Lynn Easton

Lynn Easton

STARTING YOUNG: Summer time and the learning is easy

Noooooo, my eight-year-old daughter screamed from the back seat.

I practically jump out of my driver-side window as we passed a nearby year-round school that happened to be in session during the month of July.

Seems she could not believe her eyes as children her own age were outside during their 15-minute summertime recess.

I explained the statistics and the science behind the idea that all-year schooling helps children retain knowledge and focus, that breaks spread out during the school year can be good for the brain and for the soul.

She would have none of it.

“But its summerrrrrr,” she wailed.

I continue to stick with my hypothesis that all-round year schooling is a valuable tool for parents, teachers and students, one important choice among many that fits some families perfectly well.

My two daughters never did warm up to this option. Instead, I must admit, they spent their summers in a structureless, formless routine of long sleep-ins and longer stretches during which they seemed to do a lot of nothing.

Somewhere in that chaos, though, I think they may have managed to create a kind of summer education of their own. At least that’s what I tell myself.

When you chase acrobatic amphibians like salamanders and frogs for long enough, you get to know a thing or two about physics, right?

When you turn in circles in the water spelling your name with your toes, you learn the alphabet in your very muscles and bones.

When you are so bored that you decide to make sculptures out of pop cans, invent a new language, or craft pottery out of creekside mud, you also create persistence and patience.

So, my kid was right, there’s plenty of learning children can do outside of the classroom in the summer – just don’t let them in on the secret.

Let me save you from some grief.

Whatever you do, don’t let them catch you trying to create a summer learning experience out of their empty space full of undisciplined sleep, unbrushed hair and uncontrolled play. They will smell your inner-teacher a mile away.

I know – I tried.

Before I gave up and let them run amock for most of the summer, I attempted to slip in a stealth lesson or two wherever possible.

But it didn’t last.

I made the mistake of suggesting that my six-year-old count her piles of oranges, apples and bananas, then add them together to find out how much money she should ask for while playing Store.

She turned to me with a side look of disdain.

“Mommy, that is math. And this … is summer,” she told me as she returned to concentrating on counting out her Monopoly money.

In that moment, I was permanently fired as parental summer teacher and began to watch them tutor themselves in every waking moment with a kind of kinetic fervor of play and exploration.

I was off the hook as their educational assistant and off to play hookey for the rest of the summer.

I highly recommend the break.

• Whether you want to create free playtime for kids or find some organized events for your children, check out the Ridge Meadows Early Childhood Development committee quarterly newsletter for summer activity ideas.

Lynn Easton writes for the Ridge Meadows Early Childhood Development committee.