Summer School and Select Random Thoughts on Education of the Self

 “It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them.” ~Leo Buscaglia, aka Dr. Love, Author, Speaker, Professor of Special Education

I heard an advertisement in June that disturbed me. The ad was aimed at parents, and the gist of it follows. Don’t let your child fall behind. Children forget what they previously learned and lose ground through the summer months when the basic skills are not continually taught. It takes them a long time to catch up in September. So you must sign your children up for summer school, regular tutoring etc. etc.  The “marketing message” insinuated that you are doing a great disservice to your child/children if you do not sign them up for some sort of “schooling” during the summer. Really? It seemed to add more pressure, for parents and children, to stay regimented in order to learn, move forward and make it in this world. The ad made me sad, sad, sad.

Over time, our education system has taken on a very strict and structured nature. It is silly to get into why and how this happened but many things seem to get more structured over time–for better and worse.  Here is an analogy of what I see happening. Many people view children as stationary vessels that begin empty. One must continually pour in facts and information and check constantly to ensure that the vessel is filling according to plan. If you stop pouring stuff in, the vessel will spring a leak and you will have to work harder to refill and get it to the perceived proper level. The goal is to eventually have a complete full vessel that can stand sturdily on its own.

It is important to understand and move forward from this, or supplement an educational “System” that isn’t working well in honoring the individual child and their unique family. What can we do to serve our children so that they develop a Natural and Healthy Sense of Self as they are educated?  I don’t see Summer School for the sake of academics as necessary or a good thing, but I do see children in need of being stimulated in healthy ways.

Here is the analogy of the way I view children as the future creative and independent adults they can become. Children are like pieces of clay in nature. Information and facts are all around, as water, particles and other forces of nature around the clay. These are assimilated into the clay, sometimes easily absorbed, sometimes not. At other times they are ignored, as they are already in the clay, or the clay is just not ready for them or does not want them.  All that is around and in the clay shapes and molds until it takes the form, which it was meant to be, or wants to be. It is ready to stand on its own…and reshape again if necessary or desired. It is aware of its Healthy Sense of Self.

Both as a mother and as an educator, I seek to give the children in my life space to learn and grow respecting their learning process! I let my own children become themselves and they are both accomplished adults in their unique ways—who have a clear sense of who they are. Accordingly, I let my students also be themselves as I teach them what I must (according to the accepted curriculums—which causes me stress as a teacher at times!)

So do not feel guilty if summer school, tutoring, etc. was not in the picture for the summer. It may have been too expensive, unreasonable or just not in the interest of your child to schedule–or your child just may not have wanted to do it. Did you give your child/children time to play and just be…and find some time to play with them—I hope so. It is good for you and them.

As a parent, why put your child into a summer program in the first place? What is your “direct motivation” or are you motivated indirectly? Do you want them out of your hair? Is it for their enjoyment? Is to assure they stay “sharp” as students and potentially become programmed to over-achieve? Have the courage to be honest with your true reasons and question what is your role as their parent?

Kids actually like spending time with parents but will sense when the quality time is genuine. Would you like a summer vacation yourself  and time to play a little. It could be good for you too arrange your schedule to be with them for fun and simply being together.

It would be as good for your Sense of Self as it is for the natural development of theirs!

Trust and know that your child is taking in what he/she wants and needs, and is molding and shaping into what he/she is meant to be- with a healthy sense of self!

We will all survive September, no matter what we do during the summer. And with two weeks of Summer remaining, may you make time to play with the children in your life and the child in you, in the name of cultivating a Healthy Sense of Self.

More on PLAY and creative ideas for expressing your true Self to follow.

©Linda Zeppa



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