As end of school busyness ramps up to a frenzied pace, it’s hard to imagine that the lazier, slower days of summer are just a few weeks away. One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to be more intentional in my parenting, and I’m looking forward to the slower pace of summer to implement that resolution even more deliberately. I find it is sometimes so easy to get caught up in the activity of life as my children and I run from one event or task to the next that taking the time to mindfully consider the goals I want to create or the character traits that I want to cultivate in my children get lost in the shuffle of everyday living. This summer my goal is to create an environment of intentionality in my parenting that hopefully fosters a culture of education, where I continue to model for my children that learning is both a lifestyle and a lifelong endeavor.
I am a firm believer that I am the one who is ultimately responsible for my children’s education. In partnership with whatever schooling method chosen, I think parents set the tone for their children’s attitudes about learning and education. As a professional educator, it is my desire not just to assist parents in the education of their children but also to encourage and help empower parents with the tools to create a culture of leaning in their homes. Summer provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate for our children a lifestyle of learning. So my hope is to not only encourage and empower but to challenge you to find ways to incorporate learning into your summer activities. If we want out children to see learning as a lifestyle then we must work to create a culture of learning in our homes, and this is not just for homeschooling families. Any family who places a premium on education can participate in these activities. Keep in mind, our children will definitely pay closer attention to what we do rather than what we say.
Participate in Summer Reading as A Family
One of the easiest and best ways to create a culture of learning in your home this summer is to participate in your library’s summer reading program. Parents, too! What better way to model the importance of reading to your children than to read with them. I always participate in summer reading with my kids, even competing with them to see who can read the most pages. Most libraries offer also offer prizes for adults. Last year, I earned a certificate to Climb Nashville and the Country Music Hall of Fame, which provided free, engaging activities for both my children and me. Don’t underestimate the value of reading aloud as a family. Begin now making a list of books you enjoyed as a child that you would like to share with your children, and don’t worry about the age. If you still love Charlotte’s Web as an adult chances are your child will, as well. My family has set a goal to read To Kill A Mockingbird as a family this summer. My husband is reading the Hunger Games and Divergent series aloud to my daughter, and I plan to read classic tales like Robinson Crusoe and The Three Musketeers to my son. Few things bond a family like reading aloud. Not sure what to read? Most libraries have a booklist divided by ages and interests. Email your child’s teacher and get a head start on books she’ll be reading in the coming school year. Or visit this post for ideas:https://julieannajohnson.com/2018/05/15/summer-reading/
Evaluate Where You Spend Your Time
I hear you loud and clear! These ideas sound nice, but I just don’t have the time to read an entire book to my child much less to myself. According to the New York Times, the average American spends 2.8 hours a day watching television and 50 minutes a day scrolling Facebook. That’s almost one hour a day on Facebook! I’m not being critical. I’m right there with you. There’s a handy, eye-opening, convicting weekly report my phone sends me that reports, tattles really, the exact amount of time I spend daily on my phone. Y’all, it’s appalling and what’s worse, it is mindless and unintentional. Now, I keep a book in pretty much every corner of my house. When the urge to scroll strikes, I grab a book instead. If I’m near my kids, we take a five minute time out and read just one chapter from a book or a few pages of a devotional. I challenge you in a “you go, girl; you’ve got this” way to become more mindful of time wasters and create strategies to build in intentional activities that feed your spirit and that of your family. I was amazed to find how much time I had when I truly began to keep a tab of the time I wasted.
Pursue a Hobby or Passion
When I was working on my Masters degree in Education, I learned about a concept called “Modeling.” Modeling is where you demonstrate the skill you wish for your students to learn. I use this often when I’m teaching reading strategies. One of my daily prayers for my children is that they will recognize and pursue the passion that God has placed into their heart. Let me ask you a question. When was the last time you thought about your passions? What makes your heart race? If you could pursue anything: a career, a ministry, a hobby, what would it be and what is holding you back? If we expect our children to pursue their God-given passions then I think we need to model the pursuit of our own. Just because we are mamas and daddies or financially strapped or busy beyond belief, it doesn’t mean we can’t rekindle the ember that fuels our soul and fan it into a flame. What a gift for our children to see their parents pursuing a dream.
I wanted to open my own tutoring business but knew I needed to be able to tutor math. Y’all, I’m a language arts teacher whose dream it is to live in a library. Seriously, I’ve always wanted to just live in the library, so learning math well enough to teach it was a daunting task. The summer before I launched my business I borrowed an Algebra book, a Geometry book, and an Algebra II book, and after I put my kids to bed, I studied math. I’d work problem after problem until I gained confidence. Now I love math almost as much as literature. Another dream of mine is to one day attend seminary. In the meantime, I have been called into the role of Teaching Director at my local Community Bible Study, where I get to study scripture in depth every week. My children get to see me pursue my dreams even as an adult. Not sure what your passions are? Pray. Ask God to reveal to you your gifts and talents and passions. Go to the library and check out books. Take a class. Most junior colleges offer inexpensive evening classes on everything from photography to gardening. Take a class with your children. The possibilities are endless. Don’t stop pursuing a lifestyle of learning just because you’ve received your diploma. Learning should be a lifelong pursuit. Inspire your children!
Head Up Your Own Summer School
What?! No, really. Think of ways you can incorporate learning into your home a few hours each week this summer. Don’t be intimidated by subjects that weren’t your specialty in school. Find a tutor willing to teach a math class in your dining room for an hour each week and gather some children of friends and host a remedial class. KiwiCrate and Little Passports offer science and engineering kits with all the materials included. Plant a garden. Visit the zoo. Attend a class at the library. Browse Pinterest for ideas. I have an entire board dedicated to arts and crafts and projects for middle schoolers. I can imagine no greater summer travesty than to allow our kids to sit in front of a game console all day playing video games. I fight this battle at my house daily. If we plan now, we can create a lifestyle of learning in our homes that becomes a part of our family culture for life.