Earlier this summer I was concerned about my homeschooled sports nut and how I was worried about his time spent in sports overshadowing his work in language arts. Throughout the summer (which, I have come to learn, is a perfect time for unschooling to blossom), my sports nut kid and his siblings have undertaken a total baseball immersion program of their own design.
It started in the spring with all three kids in little league; the boys on a baseball team and my daughter on a softball team. They practiced and played during the regular and post season. My daughter started receiving computerized box scores of her games, created a binder and together the kids began to study closely her teams’ statistics.
And then my Mother/Homeschool Angel, with help from my sister/teacher, found some books by Matt Christopher. Not only were they about Little League players and their adventures, but they were also at a grade level perfect for Little League age kids, like mine. We have since searched for as many baseball related books as possible from Amazon.com to public libraries and second-hand shops. My little sports nut that never sat still graduated to READING IN BED! He has also has been working on the ongoing project of building a Fenway Park replica with Legos.
Around the same time my Mom also instituted a reading program for the kids, rewarding them with cash for each book read over the summer. I can’t even describe what it was like, though, to find that sports nut child laying around with his nose stuck in a book!
His older brother, a total baseball fanatic, has become a walking baseball trivia library. As a dyslexic he has had numerous baseball books read to him, and has done a good deal of reading himself as well – more than ever.
Over the course of the summer the kids’ baseball/softball immersion program included:
1. Playing the game on regular and all-star teams.
2. Practicing at home every day that didn’t rain, even at beaches or other people’s houses, where ever they could.
3. Setting up a weekly pick-up game in our community.
4. Learning about statistics, such as ERA’s and batting averages and how they’re computed.
5. Reading baseball novels, biographies, histories,etc.
6. Watching YouTube tutorials about pitching, etc.
7. Learning how the Little League World Series is structured and about different world and U.S. teams.
8. Watching baseball and softball games, bloopers and best-of videos on the Internet.
9. Attending Senior League World Series games in Bangor, Maine.
10. Reading standings and sports stories in the local newspaper.
11. Looking up scores on the Internet
12. Learning the multitude of baseball and softball rules by playing, learning from coaches and other kids, and by watching and listening to games
13. Learning Red Sox trivia with a card game, by watching Red Sox videos and through discussions with their diehard Red Sox fan of a father.
14. Listening to games on the radio.
15. Writing up their own rosters.
Over the past three months they covered reading, writing, math, computer skills, engineering, geography, social studies, history, physical education, teamwork and mentoring. And what part did I have in this? A couple trips to the library and some driving. The kids did this. This summer they owned their education.
It’s been said that young students in the U.S. slide backwards in their skills during the summer compared to kids in most other countries where school is year-round, unless they are exposed to a multitude of learning camps and other educational opportunities during their vacation. One of those opportunities is the freedom to create your own educational program. Given that freedom, kids will learn.