Here are a few things we "accidentally" did this summer to encourage their recent hump in learning:
1. We took some great week long breaks this summer and just played - with Lego's and blocks and read books and played outside (when it wasn't over 100!). Not that we don't normally, but this summer we had huge gaps of time to just do "nothing." The boys became rather bored and were forced to create their own fun - with blankets and pillows and friends next door. The time the boys spent "playing" actually opened their minds to retain more information and they became excited about learning. Drew specifically became interested in the "how's" of life. At 4-5 everything was "why," then he progressed to asking us "when" and learned about months and weeks and the continuous cycle of time. Just this past month I've been noticing everything is "How!"
"Momma, how does the dryer work?"
"How does the Cheetah run so fast"
"How did God create the world in only 6 days?"
"How does my letter to Simera get to her in Africa."
2. At my husband's prompting, I asked the boys what they wanted to learn about and have been working through various projects tailored to their desires - Cheetah's, the Earth, Bugs, Frogs - all things they are interested in right now. All those little changes made a huge impact on the first few weeks of "relaxed" schooling at home. We've not been adhering to rigid schedules or turning down play dates so we can do school work, we're just fitting learning into our lives. Such a fun way to learn in this place we call life.
3. I purchased a great program called Time4Learning - which is tailored to my right brained child. It is an online phonics program that is self paced and fun! It has up to 3 grade level's available at any time so there are so many options when he gets bored with one topic. Drew is loving this way of learning, he has completed the entire science curriculum and is half way through reading/phonics. There is also a language arts section which we're slowly working through as well. I purchased this program the beginning of July to change things up a bit and have a month of something new. Little did I know that this was going to make our learning much more relaxed and fun! Now 6 weeks later we've decided to keep it in the budget. Drew has blossomed, the program has given him great confidence and within 3 weeks Drew went from barely reading 1-2 sentences, to reading an entire 10-12 page book with multiple sentences per page. I can't believe it - seriously like night and day. Gabe spends about 15 minutes a day on the Kindergarten section learning about: over under, sights and sounds of letters, how books are written, rhyming, etc. Gabe and Drew both beg to play it and just one 30 minute session teaches all the phonics they need for each day - easy and so much fun!
4. I bought some "special" markers and colored pencils and paint - only for art time this year. These supplies are special and only for our lessons! Who would have thought that some fun markers (skinny ones) and 50 different colored pencils and some tempera paint with cool looking paint brushes would get my kids excited about art? My boys were the ones so not interested and now I can't stop them from playing with play dough and drawing tractors? Odd.... but true.
So the last few week we've been inching into a relaxed school schedule with phonics, reading, math, drawing, and bible. I'm a little amazed at how much learning we naturally have on a given day.
As for little miss Abby - we've been playing tea and cleaning up all her messes! Abby loves to blow out diapers and take all the Rubbermaid out of her drawer and empty all her toys onto the floor. She is also especially fond of getting into the boy's Lego creations. Abby also loves to help and imitate her brothers, today when I was handing the boys clean laundry to take upstairs, she waddled over and put out her hands to take clothes up to her room too. She is never one to be left out!