Summer Learning to Boost Your Child’s Confidence
I’ve learned from my children that:
- They like to do what they are good at (even if it’s their own perception and not reality).
- And the corollary, they avoid things they think are not good at (even if it’s their own perception and not reality).
- The more they do something, the better they get at it.
- The better they get at it, the more they want to do it. (nice circular logic!)
- Proficiency in math and other academic subjects is not a genetic gift but is a result of practice, just like sports or music. Your child may have a natural gift or inclination, but he or she who practices more will be the most proficient over the long run. (ancient Chinese proverb!)
- Bribery works to change a pattern of behavior. It will not work long term but it can get a child over the hump to try something new.
The upshot? Use the unscheduled time this summer to strengthen your child’s weaknesses whether it’s social, academic, or creative. What does that mean exactly? I’ll illustrate with my kids:
Out of my three kids, my youngest (going into Kindergarten) loves math and is tracking to about a grade and a half ahead according to Singapore Math Workbooks (1A, 1B). He always wants to do the math so often that I actually have to hide his workbook. (No sense in getting too far ahead because then he’ll be bored in school.) I want him to spend more time reading. He loves to be read too, so I use reading time as snuggle time and try to get him to read a word here or there. Dialog books like Chicken Butt by Erica S. Perl or You Read to Me and I’ll Read to You are perfect because he always want to read a particular part. My goal for him this summer is to pass the deep end swimming test. Improved literacy will be a plus.
My middle kid (going into 3rd grade) is great at everything. Just ask her and she’ll tell you. It’s true too. She’s very goal-oriented so if she sets a goal I just need to get out of the way and she’ll torture herself to try to reach it. Daily Math Problems Workbook for Grade 3 completed by end of this summer? No problem. She wants to go and go and go. She’s reasonably good at math, but it’s not because she loves math. She just wants to finish the book, now, now, NOW! My summer goal for her? I just want her to relax a little because she’s very intense. She picked the least amount of summer camp for herself so she has time to go to yoga with me. She says it makes her feel calm. That is a good thing.
My oldest (going into 5th grade) is very creative and I’ve finally gotten behind the eight balls and signed her up for real art camp, not the arts and crafts kind. It’s a little further away than I would have liked given that I have three different camps simultaneously with three identical drop-off times, but there is always the life-saving carpool! She lacks confidence in math, though she’s actually not bad at it. Getting her to work on math is like pulling teeth. We finally picked her curriculum last week (Life of Fred Fractions, Daily Word Problems Grade 5, or Singapore Math 4A, 4B, 5A, 5B as needed?). She’ll try to finish Daily Word Problems by the end of the fall she will need A LOT of coaxing. UPDATE: That translated into $10 bribes … she finished three weeks of Daily Word Problems which is 15 pretty complicated problems and she gets to choose a store to spend $10. When the book is completed, she gets a big prize. The other two books went by the wayside. It is summer after all!
This is how I sneak in the Math Time:
Timing is everything with my oldest and I know math can’t compete with playdates, daylight, or TV time. So, I will sneak in math first thing in the morning on a lazy weekend when her siblings are asleep or occupied or at bedtime on a night where the next day is a free day. I’ll let her stay up an extra half hour to snuggle up with to do math.
She’s a artist so we play a doodle game from The Shape Game for every correct word problem. It works like this: I make a doodle and then she turns the doodle into something. She loves this.
The bribe is important also. This summer we are going with lots of little bribes rather than one big one. Last summer’s bribe was to finish your workbook, get an iPod Touch. This summer will be frequent trips to gift shops for $10 items or less for every milestone hit. That works for me! (And the beauty of bribery is that it’s less expensive than a tutor).
Do you have an area that your child needs strengthening? I’d love to hear from you. And I’m sure readers will have good advice to share on what worked for them. Please comment!
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