Back in June, I had every intention of writing a “what we’ll be doing on our summer vacation” post. As usual life happened, it’s now mid-August, and Back-to-School promotions are in full swing.
As a student/freelancer/newly hired occasional teacher (whoo-hoo!) I’ve been privileged to be at home with the boys the past few summers, and we usually take it pretty easy. I don’t buy into summer learning loss much, as I happen to believe learning takes many forms, that something easily forgotten was probably never learned in the first place, and that there is nothing wrong with a little unstructured downtime for children.
That said, this summer has probably been our most structured yet, with two weeks of day camp for the boys followed by two weeks of daily swimming lessons. In between we’ve played at home and at the park, tried rollerblading and skateboarding, made popsicles, had playdates, visited friends and family, gone swimming, taken part in some library programs, read a lot of books, had family game nights and movie nights, and most recently, spent a week at my husband’s father’s cottage. All in all, a pretty awesome vacation. Sure, I’ll admit I’d like it if BB#1 had read more French books, and if BB#2 had practiced his printing. And I know not every family can or chooses to take this approach, but right now, it’s one that works for us and for the kids we have.
And yet, there’s been plenty of learning. Last year BB#1 attempted water skiing, but gave up pretty quickly. He was determined to try again this year, but by the time he was in the (cold) water and his dad had everything set up and ready to go, he’d gotten very anxious and refused to try. We know from experience that for this child to be successful, he has to be ready—and when he’s ready, there’s no stopping him. So we didn’t pressure him, fully expecting it would be another year before he’d give it another shot. But the next morning, he surprised us by asking to go out again. And he got up on the first try, and didn’t fall once! Do I care if he becomes an expert water skier? No. Do I want him to take advantage of opportunities to try new things when he has the chance, and to stick to it even when it’s challenging? Absolutely.
And he’s not the only one learning the value of trying, trying again. When BB#1 mastered a particularly difficult set of monkey bars recently, BB#2 was determined to do it too—and he did. Over and over. Despite several falls. After his first swimming lesson, he declared he was not going back—he’s a fearless swimmer and loves the water, but is finding his current level difficult. But he stuck it out (at our insistence…) and made it though the session without missing a lesson or throwing another fit. He didn’t pass the level, but he’s stronger, more confident, and had the best back crawl in the class. I couldn’t be prouder of these boys.
They’ve been active, but perhaps more importantly, they’ve been persistent. They’ve set goals, motivated themselves to keep going, learned from mistakes, and succeeded. And really, isn’t that what learning—and life–is all about?