to Summer Plans
By Barrington H. Brennen, April 17, 2013
Barrington H. Brennen
Summer vacation can be an exciting time for students and
yet most challenging for parents. It will provide about
2100 hours (90 days) free of structured academic
programs for students. I want to caution parents not to
consider summer break a time of freedom for their
children but instead another opportunity for learning
and growth. The truth is that many toddlers and
teenagers learn their most negative skills and habits
during the summer months. Parents, you are to be
proactive by planning ahead of time what will happen
when your children go “back to summer vacation.” Here
are ten suggestions for “back to summer vacation” with
Long before summer vacation begins, sit down with
your children and design plans or activities to keep
them active, energized, mentally alert, and socially
healthy. Write down your plans.
As far as possible, depending on the age of your
children, require that they make some money during
the summer to go toward their personal projects or
personal items that you will not purchase.
Insist that out of the 2100 hours they work at least 200
hours in a way that will bring an income.
Make it a point this summer to teach your children a
skill. For example, cooking, baking, sewing,
gardening, painting, etc. All of these suggestions
include both boys and girls. The girls and boys should
be able to at least replace a button on a blouse or
shirt, hem pants, wash clothes with and without the
washing machine, iron, and make breakfast. Enroll them
in one of the youth organizations such as the
Pathfinders, Scouts, Boys or Girls Brigade, Awana, etc.
Make it a goal to learn something new this summer.
Let the entire family think of a project to do. It
could be learning everything about a country, how
something is made, mastering graphic design, making
straw baskets, etc. A great idea is to teach the
children the basic parts of the automobile engine
(battery, carburetor, radiator, etc) and how to change a
tire, and how to change car oil, brake fluid, and power
steering fluid. They can learn these things long before
they are able to drive.
Have structured sleeping and television viewing
hours. A big mistake parents make during the
summer months is not to provide a structured environment
for their children, even for the teenagers. Children
should not be allowed to choose their own times to go to
bed or watch any amount of television. Too many
children develop bad habits during the summer months
that impact them for the rest of their lives. Read my
previous articles on television on my website
Make sure there is at least one day a week for
“television black-out time.” This means parents and
children will not watch television or videos on any
gadget on that day. They would have to be creative in
entertaining themselves in a healthy way. Have your own
family concert or karaoke.
Get out of doors and have fun or exercise at least
three times a week. Swim. Walk. Run. Bike. Eat
lunch by the beach, under the trees, etc.
Avoid going on a trip to Miami (overseas) to shop
or purchase school supplies for the purpose of “saving
money.” Check the prices locally before your go away to
shop. Add up the total cost including all expenses.
Too many parents waste money traveling to shop simply
because they do not count the total cost of the trip.
They might have saved on purchases but the cost of the
tickets, hotel, transportation and food, make the trip
very expensive. Why should one spend $200 to buy a
plane ticket to go overseas to purchase a $25 DVD player
when the same player is $60 in our country? Purchasing
locally can save at least $200.
Read. Read. Read. Perhaps the best thing
parents can do during the summer months is to require
their children read books. Take them to local
bookstores, libraries, or purchase them online. The
number of books to be read should be based on the
children’s age. For example teenagers should read at
least three books (100 to 130 pages in length), pre-teen
should read two books, and the young children should
read at least one book. Also spend 50 to 100 hours
during the summer requiring your children to review
their school work, or studying their textbooks. If you
can afford it, enroll them in a structured tutoring
program such as Oxford Learning, Sylvan Learning, etc.,
especially if they have deficiencies in reading,
writing, and mathematics.
Renew your spiritual relationship with God during the
summer months. Ensure your children go to a
Vacation Bible School, church summer camp, etc. Have
daily family worship. Go to a church of your choice
Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist.
Send your questions and comments to
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit
www.soencouragement.org or call 1242-327-1980