Friday, April 19, 2013

Does Learning Take a Vacation?

summer dreaming
Summer break is just around the corner. So naturally I'm starting to picture days of sun, relaxation, traveling, and learning. I guess learning may not be the first thing people think of when planning their summers, but learning is such a natural part of our daily lives now it seems ridiculous to imagine a break from it.

I watched a video this week about a high school that is experimenting with new ways to allow students to direct their own learning. As part of the plan, each student chooses an independent learning project that they spend a large portion of a semester exploring. That made me start thinking about ways to put my boys more in charge of their own learning. So I'm going to try an experiment this summer. Instead of having them do school work one day a week, like I have done in the past, I asked them to choose something they want to learn on their own throughout their summer break. We haven't set the choices in stone yet, but for now here's what they are leaning towards.


EM recently started showing more of an interest in computer programming. Earlier this week, in an offhand way, my husband handed this Hello, Android book to him and said, "Here's a book for you to read," not really thinking he would. EM picked it up and started right away. He quickly decided that he should write some apps and make loads of money. We told him that was a good long-term goal, but he might need to start out a little more basic. As the week went on, his interest seemed to be holding. I suggested that this might be something he'd like to work on this summer. He seemed positive about that possibility.

louder than they look
JT has been spending more time drumming. This is working out well for my husband who has been waiting to form his own version of The Partridge Family for years. I would like to see JT commit to learning some songs that he might think of as beyond his ability for his project. I am not sure if we will sign him up for formal lessons or just continue allowing him to learn on his own. I think it would be nice if he took lessons, but I also know that in the past that hasn't been the best way to motivate this particular child.

I don't want to turn these projects into something that feels too much like work. I want this to be the thing they do when they are tempted to claim boredom. I plan to help them set a few tangible goals before we reach the last day of formal schooling so they have a little direction, but nothing too tedious. After all, summer is not supposed to be about about deadlines and checklists but about relaxing with no schedule ...

and learning just for the fun of it.

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