There’s no denying that there is a certain rhythm and reliability that the schedule of the school year brings that seems difficult for us to find during the months of summer. I love the order and routine of the Fall days. We wake up early, get the chores done and jump into a day of learning and lessons that make me, as the mom, feel most productive in the work of rearing my children. Summer can be a struggle with its open-endedness, care-free days, sleepovers, late nights and lack of routine. We can fill it up with camps and VBS but there are still times of leisure and I want my children to learn how to manage those times as well. In the last post, we asked the question, “How does a virtuous man spend his leisure time well?”
Has your summer fallen into a rhythm yet? Is there a sort of summer schedule your family has established? When we asked our children at the beginning of summer the question “How does a virtuous man spend his leisure time?” William and I shared our own answers first. William led out by saying that the “free days” of summer should still be used constructively. Would you agree?
My answer was that the focus of our summer should mirror the school year in that we still pursue only what is true, good and beautiful. This mirrors the idea in Phillipians 4:8 where Paul exhorts us as a parent almost with the admonition to think on only what is true, noble, admirable and lovely, etc. Combining these two ideas, we gave the kids 10 minutes to write out ideas for spending their summer days constructively in the pursuit of truth, goodness and beauty. We gave them three categories- spiritual, physical and mental. Here were a few responses:
Spiritual- to create a worship cd of 15 favorite songs and listen to it regularly, go through daily devotional book with Daddy, increase my devotion time and make a worship cd
Physical- practice karate routine each day, go for a bike ride when I’m bored instead of TV, build a tree fort outside
Intellectual- learn a new Spanish word daily, practice piano book once a day, explore ocean animals and learn about new ones
These focuses, once written down, can easily be turned into daily habits to be pursued during the summer days. They challenge and grow us. They become our rituals and liturgies that help continue to develop us an individuals and believers even when school is not in session. The school of Life and Parenting never closes its doors! As a family, I set a few easily attainable summer lessons as well.
Here’s a few ideas that we are pursuing:
1.Memorize the 66 books of the Bible- There are roughly sixty six days to a summer so there is time to learn a book a day. We are using a neat tool published by Walk Thru the Bible that names the Bible book and gives a key word so that we learn a little of what the book is about.
2.14 days of dares- I saw this idea on Pinterest and tweaked it for my own kids. Over the summer you come up with 14 different dares. You can list them all at once or give them out every few days. Included in the dares are things you want your kids to do, learn/accomplish but you know that may not pursue them on their own. So….you “dare” them and the reward is whatever you choose. If they complete the dare we give out a glass bottled coke, a box of Poptarts, or a pack of sour patch gum (or any other treats we always seem to be saying “no” to in the grocery store!!) You can pick what works for your kids. The dares consist of things like:
Write a thank you note to someone
Clean out the dishwasher without being asked
Spend 30 minutes reading today
Copy down a scripture verse and illustrate it for your commonplace book, etc……..
I am sure you will come up with even better ideas than these and I would love to hear about them! Have your kids make a list of Summer Virtues for themselves. Ask the question: If a man’s character is shaped by how he spends his free time, what are activities we should do in our free time? Have them list their own so they may be more inclined to follow them. So…when they ask to watch The Lego Movie or play the Wii for the tenth time in the middle of the day, we have a plan and can say, “Have you checked your summer virtue list?” and we are directing them in a way to spend their time with a little more intentionality and thought. Sometimes we grab the Wii remote and join them or pile up and watch the movie anyway and the building of relationship and spending time together makes summer feel pretty virtuous after all.