Summer is a time for children to have new experiences and develop character. I love that summer gives us time for my kids to try new things. Sometimes my kids succeed and sometimes they fail. Our oldest daughter was 5 when a friend told us about the city swim team. My wife and I had very little knowledge about swimming, but we knew our daughter loved to swim so we signed her up. Over the past six years, all three of our girls have participated in summer swim teams. I love what it has fostered in my children. Summer swimming taught goal setting, the art of practice, humility, establishing healthy habits, mental toughness, and courage. My oldest loved swimming and would record her times tracking progress toward her goals. Our middle daughter was a great swimmer, but feared people watching her swim. She had to overcome this fear. It took a lot of patience shepherding her through it. This was a life lesson for me as much as it was for her. Our youngest daughter loved getting in the water and being with her friends, yet hated how long and how early practice was (Yikes! Monday through Friday at 6:30 a.m.). Swimming taught her how to establish good routines that would help her during the school year and hopefully the rest of her life. Swimming is the avenue we choose in the summer to build character qualities in our children, but I believe there are so many opportunities like these for kids to try in the summer. Think through what works for your family, and use the summer to work towards a character building goal.
Learn Something New: There Are Resources All Around You
Summer is a time to learn new things. I spent 9 years as a high school football coach before getting into real estate development. These are two very different career paths. I had to teach myself a very different set of skills along the way. I know how to be resourceful and all that started when I was a kid. As I am raising my kids, I want them to be resourceful and be able to “figure it out themselves.” Each summer my girls set a goal to learn something new that interests them. For instance, last summer my girls wanted to learn how to play the drums. I play the drums, so we already have a drum set in our house. Under my wife’s supervision, the girls watched YouTube beginning drum lessons and practiced during the summer. The objective was to be able to play several basic drum beats by the end of the summer. My wife even learned a few drum beats herself. This summer the girls will be teaching themselves to knit a blanket, play a song on the ukulele, and bake and decorate a “fancy” cake. The rule is when you learn something new, you must share your newfound knowledge with others.
Stop, Reflect and Grow: Remember What the Lord has Done
Even though summer is not an excuse to check out for 3 months, it is a time to stop, reflect and grow. Each of our girls have a Bible and have carefully selected their own journals and devotionals. They each have their own special spots both inside and outside around the house. These are tools they will use as they spend thirty minutes a day in silence and pursuit of the Lord. It is in these moments they will connect the dots of life. It is critical our children understand their identities in Christ. There is no better way to understand this than to intentionally take time to be still and hear the Lord.
Gain a New Perspective: The World is a Big Place
Summer provides a great opportunity to travel and learn about different cultures. There are opportunities to expose our children to culture everywhere. We can travel around DFW to find it or travel the globe. We travel in the summer to visit family and friends in Hawaii where I was born. In the airport, I always stand back a little bit and let my kids find the gate and navigate the airport to prepare for the time when they will travel alone. This summer we are sending our oldest to a native Hawaiian camp to learn about her Hawaiian heritage. She will learn about the language, foods, the arts, ocean and water safety, agriculture, and navigating by the stars. One of the things she will face is the Hawaiian culture has polytheistic beliefs. She will be rooming with incoming 6th grade girls from all over the world with varying beliefs about God and the world we live in. I appreciate that with the partnership with our school and church she is ready to be exposed to these new ideas and to filter it through a biblical worldview. Whether you are staying in town, flying around the globe, or driving cross-country, expose your kids to culture this summer.
Have Fun: These Memories Will Last a Lifetime
I think about my childhood often. I remember the summers and the long days and late nights of 1-on-1 basketball, boxing matches, home-run derby, adventures and fort building in the woods. I remember the times I spent with my dear friends who became like brothers to me skateboarding, building half-pipe ramps and endless swimming at our apartment complex pool.
We live on a street with 5 other families who have multiple daughters ranging close in age. This group of misfits are inseparable. During the year they all go to different schools, but summer provides a time for all of them to play together. I look forward to coming home this summer and knowing where all the kids are based on the mounds of bicycles piled outside one of our lucky houses. Summer gives my kids the open time to spend all day with friends where they learn how to work together, build things, be creative, solve problems, and serve one another.
One of my favorite quotes is, “Failure to plan is planning to fail.” This is our plan for the summer. I hope this will help you make a plan for what you want your kids to write about when asked “What I Did Last Summer.”