Is it just my family, or does anyone else notice that when summer vacation starts, kids gravitate to computers and television? I’d love to say that our first week of vacation was a productive time for my kids to delve into their interests and pursue learning. Not so much. Instead, favorite TV shows, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube pull us like magnets.
A whirlwind visit home from Turkey means we’re spending summer on the road: New York, Texas, El Salvador, Washington D.C., and South Carolina. I have to be careful not to let my kids slide between the cracks while we travel. Left to our own natural tendencies, my family will spend every minute of downtime we have plugged into computers and iPods.
This year, I decided to get proactive and come up with a plan to help my kids (and myself) have a better summer.
I insist on encourage no internet use until after lunch every day. We also set a time to unplug each evening. Another alternative is setting a time-limit on internet use, but that’s harder to monitor.
During the school year, we worked through Greenleaf’s Guide to Old Testament History. Each family member read the day’s passage, and after breakfast we discussed the questions. This summer we’ll use Navigators’ 5x5x5 New Testament Reading Plan, and everyone will share their favorite verse at breakfast.
Ask your kids what creative pursuits they’d like to try. Make a trip to your local hobby store and provide supplies to hobbyists or artists in residence. Have each family member try writing a short story. Learn to cook new things together.
Challenge your kids to exercise by taking a class, playing a sport, or going to the pool. Try an exercise DVD in the living room or a family walk in the evenings after dinner.
Encourage kids to learn something new. Check out classes on-line, at your local community center, or community college. Join the summer reading program at your local library; many provide fun weekly activities. With our family on the road this summer, my plan is simpler: challenge my kids to read one hour each day.
Get to Work
Let your kids learn life skills through a summer job or chores around the house. Assign each child a night to cook dinner. Let them do laundry, vacuum, and clean the bathroom. They may not love it, but why should you slave away doing all the household chores while your kids veg in front of the TV? If you’re like me, that’ll give you a martyr complex faster than anything!
Go for Family Fun
Talk with your family about what they’d like to do. Visit local museums. Take a day trip. Go to the ice cream shop. Have a movie night or play a game. Do something together for fun at least once a week.
When I shared these ideas with my kids, my daughter said, “Mom, every year you get on this same bandwagon, and it lasts about two weeks.” She’s right. So I’m crossing my fingers, sending up prayers, and hoping I can go the distance this summer, especially regarding internet use.
What are your summer plans? Any other ideas for helping kids make the most of summer?