I try to entertain my kids during non-school days with travel, meaningful play, and creativity. When that doesn’t work, I turn to random chores assigned for the sole purpose of keeping kids separated from one another and too busy to whine. When all the above fails me, however, as it did the final day of winter break, I turn to my favorite parental right: the issuing of speed essays.
What is a speed essay, you ask? Here you go: assign age-appropriate topics to arguing, bored, or otherwise irritating children, give them 10 minutes research time on a computer or phone, then two minutes (each) to deliver oral essays on their topics. With three kids, that’s at least 20 minutes of good, clean fun. You’re welcome, kids.
I don’t think too hard before assigning topics, so on our last round, we had ‘technological innovations of the 20th century’ assigned to Calvin, ‘animals of Africa’ assigned to Nate, and ‘early pioneering history’ assigned to Tobias. Essays must be delivered with some semblance of order and theme, with an introductory sentence, organized points, and a conclusion. Questions may be taken at the end. Any essay filled with ‘ums’ or ‘I forgots’ or ‘let me start overs’ gets a buzzer and a re-do.
What I get out of it: watching the kids grumble and sweat. What they get out of it: random information and healthy competition. What we all get out of it: interesting discussions…this time on the ethics of cloning, the tragedy of the Donner Party, and of course, the hilarity of the unfortunately-named dik dik. (Here’s one.)
Within our school district, there’s noise of a teacher strike. If it occurs, I’m sure I’ll have more to say on the subject, but for now, at least I have a homeschool curriculum ready, hmmm? Yeah, not even close…