Laura Torres Souder

Laura Torres Souder

This past Fourth of July weekend holiday, Sammy and I stopped over in Seattle on our way to Guam for a much anticipated visit with our grand-nephew Kiko – of "Kiko’s Adventure on the Flying Magic Proa" fame – and our nieces Erin and Brittany. It was, as always, a cherished time filled with wonderful new memories to fuel our waning spirits on a dreary day. We stayed together at an Airbnb, a great alternative to hotels and a sure way of having family members gather under the same roof without the hassle of commuting or overcrowding.

As Kiko unpacked his backpack, out came workbooks, books he was reading for the summer, dominoes – his favorite game with Uncle Sammy – and the CHamoru version of our book. He explained that the workbooks were part of “Mommy School,” tracing the quotes in the air.

Erin and I had already discussed her strategy for summer learning, but I wanted to hear from Kiko what he understood Mommy School to be.

Kiko explained to me that children fall behind and forget what they learned if they don’t keep reading and practicing the skills they acquired in the previous grade.

“So,” he exclaimed, “learning must never stop especially during summer vacation. Mommy School is kind of like a bridge that helps you get to the next grade. So when school starts, I’ll be ready to rumble in the 4th grade. Besides, if I complete all my 10 responsibilities each day, I get to play games and have screen time."

I asked Kiko what his responsibilities were.

He said, “The basics like making my bed, brushing my teeth, getting cleaned up and dressed, eating a good breakfast and straightening out my room – that includes putting my dirty clothes in the hamper. Then, my mom assigns me a chore for the day, which I have to do without complaining. You know, Auntie Lo, family citizenship stuff.”

I smiled with pride. I guess our years of talking and writing about these things rubbed off!

I asked, "Then what?"

He replied, “Then there is the academic stuff. I read at least 20 minutes, usually more. You just can’t stop if what you’re reading is interesting. After, I do my workbook assignments. Mom got me the preparing for fourth grade workbook series. There are math, science and language arts exercises. I am familiar with some of the work, but I am learning new things too. It’s not just a review. Basically, it helps me to think through things.” He shared that he and his mom also review his work and when he doesn’t understand something he looks it up or seeks help from his mom.

Giggling, Kiko explained, “That is why we call it Mommy School. She’s the teacher!”

Teaching is not Erin's vocation; she is a human relations executive at a multinational firm based in Seattle. However, she takes her responsibility as a learning guide and coach to Kiko very seriously. She Googled vocabulary words fourth graders should know, and they practice using them daily. She also downloads projects and activities that are age-appropriate.

Kiko shared that they go on “field trips” and have fun outings to discover the area. He does a lot of outdoor exploring with his dad on weekends.

Kiko is allowed supervised screen time and video gaming. Like other 9-year-old kids, he is superactive in sports, enjoys martial arts, takes piano lessons and is attending a music summer camp this week. He also will visit his nana and avo in Hawaii later this month.

Summer presents a great opportunity for making learning fun. In Kiko’s words, “It's not fancy stuff but so cool.” Mommy School is worth considering!

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