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Learning Through Summer

June 14, 2011

It was a pleasant July day in South Dakota. The sun was not too warm, and the breeze was not too cool. I remember looking up at the giant carved faces of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and the others. I remember being intensely curious as to how the massive heads could have been carved so smoothly from Mount Rushmore.

Before the trip had started, my mother had read my siblings and me biographies of these fine American gentlemen. We knew all about Abraham Lincoln’s cabin and Franklin Roosevelt’s bear. We all had our own opinion on the story of Washington’s cherry tree and whether it was truth or fiction.

“Look at this,” my mother lead the way to a sign explaining the explosive techniques they used to carve the mountain. “It says here,” she said, pointing to another sign about Thomas Jefferson. My mother had said this trip was just for fun, but with many homeschooling mothers during summer vacation, she also had the hidden agenda of education.

Another fond memory I have from my childhood is the time we went out to the pond to catch frogs. We came home with a frog in a jar, and showed it to my mom. By the time we had named it; my mother had looked up whatever she could find about the frog’s species, habitat, and eating habits. Then she encouraged us to do the same, and we were able to look after the frog for a week before letting it go back into the pond.

Summer can be an excellent time for learning. Without the rigid schedule of the school year, it’s easier to use the common, every day things as lessons. Anything from gardening, to camping, to family vacation could be an opportunity to teach students about things that they normally wouldn’t have the chance to learn.

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