Most of us parents want summer to be flexible and fun for our kids, yet we don’t want that to mean they have complete freedom for their brains to wither away in front of a screen all day. We need a SUMMER SUCCESS PLAN for our kids that is fun, memorable, a change of pace that won’t break the bank, and it would be a bonus if our kids actually developed in key areas of life at the same time!
That all seems a bit too much to ask for one summer especially with the limited time we parents have to monitor and coordinate a meaningful break. So, what’s going to motivate us to make this SUMMER SUCCESS PLAN? Well, let me ask you a question:
Oh dear, that question kind of makes me hold my breath for a moment. Suddenly the realization of having only 18 or less summers with our growing kids makes the summer days so much more valuable. It’s time to be intentional.
Yes, summer should be full of leisure, fun, and rejuvenation but what it should not be is wasted. Don’t waste this precious time. Summer can be relaxing and developmental all at the same time! But it will require a little brainstorming and planning to make it fit both of those aspects into the limited 8-10 weeks we’ve got.
Don’t worry, these activities are not all parent-centered activities. After all, our kids need time alone just as much as we adults crave time alone. This post is just about making the most of your child’s summer days.
I’d love for you and your child to set some GOALS for summer break. So, to help with the specifics of how to really make the most of your child’s summer through goal setting with your child,
Whether or not you or your child sets some goals for this summer, you can use the following list of activities to help your kids grow and develop in the next two months. I would encourage you to pick out which of the following activities must be completed each day by your child before he or she is free to get in front of a screen for leisure.The following list is pretty much my “we never have ENOUGH time to give this subject the quality emphasis it deserves during the school year” list, but we’ll just call it the “SUMMER SUCCESS ACTIVITIES for KIDS” list for short.
Ten Summer Success Activities for Kids:1. A little Academics – The two subjects that I usually emphasize in the summer are Typing and Math (I also emphasize geography, but I’ll talk about that separately in a bit).
2. Journaling– Make this more fun by taking them to the store and letting them pick out a journal or notebook to use for this project. Keeping a journal improves kids’ writing skills, provides a mentally healthy outlet for expressing their thoughts, and can be a great keepsake, if they want it to be. Let them know you won’t read their journal unless they ask you to read something and don’t correct their grammar or spelling, because that’s not the goal of journaling. If they can’t think of anything to write about, you can get them a writing prompts book, but really it would be best if they write about what they’re thinking, feeling, praying, doing, and wrestling with in their lives. Or they could simply make a prayer journal. (A prayer plan they could use can be the acronym PRAY: Praise God, Repent to God, Ask God for His guidance and His help, and say Yes to God’s leading. They could journal their prayers.)
THE PRACTICALLY SPEAKING MOM’S LIST OF FAVORITE FAMILY AUDIO BOOKS
Adventures in Odyssey
Chuck Black books on CD, especially boys love his writing style and topics, but my girls loved all of his series as well.
Lamplighters books on CD
Focus on the Family Radio Theatre
History CD’s by Diana Waring, Mystery of History, and Story of the World
Awana Club books on CD
8. Enrichment Outings– Summer is the best time for special events and family fun at new locations. How about we schedule events that include enriching our family members’ character while we’re at it. Sure, go to the museum and to the lake, but also, let your kids experience the wonderful emotion of caring beyond themselves. Here are some Enrichment Outings that we do with a focus on caring beyond yourself:
*Go to a Nursing Home once a month to play games with residents in the memory care department, *Volunteer in the church nursery or kids’ department or any other way at church – for our family church is a place we SERVE *Help at a mission or soup kitchen *Drop off clothes at a sponsored children’s home in your community or help a struggling family out by providing a meal or playing with the kids or cleaning their house *Adopt a “grandparent” in your neighborhood who could use some help on their yard or just to visit together or play a game with them.
One summer, my third daughter, Abby, and I had probably the greatest mother/daughter summer of all time. We selected one other mother/daughter pair and we went through a book called Secret Keeper Girls 8 Great Dates for You and Your Daughter by D Gresh. It was an amazing, life changing experience for all four of us!
The first week was a tea adventure (shopping at an antique store to hunt for fancy china tea cups, going to a tea shop to select some boxes of tea to purchase, and then we finished up with a tea party at my mother’s home. At the tea party we discussed that our daughters’ bodies are treasures like fine china, not Styrofoam cups. We expect them to treasure their bodies and other people to treasure their bodies enough to protect them and honor them in how our daughters dress, what they put into their bodies, and how they reserve their intimate self for marriage). That was just week one! Each week was a precious memory that we’ll never forget.
9. Physical Development
10. Relationship Development– As I mentioned earlier in this post, people skills are a vital part of a successful life. Knowing how to get along with people, show that you care, express your ideas effectively, present yourself respectably, these are all people skills that will affect every relationship in your child’s present and future with their spouse, children, siblings, coworkers, boss, customers, neighbors, pastor, and so on.
I am passionate about teaching people how to communicate effectively – that’s why I’m The Practically Speaking MOM – because I want to give practical tools and insights into how to communicate in ways that strengthen relationships, encourage people, and bring God glory. Now, how do we translate this into practical activities our kids can do this summer? Let’s get a game plan here: Brainstorm a list with your child of the relationships in his or her life that need the most improvement. Then get some dates written on your calendar where you could let your child develop some of those relationships, whether it’s with a friend, a sibling, or you! If it’s scheduled, you’re more likely to nail down an activity to do with that person that could provide a growth opportunity.Then brainstorm about one or two people skills that your child needs to work on – such as not give sarcastic responses to people, or look at the person who’s talking to them, or learning to enunciate their words more clearly so that people can understand what they’re saying. Get a little system of reward and regret about fixing one of these issues. For example, let them know you’ll give them this jar of nickels. Every time they respond sarcastically, they need to take a nickle out of their jar and put it in the “regret bank” jar.
That’s their “regret” for responding sarcastically and they lose the nickel. If they go an entire day with no sarcastic remarks, they get an extra 30 minutes for xbox play tomorrow – that’s their “reward.” Let them help to come up with this plan, if possible, as it will be more effective if they’ve helped to create the “regrets” and “rewards” Talk about your child’s relationship with God. Help them find some specific ways to grow closer to God this summer.
Maybe you’ll go to the Christian bookstore and let them pick out a devotional for their age, pull together some craft supplies to make some cute Bible verses that they want to memorize (I’m not talking anything amazing here – colored notecards, some markers and glitter glue can be enough to make it great), pick a book of the Bible that you and your child will read separately each day and talk about together a couple times a week, or maybe you’ll get some videos that you can watch at lunch each day. Here’s some we like:
The Practically Speaking MOM’s Family Favorites List of God-Us Relationship Building/Worldview Videos – For Younger: What’s in the Bible series by the original creator of Veggie Tales
– For Older: True U from the Creators of Focus on the Family’s The Truth Project
-For All Ages: Moody Science Classics, Drive Thru History, anything by Brian Young (he might occasionally believe a little differently from me, but he has fascinating animal and science facts that my kids really enjoy) or Masterbooks
Those 18 or less summers that your child has at home can be a special time of growth in several key areas while still being fun and relaxing. It just takes some intentionality to make it happen!
Go ahead and give some of these ideas a try, you might just happen to create some lifelong memories on your quest for your child’s summer success.