As homeschool parents enter the month of June, they may also encounter a phenomenon that I like to call the “summer scaries.” This is the few months in which they worry that their homeschool students will promptly forget everything they learned over the past school year, especially in more practice-based subjects like math and writing.
In my opinion, the summer scaries are a legitimate concern, especially since students learn and retain that knowledge in different ways. Are these subjects like riding a bike? Will all the knowledge rush back as soon as the homeschool student picks up a pencil or opens a Word document? Should a summer break simply be abolished so the student never goes too long without at least some practice?
Your homeschooling schedule is entirely up to you, and I’m not here to suggest that either taking a break or schooling throughout the year is somehow superior to the alternative. Instead, what I want to do is provide some suggestions for banishing the summer scaries as we enter the warmer months of 2019, particularly as they apply to writing.
Save a writing assessment for the beginning of the next school year.
The assessments included in the Essentials in Writing curriculum, especially the comprehensive assessments, are wonderful tools for gauging your student’s progress immediately after learning and applying new concepts. However, they can also be used as an indicator of what your student may need to review before the next EIW level. You and your student can then make a list of specific concepts and then keep a close eye on these concepts over the next school year.
Provide writing “assignments” over the summer that are fun.
Assignments? Over the summer? I can already see you shaking your head or rolling your eyes at my naivete, but hear me out. Writing, as you and your student have hopefully discovered by now, is more than essays and papers—it also includes narratives, letters, lists, and pretty much anything you can imagine that can be written down. Encourage your student to write a letter to a friend, pen an imaginative narrative about a fantastic adventure, or create a list of places they’d like to visit over the summer. Bonus: these writings won’t be graded by you or scored by any rubric, so their creativity is limited only by their own imagination.
Don’t worry about it—at all.
You read that right! Writing may be a daunting subject, but part of what makes Essentials in Writing so effective is the time spent reviewing and reminding the student of what they already know before introducing brand-new concepts. For example, if Mr. Stephens is introducing the imperative sentence to students in a level, he’ll make sure to review the other sentence types—declarative, interrogative, exclamatory—beforehand so that the student knows what to expect and doesn’t feel overwhelmed.
Because of the time and lessons devoted to reviewing the material, you don’t need to worry that your homeschool student will forget everything they learned the previous year. They may need a bit of reminding, and the road may not be perfectly smooth, but over the past year, they learned how to craft a paragraph. They perfected writing hooks and closing sentences. They practiced how to avoid certain sentence errors, and if they don’t immediately remember these strengths, they soon will.
Writing, like many other skills, is not something that can be learned fully and thus fully forgotten. It is practiced, built upon, improved—and because of this, you don’t need to worry that your student will completely forget everything they ever learned about it over a few months. Give them assessments, suggest that they write creatively over the summer, but overall, rest easy and resist the summer scaries. Your student has learned, is learning, and will keep learning how to write—and what they’ve learned isn’t leaving anytime soon.
Essentials in Writing