That Summer Slide
Thoughts & Reflections
There’s a concept we notice in education, often children “lose” information over the Summer, when they might not be working academically or focusing on acquiring new skills or data.
This is the nature of our educational system, and why, in Montessori, we don’t “test.” See this post about Internalization for more on that. Everything we learn in a Montessori classroom is internalized prior to moving on, mastery comes before progression.
When we internalize concepts, they’re not forgotten after the test. We’re always building on prior knowledge, so it’s ALL important; life is the test.
Children can tap into previous knowledge and make connections, even during “non-academic” months. You see, children are always learning, no matter if they’re in a classroom or at the beach or at home, they’re always learning something.
They’re learning facts and data and academic skills. They’re learning social norms and how to have positive relationships with other children and with adults. They’re learning internal qualities, like self-motivation, what to do when you’re bored, prioritization, initiative, joy in the task.
We forget skills when we don’t use them. But if it’s become muscle memory, it doesn’t matter how long it’s been since we rode a bike, or calculated the area of a triangle, or sounded out a long word, the smallest of triggers, and it’s back again.
There are opportunities for overt learning during the Summer, even when a child has been in a paradigm, such as Montessori, where she’s always internalizing new skills and knowledge prior to moving on. Montessori is known for helping children in curating a desire to learn, a love of learning, an excitement about discovering new things.
If you love to work, love a good brain-teaser, if Word Problems make you feel like Sherlock Holmes, if memorizing a list of spelling words or capitals in Asia makes your brain sparkle, a workbook isn’t a chore, it’s a fun game.
Trips to the library might as well be trips abroad, for the doors to learning they open.
Facetime and Skype have changed communication across the world, especially for families living far away, but a postcard, or a special note on a lovely card, could be practice on penmanship.
Perhaps a more relaxed schedule means a few more opportunities to use that membership to the Zoo, or Aquarium, and just sit and make observations together. Learn what a Klipspringer eats, or if Orangutans are still endangered.
“Trips to the library might as well be trips abroad, for the doors to learning they open.”
Or go visit your favorite piece in the local art museum, and then go home. Or perhaps make a day of it — find a piece of art that is a new favorite. Ask your phone or your favorite librarian for more information on Degas, or Chihuly, or Rothko. Write a report about this artist, or perhaps their art inspires you to make your own.
The possibilities are endless. Summer doesn’t need to be a time to lose skills, but instead an opportunity to dive deep into the great ocean of learning around us every day.
Written by:Charlotte Wood