Avoid the Summer Slump with Teachable Moments
Just as teachers want children to avoid the “summer slump” of digressing academically June through August, we as parents don’t want our children to forget what WE have taught them either. That’s why it’s so important for us to look for teachable moments throughout the summer months just as vigilantly as we do the rest of the year. We know we don’t get to take the summer off from the parenting role anyway, so let’s do all we can to avoid the parental “summer slump.” Here are some areas to consider.
Although we know exactly when summer is coming, we can still get caught off guard with the sudden excess of free time our kids have. The good news is that we can even use free time as opportunities for teachable moments! Instead of meeting the inevitable “I’m bored” declarations with irritation and frustration, we can meet them with intentionality. These are opportune times to help our kids brainstorm some things they’d like to learn, create, or accomplish and then help them get started with the plans and supplies they need. Our showing both support and interest in our kids’ freelance projects can help fan their spark of interest and help them keep moving forward.
On another note, boredom is not always a bad thing. Particularly due to busy schedules and constant access to screens, our kids don’t always get opportunities to let their brains and bodies rest and “just be.” Many of our kids have greatly underused their imaginations…because they haven’t had to use their imaginations. Parents, let’s reject the temptation to keep our kids occupied and entertained at all times and, instead, let them be bored. Let the kids be alone with their thoughts and natural creativity. They just might discover some new interests or abilities!
We can further engage our kids in teachable moments by challenging them to dedicate some of their time to working or volunteering. For instance, they can find ways to make money by doing extra jobs for us around the house or for extended family members or neighbors. They can wash windows, walk dogs, pull weeds, pick up trash, etc. Or they might discover crafting or baking and find ways to sell their creations. Summertime can serve as a great setting for little entrepreneurs to get their start!
Volunteering to help others is another great use of free time. Let’s encourage our kids to be on the lookout for needs they can help meet. This might involve taking care of a neighbor’s pet while they’re out of town; collecting canned food, clothes, or toys to donate; cutting grass for a neighbor who is elderly or sick; or cooking dinner for a family with a new baby. There are so many possibilities, and these are great ways to get our kids to think outside of themselves. Meeting “I’m bored” with “What is something you could do for someone else?” can be a good and important practice.
Many of us take some sort of family vacation in the summertime, but this time doesn’t have to include vacationing from teachable moments with our kids. We don’t have to schedule formal times of teaching–just be on the lookout for natural moments. For example, we can point out the needs for patience, cooperation, and flexibility when several people are taking a trip together. Not everyone gets to do exactly what they want at every minute of a family trip, so we must teach our kids the values of being respectful and having a positive attitude even when we are having to tag along on what someone else wants to do.
There are also plenty of moments during vacations to highlight the art of delayed gratification (“If we eat a good lunch now, we will get ice cream later this afternoon.”). Even going on vacation itself is a delayed gratification, since it is a special event. Involving our kids in the planning, money-saving, and preparation processes can teach them some great life lessons.
However we spend our time with our families this summer, let’s be just as intentional about teachable moments as we are about creating fun and happy memories together.
Carrie Bevell Partridge and her husband Kevin are on the lookout for teachable moments with their five kids in Ridgeland, MS. Read more from Carrie at carriebevellpartridge.com, where she writes words of encouragement and support for marriage and family. Carrie is also in the process of writing a book on practical ways to seize teachable moments with your kids.