creepy crawlies.
My kids are only these ages, this summer, once. I plan to drink it all in and savour the moments. I plan to keep my sanity on hot days and days I’m meeting deadlines by employing Netflix and Plants vs. Zombies.
I am going to take so many pictures and write down so many things. I am going to delight with them when they see fireflies and bats diving from the sky. I am going to be patient with the sticky faces and the ice cream covered hands because summer is a capsule of time in their childhoods and it is fleeting.