The longing of each elementary school-age child in the summer, is to pretend like school does not exist. They will not discuss homework, or teachers, or any of the evaluations of their success by adults at school, such as a B- in reading. School is the unmentionable thing. Try “pool” instead and you’ll have better luck starting a conversation.
Teach the Kids Undercover
I’ve got a secret plan: Let’s teach our kids over the summer without them knowing it.
We’ve got a lot of hurdles. I’d argue that present day technology makes it harder, not easier, to pass on genuine knowledge to the younger generation. Facts are deceptively accessible, but are they the knowledge we really need? Still, let’s do it. Let’s educate our children through experiences, like nature parks and local art showings. Let’s ask them to discuss it all. Why is it even there? What is the goal of those people who preserve national parks? Why do people play good music outside for the mere pleasure of having an audience listen?
Learn Through Doing
Let’s educate teenagers through real summer jobs, but not in the manner of pushing them into the workplace with a mentality of fake it till you make it. Let’s educate our teenagers through exposing them to great, decent people doing great, decent work, and best of all, doing it with grace and a wink. If you’ve ever received excellent customer service, you’ll know what I mean by grace, and if you’ve ever been that person, I take my hat off to you. Search for the place where your teenager can learn from the best, even if they’re learning to make coffee.
And then there are workshops offered in summer that focus on developing specific talents. Summer programs that focus on chess or theater or woodwork are different in intent and pace from school. There’s a reason they aren’t usually called “classes”. They are project-based in nature. I made something, your child thinks at the end, and it’s different from anything anyone else has made. Or maybe he doesn’t think much of anything except: That was tolerably fun! I think I’ll go play a video game now. But he has been a creator, has made a little bit of uniqueness and given you a glimpse into how he views the world. You might be educated by that knowledge in your own turn.
So avoid “s” word, but never stop educating the kids. Our time with them is too precious.