A couple of people have asked me to post this. I hesitate for fear of people thinking I’m a parenting expert in any way. THAT IS NOT THE CASE. At. All.
However, I have tried various ways to keep my teens active, learning, helpful, and growing over the summer. About four years ago, I came up with this plan, and it stuck.
Enough set-up. Here’s what we do. Not perfectly. Not without grumbling. But it seems to keep us out of trouble…
Right when school lets out, I put this chart on our refrigerator with a post-it counting down the days until the summer plan goes into effect.
I learned (the hard way) it’s better to give everyone a few days of nothingness to allow some transition time. During this nothingness period, they stay in their pajamas until noon, do as little as possible, and watch TV until their eyes bug out. I smile, grit my teeth, and count down the days…
Until the countdown is over and they must work down this list of “F Words” every week day…
1) Faith (choose one every day)-
- Read devotional
- Memorize scripture
- Daily Bible Reading Plan
- Listen to Daily Audio Bible
This list seems to change a bit each summer, but this is what we are doing this year.
2) Fitness (choose one every day)-
- Swim Team Practice (if we have swim team practice, they must go. But on “off” days or when the season ends they choose from other things on the list)
- Workout Video
- Workout Stations for 10 min each – treadmill, weights, core
- Ride bike for 30 mins
- Walk 30 mins
- Jog 15 mins
When my kids were little, I never had to worry about this category. But now that they are older, I’ve noticed that they can easily develop some bad habits and become pretty sedentary. So this is a fairly new addition to our list.
3) Family- (see the chalkboard for the “chore of the day”)-
This section is designed to train them to be contributing members of our family. HA! I’ve done this so many different ways, from having pre-set chore charts for each day of the week to having each child be responsible for one area of the house. Many things work, but nothing is fun or easy. This year, I’m going to write whatever area needs attention on our kitchen chalkboard. Wish me luck.
4) Future School Year –
- Read at least four books this summer (Mom approved)
- District reading plan every day
- TenMarks Math (Tu, W, Th)
I know. This name is a stretch for the “F” theme, but whatever… The idea is to be preparing for success in their next grade in school. Our school district has an online reading program where the kids read USA Today articles and answer questions for prizes. Thank you, school district! And I can’t say enough about the TenMarks Math Program. It’s low-maintenance, high-quality and free! Check it out!
5) Friends –
- Text, email, or call a friend
- Pray for a friend
- Plan a get-together at least twice a month.
This was a late addition to our list, also. I hope it teaches them them to foster their relationships and learn to reach out to others.
Now here’s the million dollar question: How do I hold them accountable? Well, I’ve tried it all, but what seems to work best for our family is to set a 5pm deadline. All “F’s” must be done before then. Then, while I’m cooking dinner- or sometime in the late afternoon, I do random spot-checks on the chores. I don’t check every one, but they never know what I’ll check and what I won’t. I’m pretty picky, and I make them re-do chores pretty much.
The online math and reading programs check themselves (hallelujah), and at dinner, my husband or I randomly ask the kids to share what they did for other categories. For example, “So, Josh, what did you do for fitness today?” We don’t make it a big deal. Sometimes we skip the asking. They probably get away with a few things, so sue me.
I just don’t have the time, energy, or even the desire to check up on them constantly. The point is for them to feel an expectation to be good stewards of their whole self: mind, body, and soul.
And if they don’t?…
My kids know their FUN directly corresponds to their participation in the other “F’s” on the list. Their cell phones, social outings, and spending money are all tied to how well they are budgeting their time and taking care of themselves and their family. If we notice that they aren’t invested, then good-bye fun…
So, now you know why my kids have nicknamed this program the “Effin’ Summer Chart”. That’s NOT appropriate, kids… but kinda funny. 🙂
Oh, and did I mention that I have awesome kids?