Between the school day, homework, extracurricular activities, and time with family, the school year can be a hectic time! As summer approaches, take advantage of the slower pace and do some things that you might not have had the chance to do these past nine months. It is all too easy to fill our summer days to the brim as well, so I encourage to you leave time and space for your children to grow naturally as they engage with the world around them.
Encourage wonder and delight in nature
o 19th century British educator Charlotte Mason says it best, “Never be within doors when you can rightly be without.” She recommended that children be outside upwards of 6 hours a day. That may seem extreme in our day, but let it be an encouragement to you to get outside with your children as much as possible!
o Let your child examine bugs, plant a garden, and take a hike. Don’t worry if they get dirty or a scraped knee, because the benefits of engaging in the world around them far outweigh these downsides. Your child will grow in their creativity and problem solving abilities, plus being outside will aid in physical and mental health as well!
Savor good books
o There is nothing like curling up with a good book! Take your child to the library and let them pick out some titles that look interesting. During the school year, most children have to spend their time reading what is assigned to them, so let them explore areas that are of interest to them.
o Stories take children to new places, let them experience new things, and proper books help children to love what is lovely and to learn from other’s mistakes. If you need some great book recommendations, check out our booklists! They are broken down by grade.
o Don’t just leave reading to your children, though! Set a great example and nourish your own soul by picking out a book to read yourself. Maybe even find a book to read out loud as a family. Children are never too old to be read to! You will create great memories and a shared family culture that will stick with your children for the years to come.
o After the newness of summer break wears off, a chorus of children complaining “I’m bored!” begins. Help your children to turn their focus off of themselves by serving others. Perhaps you have an elderly neighbor or family member that could use yardwork done or would just like someone to visit with. Do you know of a family who had a new baby or a young mother who could use help around the house? Help your child to see the needs of others and to think of how they can serve them!
o Helping others can teach children to be grateful, content, and compassionate. Be spurred on by Galatians 5:13-14, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Do hard things
o We live in a culture of convenience. While many of these conveniences are helpful and appreciated, getting everything you want right away is not beneficial to us as human beings. When everything is provided to children on demand, they are much more likely to give up when they hit a roadblock or don’t get immediate results in what they are doing. Help your child to grow in perseverance, determination, and creativity by doing hard things. Let your child have the opportunity to feel the sense of accomplishment that comes after doing something difficult. As parents, it is so tempting to step in to solve our children’s problems, but this does not serve them in the long run. Challenge your children this summer with difficult physical and mental tasks that will leave them with a newfound confidence and skillset that will aid them in future tasks (including next year’s schoolwork!)
I hope you are looking forward to this summer break. I encourage you to embrace the change of pace and enjoy this time with your children. Put before them a spread of beautiful things to savor, and grow with them in your appreciation for all that is true, good, and beautiful.