So they think they’ve outnumbered me, eh? They THINK they can team up and wear me down, huh?
Well my kids soon learned that mommy has another side to her. They found out that I am more than the muffins I bake in the oven. I am so much more than the lady who clacks and taps and types on the computer on end! Mommy Summer School started Monday in my house and after a few scuffles with a 4-year-old, a 9-year-old, 10-year-old and 6-year old, I got them started with some lessons to keep their brains refreshed for the summer.
And at first my kids thought it was a joke. (Just like people tend to think David Banner is a joke just before he turns green and busts out into a big green ball of bad-ass.)
But my lunchtime, my kids had been schooled on the fact that my plans for them to attend school at home is REAL. So I put on my teacher hat and got busy teaching each of them lessons to get them geared up for the fall. Now I’m not a grinch, I won’t take their whole summer away. They do get the month of July to chill. And we do have yet another Disney vacation coming up in July as well as a visit to Philly this summer. Creating scholars doesn’t happen by chance, so I’m taking an active role to teach them lessons that will give them an edge during the year. Besides, I love this. I live for this. And it’s days like this when I miss being a classroom teacher and putting my Master’s degree in Education to work!
Milan – She’s my 7-year-old who marches to the beat of her own drum. Milan takes her time doing whatever she wants which means she not always quick with her responses. She’s never hurried which sometimes drives me batty. So for Milan, working on StarFall.com is perfect. Milan can pace herself, chose lessons that are fun and she can work on some skills that she’s lacking. Most importantly, she can take her time and there are plenty of chances to do do-overs. Milan loves to sing and there are lots of funny songs on Starfall that Milan enjoys and sings along. I sat with Milan and realized that her subtraction skills are still weak, so today she will focus more on subtraction. Milan also needs to work on her writing skills, making sure she writes neater and uses her punctuation appropriately. At this age, the majority of time will be spent ensuring that her reading skills are improved upon and her writing and basic math skills are solid. Another great website is http://www.mrcpl.org/literacy/lessons/sight/index.html I also have workbooks that her school sent home and plenty of books for her to read over the summer. For reading Milan goes to MyOn.com. This website is phenomenal! It’s like having your own personal reading teacher. I’ll explain how I used this site below with my older kids.
Jojo – He’s four and will be five in August. For him, it’s all about beginning reading skills. My main focus is sight words and phonics. Most kids enter Kindergarten not knowing how to read. And that’s fine if your child does. That’s the norm. But as a former teacher, I know how much help it is for a child to already have had interactions with language and literacy BEFORE walking through the kindergarten doors. And during Open House at his school, I visited the kindergarten class Jojo will go to and realized that kindergarten is more like First Grade these days. They expect kids to be able to read easy reader books, type on a computer – YES TYPE sentences and do basic math skills. It’s kinda rigorous now. And I applied for Jojo to be accepted into the school Dual-Language program, the ONLY Dual Language program at an elementary school in the state of Georgia! It’s a very sort-after program and he will learn English half of the day and be IMMERSED in Spanish the other half of the day. So with that said I need him to have a solid grasp of the English language which means that we’ve started our word wall and he watches Leap Frog’s letter factory which is a phenomenal video for grasping phonics.
I also have him play games like word match game on the computer on this website http://www.mrcpl.org/literacy/lessons/sight/index.html. Now this is important. Print out the Dolch 220 sight word list, if you haven’t already, and use that list to build your child’s word wall. This is the list that every child should know by the end of Kindergarten. My goal is for Jojo to know all 220 words by August. That’s ambitious since teachers expect it to take the whole school year for kids to learn the whole list. But I’ve got nothing but time on my hands. You don’t have to be fancy making the list. I printed some cards and I wrote the words on index cards. I use tape and put them on the wall in my bedroom. I go over them everyday with Jojo and reinforce phonics skills with the leapfrog DVD. Again the LeapFrog Letter factory is one of THE best phonics DVDs out there. Get it. So as your child learns the words on the wall, play a game and have him/her move the words to make a sentence. Jojo loves doing this because he feels good that he’s actually reading. Even if it’s a 3-word sentence. Easy activities. Nothing hard needed to accomplish huge goals.
Mikaela is my 9 year old and she’s going to the 4th grade. And Kaitlin is my 10 year-old and she’s going to the 5th grade. We’re using books they received from school and some others I have in my repertoire to help them build a firm grammar foundation.
A lot of people have asked what activities I’m doing, but a lot of them are textbook based for my older girls. As a former 3rd and 4th grade teacher I have accumulated lots of books books over the years. But I did purchase a 5th grade curriculum book from Barnes & Noble. It is a big thick comprehensive text book that has activities in all subject areas. With Language Arts, it’s important to get your kids grounded in the grammar rules. Nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs and then they need to gain a deeper understanding with Appositives, prepositional phrases I could go on and on and on! There is a lot to learn when it comes to grammar. When they truly gain an understanding of grammar they become expert writers. And to complement this lesson, my girls learn new vocabulary words as if they are studying for the National Spelling Bee. And they have to use the words throughout the week by incorporating them into our regular conversation. I use the book Word Smart by The Princeton Review and it is GREAT! It also promises that your child will score high on the SAT, GRE etc. I won’t know that for a good 6 or 7 years, but I’ll wait!
I know what you’re thinking – my poor girls have a former teacher as a mom! Well I look at it like this: if I keep this up, in 7 years I won’t have to pay a dime for college tuition when Kaitlin goes to college and then Mikaela goes 12 months after her because they will get full scholarships! So I have to do what I need to do! $30,000 a year for tuition times TWO KIDS– AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT! LOL!
Now that site I told you about MyOn.com is wonderful! The site has all kinds of books in every subject area. For instance, my children can get on the site and have the book narrator read it to them or they can use the hush feature and read the book themselves. At the end of each book they take a test. But even more what I love is that as I am doing grammar lessons on nouns, pronouns, adjectives etc, I found a book on that site that goes into a deeper understanding of the grammar rules! And it’s truly like having a teacher teach you each step of the way. Put it like this, the site is SO awesome I could truly just have my kids work on that site all summer and be happy with the results! But there’s nothing like me picking a lesson apart and breaking it down so they have a greater understanding of it. Now I believe you can register for MyOn but my kids got access credentials through their school so I’m not sure of the cost. And just know I have to push my kids when it comes to grammar. Kaitlin made a PERFECT score in Language Arts on the state’s CRCT test that was supposed to be hard. A PERFECT SCORE. I have no choice but to up the ante because this kid is killing it!
As for math, my husband is the math guru. He’s teaching Mikaela and Kaitlin long division. My goal is for them to have been introduced to basic geometry and algebra by the end of summer. They know their multiplication tables and know them if you ask them a basic multiplication question like what’s 12x’s 8? They can rattle off answers quickly. It’s important to get your kids grounded in multiplication before moving on to other math. And teach them songs to remember them.
There are numerous ways to approach other areas like social studies and science and so forth. But the major thing is to keep your kids reading AND to have sit down discussions with them. I bought Life’s magazine 100 most influential people a few months ago. Do you know how deep of a discussion I can have with my kids about the featured influencers like Oprah, Gandi, Abraham Lincoln and Steve Jobs?
I can go on and on about this Mommy Summer School but I hope you have some takeaways and visit some of those sites to help your kids rev up their brains during the summer!
Do you have any summer activity suggestions?