Saturday, July 3, 2010

Go Outside & Play...

Now that it's summer children are everywhere. They are digging out tide pools at the beach; riding their bikes; frequenting 7-11 to buy those carefully planned Slurpee drinks - a layer of cherry, coconut, mango-lime. Oh freedom!  Beautiful unencumbered freedom that comes in with a warm breeze,  the gentle sway of green leaves, and the surge of white foamy surf. It's an essential time; it's a right of passage these long and winding days of summer devoted to discovery and good old fashioned fun.

People may say, don't you worry about their skills regressing over the summer?  Well in a word yes...
but summer vacation offers a myriad of opportunities to think critically for the beneift of a good time. Digging that tide pool, finding a quicker route by bike, creating the perfect sip of fosty goodness then pretending that it's the last bit of food you'll ever have because your stranded on a tropical island.  As a teacher summer offers me that time for reflection and going through my materials to make changes for Septmeber. To read and create and renew.

I grew up in a household where everyone read - it wasn't a chore, it was just the way it was.
Now I see my own children - the new children of summer. They are doing many of the same things I did. My son is keeping a small journal - a tiny marble note book. A secret stash - so he can write down a few sentences to capture his daily adventures. He is reading about hobbits and wizards - a book some would say is too difficult for a seven year old... but it peaked his interest and he is reading it with his dad.   I see it as more of a towline ushering in that next level that we teachers are so focused on (it's nice to know Richard Allington agrees with me on this one). Be a kid, write your video
game cheat sheets to share with your friends, read about magic, and play Dodge Ball.

Think back to an event that is like a watermark for all others there was a lesson there. Don't we learn the most when we are having some emotional response?  Research tells us that memory is greatly enhanced when lived experiences have an emotional tag. The amygdala plays a critical role in learning so what does that mean?  It's up to us to create sacred spaces for learning to occur.  If we try to plan everything is smacks of insincerity.  Sometimes there has to be learning that is germane to the beach, park, or backyard.  What makes it count is the time we spend talking  with our children rather than talking at them. 

Sometimes solutions are simple, let them be, but be involved.  Check out this description of Balanced Literacy.  Think about it, isn't this really what we are providing for children if we are involved?  School is not the four walls and a desk.  It is the world - and we are their guides leading them to discovery.  So have some fun with a child you love today.  Have some experiences and read and write along the way.  You'll both be better for it come September.