My family has ADHD. Seriously, all of us. Ok, not my husband and potentially my oldest child. I think she may just have 17 years of her mom's ADD-ness to combat. In other words I think she learned it and doesn't really have it. Anyway, the rest of us... um, yeah. So school isn't fun for us. There's all that reading and number crap they want us to do. We aren't diggin' it. At all. Especially the number crap.
So last year I flatly refused to send any of my kids to summer school. (That decision was not well recieved by school officials. I think I earned some big time "bad mommy" points on that.) Seriously though, WHY would I want to do that? We wait all year for summer break and they want to torture us with that stuff? Ok, ok I know a lot of kids benefit from it but mine don't. It's just another heart ache, another head ache, another something-or-other that doesn't really work for them. They already go for 9 months out of the year, why prolong the torture? Honestly, if traditional school worked well for my kids they wouldn't need stinkin' summer school, right?
I digress. Let's get back to the topic at hand: The Summer Store of AWESOMENESS!! (SSoA) This is my answer to summer school. My kids loved it last year and in fact, asked me multiple times over the past year if we could have the SSoA. I said "No. It's October (December, January, March...) It's not summer." It has kept the excitement building around here. It's almost summer and today we started brainstorming about it.
What is this Summer Store of AWESOMENESS you ask? It is a fun creative way to get the kids thinking over summer and hopefully reduce summer learning loss without the trauma of summer school. Here's the basic outline: we set up a selection of math or language arts related activities and assign them a dollar value. The more "scholastic" the activity the more money you earn. Our money is called "Brain Bucks". (That helps us remember we can't just earn them for any old thing, it has to be beneficial to our brains.)
So the kids earn the brain bucks and I have a small but AWESOME store set up where they can spend the brain bucks on anything from picnics to Pez dispensers, from music downloads to make-up. I put trips to museums, tank tops, baseball cards, funky socks, cool pencils, whatever I find. Now I'm not made of money so I shop a lot of dollar store/discount store/clearance aisle type venues. Sometimes yard sales bring a particularly good find. I look for anything the kids might want that will motivate them. Friday is shopping day, and although they can look and plan all week, no items are "sold" before Friday.
The kids earn bucks by reading books, estimating totals on grocery trips, cooking (from recipes), writing about stuff we do over the summer, playing games (we're particularly fond of Farkle and Hangman) reading poems out loud to me... what ever we can think of that the kids will actually do. Some activities are totally simple, like Hangman. Some are more challenging. I like to give them some really easy fun things because it helps them stay motivated and gives them a small reward come Friday.
It's hard to earn brain bucks. There are limits on how many 4 line poems you can crank out on a Thursday night before you don't get paid. If you memorize the poem you earn more. If it's more that 8 lines you earn more. You can earn a couple of bucks on a Farkle game, but flash cards are worth much more. Also everything in the "store" is priced according to desirability. A 99 cent eyeliner is far more in demand around here than a 5 dollar bead kit so the prices in my store flip. I also put math problems on the packages that the kids have to figure out to know the price of the item. I get to be totally obnoxious about my store and I love it! Whether they admit it or not, the kids love it too.
Last summer there was a certain amount of competition between the kids about who can earn the most brain bucks by Friday. They battled it out for who would get that one really cool 'whatever-it-was'. They challenged each other to do better, they played games together, they spent "down time" figuring out what brain buck activity they wanted to do next. It was fun and I think it worked out well, I think it acheived the desired results.
So this year I'm looking for new ideas. I'll take whatever I can get that I think will work, that the kids will actually do. I'm thinking of summer blogs and goofy graphing projects (How many times does Mom say "dude" in a day? In a week? Is there a time of day she says it more? Is there a specific kid she says it to more often? How many minutes late is Cayla on average date with Dylan? How long is the average date? Whatever silly thing we can graph data about). I'm starting a reading group for my youngest with her friend. I'll be reading a lot of middle school girl books this summer I think. :) Please, if you read this, give me your thoughts. You can suggest a game a reward, and activity, whatever.
Summer break is just around the corner and I'm so excited for the Summer Store of AWESOMENESS! I hope it's as successful as last year.