School is almost out. Summer is approaching in all its glorious heat, pool days, beach trips, late nights around a campfire, and catching lightening bugs! All the good things of summer everyone looks forward to.
With all these good things comes a lot of free time. So, the question every parent asks is: what to do with all the free time? While there are a plethora of camps or vacation bible schools our kids can partake in, most parents still desire to establish a sort of “culture” for the summer. Will it be a culture of relaxation because the school year was difficult? Will it be a culture of hard work as everyone pitches in to do a home repair/remodel project? Or will it be a culture of structured activities, camps, and play dates?
For our family, we have decided to create a culture of service and empathy. We want to expose our children’s hearts to the struggles locally and around the globe. I believe our whole family will benefit from a little reminding of how blessed we are, how much we don’t need, and how we can serve others.
Serving satisfies the soul.
We are going to have a Mission-Led Summer! We will find ways within our regular summer school up-keep and through fun activities that turn into ways to serve our community.
Here are 4 ideas you can implement into your summer to create a similar culture.
Idea One: Read-a-thon!
These are everywhere during the summer so you won’t have to look far for suggested book lists. Here is the twist: create a read-a-thon that includes sponsors and the children earning money for the books they read. The money they raised can go to a local organization for a Back To School backpack drive, school supplies, or even shoe drive.
Find options in your local area and let your kids decide what they want to raise money for! They beef up their reading skills and can use an every day activity to help someone. Use a thermometer graph, chart, or make something so they can see progress.
Challenge yourself at the same time. When is the last book you’ve read? Create a family reading time where everyone reads! Then, match your child’s earnings when the goal is met for everyone!
You could also use this same model with math or foreign language, memorizing facts or vocabulary – whatever works for you child!
Idea Two: Monthly Lemonade Stand.
Encourage your kids to be entrepreneurs! As a kid, did you ever feel like you just didn’t matter? “You’re just a kid, you can’t do big things.”
Our kids can do big things, but they need our help. Take a weekend to build a simple stand and let them raise money for a local organization. See what happens. I have found extra doses of closeness with my kids when we are working towards a common goal.
Idea Three: Find a small mission trip to participate in or create your own.
Our local area (when you’re in Texas anything within 3 hours is semi-local) was hit by huge storms that flooded several cities and many towns. Look for similar needs or seek out ministries and churches involved in local missions families can partake in.
And if you have no success in those areas, perhaps you could take a trip to the beach and pick up trash for a few hours. It doesn’t have to be trendy or well known, it’s the act of serving we aim to teach our children.
Idea Four: Tune out pop culture and focus on memorizing small poems and stories.
If there is one thing, besides reading the great books, I would suggest as parents that we give our children a chance to memorize things that are true, good, and beautiful. I love this poem by Mary Howitt called The Spider and the Fly. Read it and I bet you would tell me that you rather hear your daughter recite it instead of a Nikki Minaj song.
Encourage them to perform little “Shakespeare in the Park” shows in the backyard. This might require neighborhood kids to be apart of the plays/performances. The children could ask for a donation from those attending and could explain that the money raised is going to a local organization.
The ideas are endless! I whole-hardheartedly believe your children are already bursting with ideas, but it takes us as parents to ask and encourage them. They need to have someone in their corner rooting for them.
To neglect your child’s strength is to curse your child. – Andrew Kern.
I believe we parents get frustrated because our kids don’t notice all the things we do for them. Maybe it’s because buying their favorite snacks, carting to and fro sports, and meeting their every need is not what truly nourishes and blesses their souls?
What if cultivating and empowering their creativity, ideas, and benevolence is what will nourish their souls?
What if those same things will nourish ours?
Bravery comes in many different forms during parenting. This summer, I encourage you to join me as we sideline the good things like a big vacation and focus on great things like the creative ways our children can learn to serve.
Summer might look different than how it has in the past, and that’s okay. We are going to teach our children how to be brave.