Last Friday marked the end of our school year. The kids worked hard, especially considering the fact that the location of our school room changed three times over the course of the year. I knew that this week would be a time of rest with very low structure.
But I also know that kids thrive when they are given a predictable schedule. They know when to work and when to play, and they feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of their day. I recently read The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson. I was struck by something that her teenage daughter observed:
Mom, it seems to me that those who really know God should be more loving, more deeply driven with enthusiasm about their purpose in life . . . more creative and more excellent in every way. Shouldn't knowing God change them forever? (Clarkson p.111)
I can't get this thought out of my head. I want to instill in my children a healthy sense of purpose as they grow and mature. I want them to pursue excellence and creativity because we serve a God who is excellent and creative. I want their lives to stand out as testimonies to the One who has given them such great minds and abilities.
I was also impressed by an idea that I found over at Inspired to Action. A reader suggested using Luke 2:52 as a framework for summer plans:
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
She found ways in which her children could grow in each of these areas (mental and physical growth along with service to God and others) while embracing the unique freedom that summer provides. What a great way for children to grow!
So I made a chart. (This is what I do when I'm inspired. I'm rather Type A that way.) I don't want us to waste our summer. I want us to live intentionally, fully. Our Summer Goals chart has rows for each person in our family. The three columns read "Places to Go," "Things to Do" and "Books to Read."
Our "Places to Go" will not be extravagant or expensive. For example, Aidan would like for our family to go to the Camas pool this summer. Bethie is excited to visit the humane society. Drew is ready for some disc golfing with dad, and I'm eager to take out the canoe.
For "Things to Do," I've encouraged the kids to think of three hobbies or skills that they'd like to develop over the next several weeks. Drew wants to "fire a gun" (heaven help us) and Avery wants to make ice cream. Bethie would like to work on some embroidery projects, and Aidan wants to perfect his rope tying skills. I've included my own goals on the chart as well, such as completing some sewing projects and going on a family hike (or two . . . or three).
Finally, the "Books to Read" column, which is pretty self-explanatory. Jamie and I have personally chosen larger works of fiction. He's prepared to take on Dickens' Our Mutual Friend, and I've chosen George Eliot's Middlemarch. The kids have each chosen three books. They are taking part in our library's summer reading program, too, which really makes those pages turn quickly.
Our mornings will include a bit more structure -- the "mental growth" we want to develop: reading, piano, chores, and the hobbies that they're pursuing. Afternoons are for exploring and the "physical growth" that rapidly takes place during the summer months. I love to find Aidan up a tree, Drew perfecting his jump shot, Bethie jumping rope and Avery Kate zipping by on her bike. There are frogs to catch, wildflowers to admire, berries to pick and trails to explore.
I know that not every day will be seamless and productive. There will be wild, exciting days filled with youth camps, family visits, traveling, and Vacation Bible School. There will also be days when we need to do nothing but rest. There will be late nights and lazy mornings. There will be days of structure and there will be days of chaos. But God has given our family these days, and I want to use them well. I want to embrace the excellence and creativity that He's bestowed on all of His children, and I want to take delight in the One who has given us the freedom to live, laugh and love, each and every day.