Some summer vacations stretch endlessly with kids sleeping late and wandering around finding interesting things to do. Others seem to be more strictly scheduled than the school year. What is the goal?
Goal? For summer vacation? Am I nuts? Maybe. But why wait until they are long grown to help our kids use blocks of unstructured time to explore new ideas and activities.
There’s the “phew! I can be lazy” approach to vacation and that certainly has some value. But teaching our kids to be life-long learners begins with letting them know that they can choose to learn about things that aren’t in anybody’s lesson plan.
Why not help them by asking what they’d like to learn about in the next few weeks; often people want to accomplish something, but they don’t know how to start or what to do next.
Start by helping them get a good, clear picture of what it is they want to accomplish. Are they going to build or read or write something? Plan a trip? Improve a skill?
They can develop that picture by making a picture or vision board or writing about it. Different methods work for different people. Next of course, is starting to look at the steps that they would need to take to achieve their goal and to figure out what comes first — another great discussion!
Then comes the hard part for most parents — ask about and support the effort without taking over and ‘taking it away’ from them. If you can do that, you will have given your kids a wonderful gift — the ability to decide about and create something on their own. How’s that for confidence and self-esteem???
Motivation is key. If the kids are not motivated then they tend to not have a reason to do anything, which can lead to doing negative things. My frien has two beautiful intelligent kids, but the boy who will soon be 18 isn’t motivated and has flunked school. He want’s for nothing, lives in an apartment within his mothers mansion, and she wonders why he doesn’t want to do anything? He has maids, 3 gardeners and has been brought up wrapped in cotton wool with a silver spoon in his mouth. I did tell her she is doing more damage than good. What can she do at this stage?
This makes me very sad… it’s one of the reasons I try to reach out to parents and talk about the value of teaching their kids about goal attainment and struggle when they’re still young.
I share your concern and, in the absence of a crisis, wonder how it will change. I wonder if there is someone he would like to help. Who and what does he care about? It sounds like getting involved in making someone else’s life better would be an incredible gift to him.
Oh good! I’m not a whacko for asking my son what his summer goals are! Woohoo!
I couldn’t agree more that kids need to be guided toward some level of productivity beyond academics. For me, summer is the perfect opportunity to accomplish this. Whether it is a personal goal, hobby, community service etc. Growth of some sort must take place. And it just so happens that while I tap at the keyboard, my son is ironing the entire family’s laundry to help pay toward next summer’s school trip to France! He’s learning the art of domesticity… and I have more time to write heartfelt comments!
hmmmm….. ironing. Wish I’d thought of that!