I can attest to the fact that while raising my son, our fall schedule was hectic, to say the least. In addition to the schedule, we had to factor in inclement weather which means additional clothing to wear outside, but to carry with us for extracurricular sports and other activities.
Whether your schedule is just as hectic in the summer as in the winter, one thing is for sure, many of us view summer as a merited occasion. However, I implore parents to not get so caught up that you lose sight of keeping your children focused as well as alert. I have provided some helpful tips that worked for my family and I pray that they yield the same positive results for your family.
1. Set aside time at least once per week where the family reads together. Although you all may read separate books, this is time to bond and afterward share in a discussion about the books that each person in the family has read. Not only does this encourage reading within each child, but it opens up the atmosphere for dialogue. Today’s youth have so much to contend with that it behooves parents to develop creative ways in which to get their children to open up.
2. Make sure that once per day, the family shares a meal together. During meal time all phones need to be turned off, no television, radio, company, etc. strictly family time. This also serves as an excellent manner in which to get children to open up about feelings, peers, school, etc. and parents have the opportunity to implement subtle discipline. WARNING: children may reveal some things that you were not expecting to hear, so be prepared. Deuteronomy 6:7 – and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when hou liest down, and when thou risest up.
3. Include children, regardless of age, in the planning of daycations, vacations, staycations, etc. Whenever everyone feels as if they have a voice, all parties are willing to compromise with others. Additionally, you make your children feel as if they are an important part of the family structure and that their input is valuable. This helps to build a healthy self-esteem and helps to cease them from feeling the need to seek wanting to “fit it” in outside groups/gangs. Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
4. Just before the Labor Day weekend, slowly integrate the fall schedule so that you will not have so much resistance once school begins. An example might be to implement the curfews first. Ephesians 6:4 and, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath; but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
5. While traveling by car use that as a teachable moment by playing fun games that keep children’s brains functioning. For example, have each person in the car look at the letters on the license plates of moving vehicles and try to spell words from them by using at least two of the three letters on each plate without repeating a word. This increases their vocabulary and teaches them letter recognition. You might want to add the amount of time in which they have to create each word to increase the fun.
6. Instead of cooking out in the backyard all of the time, pack your things and go to a local park and cook out. Have your children invite a few friends. Here’s the tricky part - there is always at least one friend that parents despise their children being around - that’s the friend to invite to some of the outings. Here’s why: (1) you then get to control the environment of that child while in your child’s company, (2) you get to instill your Christian values within that child and have a greater chance of pulling him/her into your beliefs without being pushy because they’ll see that Christians are wholesome, normal, cool, and fun, & (3) your child now gets to see their friend in a different light and can begin to make his/her own assessment. Treat them with Christian kindness and you will find that your children and their friends will see your home as the “go to” space many times and you worry less because you know of your children’s whereabouts.
Remember the key is to raise healthy children who possess great Christian values. Therefore, it is incumbent upon parents to become active participants within the lives of their children otherwise other influences will take hold. Enjoy your summer, however, be strategic and wise as wisdom seeking is Godly.
Note: Bible verses are from the King James Version (KJV).