Like a long awaited prize, summer is finally here. Children are delighted, freed from school, the daylight hours beckon them to come and play. Bicycles, balls, and books fill hours previously spent in class.
But summer fun is fleeting. Boredom lurks and before long finds its way into the schedule.
“I’m bored,” children start to say after the first two weeks of summer play.
Like me, you’ve probably used the line, “If your bored, I have some chores for you to do.”
Kids need free play time; time for the imagination to work and run. But they also need our help in order to add structure and productivity to otherwise wasted hours.
A few years ago I invented what I call the Don’t Waste Your Summer program for our household. This was born from my desire to teach my children to use time wisely. Large blocks of time, especially during summer, can be filled with fun and memories, but they can also be filled with hours of mindless entertainment or frivolous activities.
We are about to begin our fourth year of the Don’t Waste Your Summer program. The first year my family memorized a poem called Carry On by Robert Service. No great theology here, just a fun poem to memorize. I read a book to the family that summer in which the poem figured prominently. It was a true story that highlighted the character trait of persistence. For a while after memorizing this poem, we had fun telling each other to “carry on” when something was difficult.
The second year we memorized the small children’s catechism. I read this into a voice recorder and then transferred it to a cd so that the children could listen as they went to bed. This material gave us much to discuss for family devotions that summer. We may do the catechism again in the near future. The younger children don’t remember it, and the older children (and adults) will also benefit.
The third year we learned a short poem called Somebody Said It Couldn’t Be Done by Edgar Guest. The poem is a little corny but the central idea of the poem is an important one. We quoted from it for many months whenever someone in the family complained about a thing being too hard.
“I can’t do it. It’s too hard,” would be followed by one or more family members in unison, “Somebody said it couldn’t be done, but he with a chuckle replied.”
The next summer came and went before I came up with an idea. This summer we will be memorizing two poems – The Road not Taken by Robert Frost and A Psalm of Life by Henry Longfellow.
I endeavor to make this a fun activity and reward the children after everyone has completed the task. The rewards vary from going out for ice cream to receiving gift cards to their favorite stores. Nothing too extravagant; the greatest reward is in completing the task and learning something new.
Along with this program, my wife enrolls the children in as many summer reading programs as possible. The library has a summer reading program and some booksellers do as well. Because we emphasize reading in our home, and enrollment in reading programs being a summer habit, my children invest a lot of time with books over a given summer.
Other than memorizing and reading, summer is a good time for extra chores. Some chores only get done seasonally and children with time and energy can be put to use effectively to tackle a summer chore list.
So, there you have it – several ways to not waste your kid’s summer.