Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mommy Summer School

I've had loads of inquiries about summer school this year, so I'm setting out our schedule here. We have had a lot of camp this summer, first with 3 weeks of cerebral palsy camp for Alex and day camp for Izzy and then another week of lacrosse camp for both kids. During camp weeks, I don't worry about teaching anything. I just try to read with them at night. Now that camp is over and we have 4 straight weeks to be together, we have our summer school schedule worked out. This summer our theme is Greek Gods and Mythology. I purchased the student copy of Greek Gods through Calvert Education. Calvert is a private school in Baltimore that has a homeschool division. I find that my kids are ahead of their grade level by at least a year with the Calvert products, but you can give your kids an online test to see where they are. I jumped ahead to the 4th grade supplemental materials and purchased the Greek God curriculum. It's simple, clear and comes with fun pictures to color. During the first part of the summer, I read 2-3 stories aloud each day while the kids colored the gods from the stories. We discussed the stories and reviewed what we had read, talked about where we often see Greek Mythology (Harry Potter), and related some of the stories to our lives. Once we finished the book, we went back to review them and create our own gods. So, our Monday-Thursday goes: I. Greek Gods (our Greek Gods curriculum from Calvert supplemented with free videos, mostly from YouTube, about specific gods - on Mondays they design a poster about a favorite god, on Tuesdays they create a poster of a new god from their imagination, on Wednesday they are doing clay art where they make the gods out of clay and on Thursday, they finish up their projects and practice their presentations which they give on the weekend to their dad), II. Language Arts (various early reader books, rhyming books, poetry, etc--the kids read, write and draw about what they read, write in their journals, write down words they know or don't know, create their own poetry, etc), III. Math (from Singapore math, purchased online, mostly workbooks, or IXL online math with Kahn Academy to supplement) - then we take a big break to run, swim, etc. In the afternoon, we have a babysitter who is also a preschool teacher, who is teaching the last two lessons: IV. Values (straight from The Value Tree Summer School Series Volume I, which means they will cover 10 values this month, draw pictures and keep journals on their efforts to live a value-based life) and V. Art (mostly watercolors this summer). Fridays are called Science Fridays and they are all about math and science. I bought several science kits and we will work our way through these. Plus, we are listening to Brain On!, a free podcast for kids, about topics related to our science kits. I've adopted podcasts this summer and am in love with them! There are so many amazing podcasts out there. If your kids are older, and they love science, Science Fridays is awesome. I love listening to podcasts while running too! Great for entertaining kids in the car too, if you have long holiday drives. I love sharing Mommy School, so if you have questions, shoot me an email rather than a blog comment at: nickyschmidt@gmail.com.

The Value Tree Summer School Series

The Value Tree Summer School Series Volume I, which includes a textbook and journal, are now available on Amazon. Each of the 4-volume set teaches ten values, with easy lesson plans, fun activities and illustrative short stories to accompany each value. This series is appropriate for ages preschool through middle school. This series is designed for summer camp, summer school and homeschool parents--a must for summer education! Volume I is now available. As the other 3 volumes become available, I'll announce them here and on our website: www.currierbooks.com.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Perfect Tuesday Afternoon

I ran yesterday in a blazing sun for about two hours. My shirt was drenched, in that only in the summer kind of sweaty mess that you just can't replicate in cold weather, no matter how many layers you wear. I had recently spoken to my old manager, and we reminisced about our days in Tunisia, running with the Hash House Harriers over sand dunes, along the Sea with its dozen hues of blue, through gnarly woods and down footpaths I would never have traveled alone. We used to sweat there too. I reminded him of a time he was so drenched in sweat that I commented that if we all got thirsty we could just suck on his shirt. His teenage daughter, running with us, was disgusted. In those days, I ran for the pure feel of movement. I ran as a tourist, with an interest in the people and places you just couldn't reach by car. I ran to engage my colleagues, to stay in shape in case of an emergency (and there were plenty of those), and I ran because I couldn't live if I didn't run. Yesterday, I ran to wipe Saturday clean from my psyche. After about two hours, I felt I could stop. I finished up in time for lunch and to check on Alex who was back to camp, still blistered, but better. He was so hot and tired he could hardly answer my questions, and so I asked that he spend the rest of the day in an air conditioned room where he might focus on fine motor skills. I spent the afternoon working on my next book, an adaptation for our YMCA which is using The Value Tree in their summer camp. I glanced out the open window to see Izzy returning from her afternoon tennis lesson at camp. Her face was scarlet. When I rounded everyone up to go home, I knew there was only one solution to the heat, a swim. As soon as we pulled into our driveway, we changed into bathing suits, and raced out to the beach. The sand was on fire, but the water was icy cold. It was high tide, my favorite tide, because we can wade out for yards on sand without ever going in over our heads. We all went under as fast as we could, our lips stinging in the salt, but smiling. "I love your suit," Izzy commented on a skimpy black bikini I didn't often wear. "You look skinny." "Lookin' hot Mom!" Alex yelled from the waves. Alex, still wearing his sunglasses but no goggles, practiced freestyle for an hour. Izzy, having bounced and splashed until she was dizzy, rolled onto her side on a towel and shut her eyes. I stood apart and watched my children, blissfully content in the summer heat, perfectly happy at being 5 and 6, no older, no younger. There could not have been a more perfect Tuesday afternoon.