My summer has been made up mostly of this big move to Minnesota and “summer school” for the kids. If you have kids in school these days, you understand that there is an expectation that the children are continuing to learn and review over the summer, so as not to forget everything they learned in the school year. For us, that means over 40 pages of math worksheets and an appeal from the school district and teachers to keep up in reading and writing.
I am an educator by background, so I feel like I can handle what I like to call “summer homeschooling”. It’s just that it goes against my nature to study in the summer months. I don’t remember ever having to study over the summer. At least not until summer school in high school. Which by the way, I can confidently recommend getting a P.E. class taken care of, but don’t recommend trying to fulfill a Typing requirement over the summer. (Do they even offer Typing anymore?)
As you can imagine, forcing my 7-year-old boy to write an informative piece about his trip to Six Flags is kind of like trying to get a squirrel to weed your garden. And encouraging my 11-year-old son to write a meaningful essay, keeping in mind his audience, is on par with wisdom teeth surgery – both painful and costly.
So anytime, I can teach the kids important lessons on their own terms is a happy day. When their motivation becomes intrinsic and not extrinsic, there is cause to celebrate. Unfortunately, sometimes that means allowing tangents that involve using the dictionary to look up the words poop and pee, when we are supposed to be looking up how to correctly spell the word provided.
But allowing my eldest a chance to deviate from his task afforded us some unexpected teachable moments. First, thanks to the definition of poop provided by Longman’s Dictionary of American English, we learned a new word – BOWELs. We also were reminded that using the word poop is mainly childish jargon (a nice reminder to my 11-year-old). We also learned that a secondary definition of the poop is synonymous with “the latest news”, as in So what’s the poop on the new guy? (We just expanded our vernacular!)
Second, it afforded us a short lesson on adjectives. Josiah then thought it necessary for his research to also look up the word pee. Which ended up being not as exciting, since we already knew the word urinate and Longman offered no other definitions or useful phrases to expand our repertoire.
But, as looking up pee and poop in a public setting will often do, Josiah and I had gathered a small audience of inquisitive minds. Upon seeing Josiah’s disappointment in the underwhelming definition of the word pee, my 7-year-old piped in, “Josiah, was the word poop excitinger [sic] than the word pee?” Which began yet another teachable moment in the subject of adjectives, where discussion of comparatives and superlatives (more and most versus –er and –est) was actually a welcomed topic of conversation.
In the end, Josiah learned how to look-up and spell the word provided, finished his essay, and learned how important audience is to writing and presentation, especially when your audience are children and they appreciate words like poop and pee.