Enrichment Based Summer School Work Morphs into AP Course Prep

Yesterday was August fifth! I honestly do not know where this summer has gone!  In the past, during most summers, I kept my boys busy with enrichment exercises to prevent what is commonly known as the summer slide. When they were younger this meant involvement in the library reading program, tracking all the books they read over the summer and working on comprehension strategies. It also meant travel journals, extra math problems, and some work on grammar and conventions, playing Geo-Bee, and reading up on some history as we visited places like Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Gettysburg, Williamsburg, Colorado, and Niagara Falls.  In fact, only a few short years ago my boys were writing letters and/or post cards to their grandparents and cousins several times during the summer. These were written as much to stay in contact as they were to practice writing skills.

Some years, even as recently as last year, courses were taken. The courses taken over the summer months at our house have been primarily math related. There was a Math Counts Prep Course and Pre-calculus through Johns Hopkins. And, a very long time ago, Geometry through an online platform called Aleks, as well as Health via K12. This was in addition to experiences with the Rosetta Stone software, 3D printer software, CNC machine software, raspberry pi, a drone and some other miscellaneous online courses. My oldest even took a few language courses through Corsera.

One thing is for sure, we are a family that likes to learn! My husband can often be found listening to continuing education online or laughing through a tutorial on the restoration of old trucks on YouTube. And, as for myself, the fact that the end of my coursework for a second master’s degree is nearing, tells it all. I can be found reading, writing papers, developing curriculum, and occasionally complaining about it. But, deep down, I love it!

This is the first summer I can remember when someone was not off at camp or taking an online course.  Three summers were spent at engineering camps. Two through Michigan Tech University and one through the University Wisconsin at Platteville.  Neither University won over my son’s choice to attend as instead he will proceed into the engineering program in yet another state later this month. Regardless, they were both great learning experiences! Last summer my engineering camper was chosen to attend Badger Boys Camp which is a leadership camp in our state.  It also was a great experience in which he was honored to take part. He enjoyed running for an elected office, as he went for the brass ring of  being selected as governor. And, although he did not win, there was much merit in the experience. In the more distant past, there was a year of music camp attended by musicians who were selected through auditions to be part of an elite state honors band in Wisconsin. Summer learning took place through all these camp experiences as well.

And, once our district began to offer enrichment for TAG students at the middle school level during the summer a few years ago, my youngest was a reluctant participant. But, I felt it was nice to see something offered for students that was not just remediation. There is a small proportion of students who are engaged in learning all year and something should be offered that is interesting for them as well. Don’t you agree?! Learning without the pressure of grades or credits can re-motivate and re-introduce students to the joy of learning. I’ve seen this time and time again.

But, here we are nearing the end of summer already and instead of summer enrichment coursework being over for the students in my house, it is just beginning.  Several AP classes at our high school come with pre-school year prep work. While some families and even teachers might take issue with this, I do not. I really cannot differentiate from what I asked my students to do over the summer months and these packets of prep work for their upcoming AP classes at the high school this school year. The work will slowly get them back into the groove of studying before actually sitting in the class. It will re-waken their foggy summer brains that have been solely focused on soccer balls, art projects, and get together’s with friends. I see nothing wrong with it. In fact, my youngest, who is starting his AP prep work for Chemistry once told me he’d prefer year round school. Surely, that is a topic for another post, but I can relate. Learning never really stops, not for summer and not for aging. If the teachers want to ask the students do some summer prep work, it’s alright by me – after all, it is exactly what I’ve asked of them myself since they were small.

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