The following post is from Jennifer, a lifelong educator:
Most students are in countdown mode: they know exactly how many days are left until summer. Children and teens everywhere envision sleeping in, lazing by the pool, and playing with friends. All of those things are appropriate – when balanced with the realities of responsibility.
What is this teacher’s plea? Please don’t coddle your children this summer! Too many children are not required to exert themselves, either physically or mentally, for weeks or months. They return to school in the fall with a bad attitude. They resent the demands that a rigid schedule and tough curriculum require. Days of precious instructional time are wasted as teachers try – sometimes unsuccessfully – to get students back up to speed and into the mode of learning.
I agree that summer’s a great time to make memories and explore new areas. Kicking back and simply enjoying each other’s company can enhance family relationships. In addition to that, though, I encourage you to also give great thought to the amount of freedom you give your children during their break from the school routine. We convey a lot about our values by how we allow our kids to spend their time.
Please remember that hard work molds minds as well as character. Requiring your children to complete their chores before playing teaches responsibility. Limiting screen time teaches self-control. Expecting a daily period of meaningful reading communicates that learning is a priority. Insisting on exercise teaches good health habits as well as self-discipline.
When you raise the bar and expect more from your children than maybe you have in the past, you can expect resistance. Remind yourself that your goal is not to be your child’s best friend at this point in their lives – you are their trainer and coach. Kids aren’t truly ready for the freedoms of adulthood (making their own decisions about how they spend their time) until they’ve mastered the ability to handle the accompanying responsibilities.
Your kids probably won’t thank you for putting tighter parameters around them this summer. But your child’s teachers will see that your kids are head and shoulders above those who aren’t held to a higher standard. When your kids are grown, they’ll realize it, too!
How do you feel about expecting more from your kids this summer? How do your memories of summers as a child impact the expectations you have for your children?
|Jennifer is passionate about children and education. She homeschooled her two sons for five years, established and directed a Christian school in Maryland for 20 years, and currently teaches in a public school in a Chicago suburb. She loves investing in relationships and delights in every moment that she spends with her family.|