About this iReport
  • Approved for CNN

  • Click to view ashleymhill's profile
    Posted April 10, 2014 by
    Birmingham, Alabama
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Advice from home-schoolers

    Educating Your Children During SUmmer: A Homeschooling Mom's Perspective


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     ashleymhill home-schools her two daughters during the school year, and always looks for opportunities to reinforce what they have learned during the summer months, such as engaging them in service projects. She and her daughters volunteer with local ministries in their hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, as well as other service organizations. "It is our job as parents to teach our children the things they need to know to be responsible adults," she said. "Children are curious by nature, and parents should use the time they have with them to teach and lead by example. Summer is a great time for extended learning."
    - Verybecoming, CNN iReport producer

    A long school year will soon be coming to a close. While kids are predictably excited, many parents are left wondering how to keep their children engaged in learning over the summer. As a homeschooling mom, I am often asked how parents can keep their children plugged into learning, while at the same time giving kids a break from the pressures of school.

    School isn’t easy. Children today are under more pressure to perform academically than at any time in history. Mountains of testing and homework promise to deliver academically superlative kids, but children often emerge from the school year burned out and hating school. My best advice to parents just beginning their summer – allow kids some time and space to decompress from the pressure of school. Take a break from the busy pace and allow kids time to play outside with friends, swim at the neighborhood pool, and have sleep-overs. This approach might not look like a traditional education, but maintaining a slower pace allows kids to be kids, which is one of the primary way they learn life skills like effective communication, creativity, and problem-solving.

    Sometimes as parents, we think learning only happens if kids are in a classroom or have their noses stuck in a workbook. But learning happens all day every day as children explore the world and their place in it. When parents think outside the box of traditional educational methods, they allow children to learn through play, adventure, living life beside their parents, and experiencing new things. A trip to the grocery store becomes a lesson in math as they learn to shop for the best bargain, a lesson in science as they learn how to determine whether fruit is ripe, and a lesson in hospitality as they plan the menu for a sleep-over. Reading a fairy tale with your child allows them to visit other worlds and expand their imagination. A visit to the hair salon teaches them how to communicate with adults and how to use polite manners. All of these are necessary life skills that aren’t necessarily learned from a textbook, and the slow pace of summer provides rich teaching time in these areas.

    When parents want to create more intentional, purposeful educational opportunities for their children, the two ways I find to be most effective are travel and service projects. When children travel, especially to cultures different that what they grow up in, their views of the world change. They see that the way they live isn’t the only right way. They experience new ideas that expand their way of thinking. They learn to celebrate differences people’s difference for adding richness to life.

    Service projects can have similar effects on children. Seeing people in need softens children’s hearts to the world around them. They learn that not everyone is as blessed as they are. Serving others teaches children to see other people as fellow human beings, each with their own story of struggle and triumph. It gives kids a sense of responsibility to care for each other.

    Summer can be a wonderful time of learning and growing for children. Even though it might not look like a traditional education, parents can play an active role in continuing their children's learning, even during the off months.
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