Ever since Zoe started Kindergarten, we have bought Summer Bridge books during the summer for the kids to work on. Zoe always enjoyed the books and did them until the summer between 6th and 7th grades, for the most part, happily.
We’ve also bought these same books for Landon every year only he doesn’t quite enjoy doing them. Yesterday he had a complete meltdown when we sat down to work on his book (2 pages) and refused to even look at what he had to do for the day.
After sitting at the table for awhile he got so upset he actually started crying and asking me why we were making him do this work during the summer when school was out. He asked me if I had to do this kind of thing when I was a kid and if I didn’t why should he? I felt bad when he started to cry, but I held my ground and explained to him that we just wanted to keep his skills fresh for the upcoming school year.
I can’t say that I ever had to do this type of thing during the summer when I was a kid, but I can say that I never went back to school remembering everything that I had learned the previous year. (Does anyone really remember everything they’ve learned?) I was always one of the strugglers in the class, especially when it came to math. I’m not sure if I was just a lazy student, or if it just wasn’t meant to be, but I’ll never forget 3rd grade and how it shaped me as a math student; unfortunately for the worst. We all sat at tables of 4 and every Thursday we were timed on how fast we could fill in our multiplications charts. We each had our own chart, but we were timed as a group; whichever table was done the quickest was rewarded with lunch in the classroom with the teacher that Friday. (Which is a big deal when you are 7 and/or 8 years old!)
My table never won.
And, it wasn’t because my table was slow, it was because I was. I just couldn’t master memorizing my multiplication facts. The poor kids that sat at my table would wait every Thursday hoping that I’d finish my problems, but the day never came. Not one time that whole, long, embarrassing year did we get to enjoy lunch with the teacher. I can’t be positive that that single year in elementary school made me the math student I was in school, but I do think it had something to do with it.
So, I guess I am trying to help my kids stay ahead of the game, even if to them it probably feels like punishment. I could tell this story to Landon, but I’m pretty sure it won’t change his mind about why he still has to work on his skills when I didn’t. I can only hope that having him work on his skills during the summer will make him a stronger student during the school year.