Ten months of packing lunches, filling backpacks, studying spelling lists, and rushing out the door. An entire school year of unique experiences planted deep within our children, blooming and growing. It was good, tiring, fulfilling and now it is nearly done. What can we do to plan for the summer months ahead that will make the most of the time we are given?
Nearly three months of unstructured time can offer blessings and curses. While the school year has offered needed structure, the summer offers rest. But the elimination of a regular schedule can also be difficult for kids who thrive in their organized days. As parents, we have the opportunity to decide which lessons we feel are important for our children and how we can teach these during the summer months. We can create a balance of downtime and structure that can meet the needs of our kids who need rest and a schedule.
But all of it takes a plan. The time to begin is now. Here are some things to consider:
Summer offers us more time to pour into our kids spiritually. With the absence of strenuous academics, we have moments to sit with our kids sharing devotions, Bible stories, prayer time. Find ways to plan for this before summer even begins! As we look for ways to help our kids to grow deeper into their faith, camp experiences can offer a wonderful way to nudge them forward, to immerse them in an environment set up for this type of nurture. Taking care of our kids spiritually is a year-round practice, but it is also something we can focus on in new ways while the kids are away from school.
Summer offers us more time to explore the specific interests of our children. Do you have a child who adores trains, history books, theater, crafts? During this season, we can find ways to help our kids to expand their knowledge and learn more about their passions. Consider a trip to the library to find resources or a day spent at a local museum to see and experience their interests in new ways. Have your child research and teach the rest of your family about what they have learned. Let them try lessons or classes in a field that interests them! We have no idea where our children are headed in life, but encouraging them to follow those things they enjoy may end up sparking a career.
Summer offers us time to evaluate areas of difficulty for our kids and to offer help. If you have a daughter who struggles with reading, a son who dislikes math, an athlete who can’t shoot that lay-up, a musician who cannot master that piece, summer is just for you! During the months ahead, we can look at the areas that have been hard for our kids and give them the time and attention to improve their skills. How can you use the things they love to help them overcome those areas of struggle? Perhaps your child who adores books is struggling with multiplication. Reinforce successful math experiences with extended reading time or a brand-new book. All kids will not be great at all things, but summer offers us the time to encourage our children to acknowledge their weaknesses and seek proficiency in these areas.
Summer offers us time to unwind.Take that time. In the midst of our planning and our weekends away, in the midst of camping and running through the sprinkler, in the midst of lessons or Christian camp experiences, we need to plan for down time. We need to find ourselves being still with our families and enjoying a quieter pace. If we do not plan for these moments, we may miss them entirely and the wonder of summer will quietly slip away. This is the time to throw a blanket on the grass and watch the clouds sail by. This is the time to have dinner under the stars and watch the skies in wonder. This is the time to walk in nature, spend time in silence, play freely and relax. The structure of school will return soon enough. We need to embrace this season and all the ways it is unique and allow it to offer the rest we will need for the year ahead.
Summer is coming. Let’s think through what we want to experience together and make a plan to use the months ahead to meet those goals as a family. And as September begins and classes start again, we can look back on this time as well-spent and purposeful. We can look back on these weeks and months of rest and restoration as a season that found us learning, growing and relaxing together.
How grateful we will be.
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra
Rev. Deb Koster