School is out! Summer is here, and the typical parent is nowhere near as happy about the idea as most children... or teachers, for that matter! You see, children at a loose end plus parents without a plan is a certain recipe for trouble, and the stretch of weeks before us can, if not organized carefully, set up a lot of grief for families, and that is the last thing that most of us need.
Just because something is potentially troublesome does not mean that it necessarily has to be. Fact is, "The Summer Stretch" provides an otherwise unavailable opportunity for families - no matter what their structure or composition - to solidify relationships and consolidate learning. All it takes is a little planning. Projects, chores, reading lists, parks, trails, trips, cultural stuff like museums and galleries: the list is endless. Giving our children an opportunity to show responsibility by being a part of both the planning and the implementation can pay off big dividends in terms of ownership and empowerment.
Obviously parents' work schedules are a big factor in designing summer activities, but the bottom line is that we simply must make the time to teach our kids while we have the chance. These years are such a small window of opportunity in the great sum of our lives, and there is no way to replace our deliberate and creative involvement no matter how hard it is to arrange. Family trips that require research and arranging have always been a boon to our family. One year it was an ambitious Civil War battlefield tour that involved movies ahead of time, trips to the library, and biking around places like Shiloh and Vicksburg. Another summer we had to limit ourselves to a series of day trips to museums and parks and forts within range of our home.
Our children are so much more imaginative and original than the standard diet of TV and video games gives them credit for. Don't insult their intelligence by settling for one more summer of vegetating brains and troublesome family relations. Listen to the words of Jesus: "I came that they might have life, in all of its abundance."
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