Time for a rest

Time off is an important part of not having a burn out kid...

Time for a rest

The school year faded away early and I let it. There is nothing better than bordom to spark motivation and innovation. We took a solid 3 months off at the end of the year from everything except for low impact Zoom classes and pass-fail grading.

My definition of taking time off involves a lot of physcial activity. 'Time off' also involves studying this year, because the little one has a high impact high school entrance exam in the spring and now is the time to go into high gear.

Summer activities

Ground rules never change. Ground rules apply to every day of the year except for birthday and Christmas. I list the things that need to be done each day, with more chores on the weekend, and until completed, no fun. Fun means getting online with one's friends, and therefore these kids are highly movated. During the school week homework precludes extra math after 4th grade, so summers become especially important to academic advancement.

We started music lessons for the first time ever for lack of anything else to do. Once a week both my kids sit in front of their computers with their instruments and instructor and working from home is that much harder. 1 hour down, 167 left to go.

Each child has about 1 hour of exercize to do each day, which they often exceed. I don't care if it's bike, run, or walk really fast, lifting weights, ab crunchers. The little one walked a 6 mile round trip to pick up a Zelda cartridge. Reading is always mandatory, but much much harder with a teen who is constantly interrupted by high priority urgent texts from his friends every 12 seconds. We went camping 3 times (tip, go before June 10 because it gets really hot after that.) Painted an entire room, cleaned all the windows outside and in, did landscaping, fixed bikes, found a gaming chair in the alley and replafced the hardware, threw out a dumpster full of unused items, rearranged the furniture, shampooed the basement rug, cleaned the grout, did some rewiring, spent 9 hours assembling an Ikea desk, removed poison ivy, swept the garage, took apart and redisgned the loft bed, turned the back room into an Office Game Room Internet Cafe. Some of these tasks have been on my todo list for 10 years. Uninterrupted cognitive skills training have produced kids who are capabible of any adult level chore. I assign 2-8 hours of chores on the weekend.

Test prep

The focus this summer is to get ready for next year's MAP test. This is an untimed test of 50 math and 50 reading comp questions that determines whether or not a student in Chicago can go to one of the top high schools. My son's school of choice requires a perfect score and straight A's, but my school of choice for him has a bigger freshman class and thus requires a lower score and a maximum of one B. He gets to decide, and I don't care which of us gets our first choice.

The students spend between 5 and 6 hours on each test for a total of about 10 to 12 hours. Each question answered correctly results in a harder question. Top scorers get to about Junior year in high school by the end of the test. No one has reported derivates or integrals on the test yet. Maybe we'll be the first to see integrals.

The only activity that we are doing to prepare is SAT practice. The MAP test is in May and hopefully we'll sit for the actual SAT in April.

To reiterate the most important point of all, we're using the SAT, a timed test, to prepare for the MAP, an untimed test. The SAT is an aptituted test, to show you can apply thinking skills to material you supposedly learned or masters. The MAP test is an mix of questions to demonstrate you can apply those same skills to material you might not have seen before at a level you're not expected to see again for 6 years.

The actual SAT

Parents are not allowed in the building before, during or after the test. Last time the security guard noticed that my son was a foot shorter than the other kids and allowed me to drop him off at the end of the registration desk before I was kicked out.

There were thirteen 7th graders sitting for the exam and they were put in a special room so as to not freak out the juniors who are under enough stress without having to sit next to a 12 year old. The younglings take the full SAT and are then subjected to a "special" section. All questions and answers are available online in about 4 weeks except for the special section. My son reported that this mystery section was more cognitve and less aptitude in nature. I'll learn more next time from the kid who memorizes tests and talks way too much.

A 4 1/2 hour high school test is a pretty good prep experience for the MAP test, which has high school level material but only 40% of the questions. The PSAT is administered Freshman year for practice and sophomore year for real, but it is only 2 1/2 hours. Can you imagine zero pressure taking one of these tests because you've already done the real thing and can say 'This is not my first rodeo?'

Reviewing questions and answers from the test is fun. If I were to graph the performance, it would be a strong uphill climb followed by tumbling down the other side for lack of academic stamina. We'll see how the next one does.

The payoff

When I picked my son up last time, he walked out of the testing center appearing one foot taller. I think he had some imaginary facial hair. He was really proud of himself and his hard earned confidence was a giant war weary golem with large axes in each hand. If I got him an job and an apartement, I think he would have been fine on his own.

It was also great preparation for the MAP test.

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