Our culture has been trained to follow a schedule that may contribute to dumbing us down. You know the schedule that revolves around a conventional school model where you go to school fall through spring and once summer comes you abandon all academics. I hear parents worried and scrambling to fill a whole new schedule, worried that their children will watch tv all day long. And now with today’s economy, many parents worry about the extra cost of extra classes and entertainment.
It takes a real concerted effort on everyone’s part to fill the summer without just letting the kids run through the neighborhood playing. Times have changed since I was a child who could stay out just about all day riding bikes, running through the woods and creeks, and playing in each others yards. Our parents didn’t really worry about us not making it back home. Now, people get worried when they see children out playing without an adult.
There’s even a mentality that children may miss out on their summer if they have to study or read while on break. But is all this so called free time that is having to be filled with entertainment worth the pain? Once all this celebrated free time is over and it’s time to return to school in the fall, the pain begins. Children struggle to get going in math again. All the gears in their brains have frozen from not being used. My older son told me a couple of years ago after having taken a summer off to try it, “Let’s not ever do that again Mom. It’s way too painful to get back into math.”
If that’s not painful enough there’s the move from an unstructured schedule back to an over structured schedule. Sleeping in every day and eating at leisure turns into jumping out of bed with an alarm after not getting enough hours of sleep to quickly get ready, grab a bite of food and run. And remember, there’s no time for issues. No breakdowns, meltdowns or crying allowed. Do you feel the pain? When my children are struggling or experiencing difficulty, I feel it too. Nothing pains me more than children having to deal with pain that is completely unnecessary.
Whether your children are homeschooling or off from school for the summer, here’s three tips to create a smart summer. Get out your pen and paper so you can take notes on what you can begin implementing today and plan for the rest of the summer. It doesn’t have to stop there, you can continue to plan throughout the rest of the year. It’s all fun and everybody learns more. Here’s the three tips:
Learn to read and find the joy in learning. Reading for enjoyment and learning do not happen on their own. It must be cultivated all throughout a child’s growing years. Rather than trusting that it will happen at school or keeping it as an assignment in your homeschool, make it a part of the educational experiences in your daily life. Keep the reading going throughout the summer. Create a reading goal or a book list to complete before the end of summer. Have goals throughout the list making graduated progress and celebrating. Join in the summer reading program at your local library. Read from a wide variety of books including classics, biographies, history, science, art and how to’s. If you need to keep hands busy, be sure and check out books on how to make things that children can easily learn from and follow as they do it on their own (and with a little help from you.) If you are a parent who works from home and need your children to do something quiet while you work, reading is just the thing! I’m not talking about 8 hours a day but setting up a quiet time for you to work while they read can go from 45 minutes to two hours, depending on the age of the children.
Explore your world. Take time to go to museums, parks and to local events. As you go to these places take your time to really soak them in, spend time drawing pictures while you are there, observe and try new things. Seek out local classes where you can learn something new. Make it more fun by taking classes together as a family or special alone time with mom and child or dad and child. Can you take a day trip or a weekend trip, or even go camping? If Dad and/or Mom work from home maybe you can pack your bags and work from a place at the beach. Then during your time off you can play and explore your new surroundings. And now back to home, maybe you’ve been on the go so much you’d just love to be home. Then take time to go into your child’s world. Be fully present with them whether it’s building with legos or having tea parties with baby dolls and stuffed animals; let them choose what they want to include you in.
Be the change you want to see in your children. The best and most effective way to instill good habits, values and traditions in your children is by modeling it first yourself. Children learn what they live so if they don’t see you reading, writing or love learning then chances are they won’t either. Children need to see you reading actual books which means reading and finishing the books started. Your stack of to read should be decreasing or in perpetual movement with books to read appearing and books read being moved on to the shelves or returned to the library. Make time daily to read together. We like to all gather in the living room in the evening and sit quietly reading our own personal selections. We also take time to read aloud. The whole family enjoys this -it’s not limited to young children. Being read to is a very nurturing practice that we can all benefit from. And quickly you will realize how much you enjoy the stories.
Oh, and by the way, if you want to prevent brain rust regarding math don’t be afraid to make doing a math lesson first thing each morning a regular practice. Yes, even in summer. It doesn’t take that much out of the day and you will be amazed at how a child is positively changed by doing this one practice daily. You will be amazed not only at their advancement in math but also their character. We continue this year round and it has become a lifestyle. Remember, the lifestyle you make creates the life you will live. Design it in the way to bring the results you desire.
Grab your pen and paper and start planning now. Get it on the calendar. Make summer count this year. Have fun creating something fun, educational and memorable!
What are you planning for your summer to make it smart and fun? Share by leaving a comment below.