May 2017, Issue 10
“Summer Learning Changed My Life”
Summer learning had great significance in my own early years. Childhood was not easy for me. My family was poor and while my parents did their best, education was not a priority. It couldn’t be; keeping a roof over our heads and putting food on the table was always their main concern.
Summertime provided respite from these challenging circumstances. At the end of each school year, my bags were packed and I spent the weekends with my dear Aunt Mary. The wide Victorian staircase that led to her apartment is still in my memory.
One otherwise ordinary afternoon, I remember my aunt asking me to read aloud to her. As I stuttered and stumbled over each word, the gaps in my education surfaced. Although it was an excruciating experience for us both, it also proved to be life-altering.
Immediately, my determined aunt made it her mission to teach me how to read. Aunt Mary lovingly put me in her lap and we read together—for hours. We devoured piles of children’s books purchased from the neighborhood thrift stores and my love of reading was born.
Aunt Mary also taught me to play the piano and she gave me Lincoln Logs that I used to create whole worlds, each filled with dramatic story lines and characters. Baking angel food cakes in her tiny apartment’s kitchen is among my favorite memories.
My Aunt Mary was a skilled teacher. Intuitively, she infused our days with opportunities for learning, each one bundled up in love and care. There were neither drills nor stern announcements proclaiming it was time for lessons. Instead, she instilled a love of learning in me by modeling her own curiosity and love of books.
By high school, I’d become fond of preparing for summer by writing lists of all of the activities I wanted to explore and of the books that I would read. Summer provided freedom to learn whatever I wanted. I took full advantage of this time each year.
My love of learning followed me to college where I earned a Master’s degree in education. Years later, when it came time to send my own children to school, I decided to teach them at home instead. Our days spent homeschooling were full of fieldtrips, science kits, art and a good amount of travel. Our house was a mess, but we sure had fun!
Throughout the year, my family enjoyed our time learning together but summer was something extra special. Summer learning isn’t about specific academic expectations. Rather, it is no-pressure learning and it is during this special season that great things can happen.
For the rest of the story, please check out Rebecca’s newest book, The Summertime Survival Guide for Parents: How to Create a Summer of Wonder, Discovery and Fun!
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