Make This Summer With Your Kids Count

kids togetherAh, summer. For many of us, the word is synonymous with any number of good things: long, sundrenched days, vacations, going to the pool, the smell of freshly cut grass, baseball, etc. But the summer months also offer a great chance for parents to help their kids grow and develop in an intentional manner. Toward that end, my wife Rachel—who does a great job thinking this through for our own three kids—weighs in with today’s guest post. As you read, keep in mind that each family’s goals will be different given all the variables, including the age of kids, work responsibilities, summer school, etc. And remember that reality sometimes falls short of even the best intentions. It’s a lesson we’re taught regularly at our house!

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I love the idea of using summertime with my kids in a way that makes a lasting impact. But when it comes to parenting, if we don’t have some goals in mind for our kids–whether long-term or short-term–it’s easy to lose sight of where we are going. It’s easy to waste the precious little time we have with these young souls in our charge. (I’m speaking from a “guilty as charged” place myself!) That’s why it’s helpful to think through some specific goals for our summer with our children. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years about that process.

Ask Yourself Big Picture Questions

This summer think about developing your child as a whole person: spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Start by praying for wisdom (James 1:5) about what your children need and for God to guide your goal-making process. Then ask yourself some of these questions as you develop summer goals:

  • If you could see your child grow in one or two particular areas, what would those be?
  • What is one or two routines you’d like your family to learn? (For instance: reading the Bible, doing chores around the house, establishing reading time, learning to swim, etc.)
  • What is a new experience or activity you could try?
  • What books would you like to read to your children?

Narrow Down Your Goals

One thing to keep in mind is not to have too many goals, otherwise you’re likely to get discouraged and not follow through. Plus, having too many goals can lead to too many activities and not enough flexible time. We need to leave time for our kids to play and use their imaginations on their own, as well as for spontaneous teaching moments, times of discipline, sick kids, and the other inevitable but oh-so-important “non-planned for” events of the day.

Make Measurable Goals

It’s also helpful to make your summer goals concrete and measurable. You should be able to answer periodically throughout or at the end of the summer whether or not you made progress toward each goal. In fact, last summer I posted our goals on the fridge and periodically asked the kids how they thought they were progressing.

A field trip with friends to a local farm.

Example: Summer 2015 Goals for My Kids

Every family is completely different when it comes to our children’s needs and what you as a parent are gifted at doing. We usually have some general goals for everyone and then a few specific individual goals (i.e. learn how to ride a bike, etc). But, just to give you an example, some of our general goals for our children (ages 4, 6, and 8) are:

  • Complete age-appropriate daily chores M-F.
  • Read independently (I will read aloud to the non-reader) for 30 minutes most mornings M-F.
  • Create a summer blog (for older children) and journal (for younger), writing for 10 minutes most mornings M-F.
  • Read and discuss Little Pilgrim’s Progress before bed. This will be part of our Family Devotion time each night before bedtime. (Note: Each family who attends Kids Club 2015 will get a free copy and reading guide!)
  • Be exposed to new learning experiences each week. We will designate one morning a week for a local field trip with another family.
  • Serve others together. I’d like one or two of our field trips to be service projects that we can do together.
  • Improve swimming skills by completing a session of swim lessons and joining a local pool.

Now the next and perhaps hardest step is figuring out how to implement these goals! For several ideas for making your goals a reality, read my full post on Leaving a Legacy.

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