In most places in the country, schools are out. Most kids are at home more often now, typically wondering what to do with all of their free time. As you know, if left to their choices, they’re going to take the path of least resistance (just like many of us). They’re going to sleep late, watch television, and play with electronics. There’s no doubt that summer is a time for a more relaxed schedule for the kids. Many of them have pushed pretty hard during the school year, often going from school to activity after activity (not to mention the fact that even kindergartners now have homework).
But, despite the more-relaxed pace, summer should not be a time of regress. In fact, it’s a great opportunity for kids to grow and develop. As most of you know, I’m a big believer that kids need to be active. In fact, they need to be active in unstructured ways. During the summers, we need to look for ways to let our kids have as much unstructured outdoor time as possible where they actively play, imagine, create, and interact. To the greatest extent possible, fill their summers with unstructured activities. In short, make them go outside and play with others. A lot.
Here’s the kicker: they probably won’t do that for 12 hours a day all summer long. They’ll need breaks. They’ll need to rest. And there will be rainy days. These down times are excellent opportunities to keep their minds sharp and incorporate some learning that they wouldn’t get in school.
A Summer Learning Project
This summer, I’ve decided to give my older boys (age 9 and 10) a summer learning project. They will write three reports, each one about a different historical figure that demonstrated the virtues that I want them to pursue. While our kids will typically follow our example, as I noted in this post, it’s great for them to have other examples and sources of inspiration. They’ll get two to three weeks to work on each report, making their own choices on when they do the work. I’m giving them the content requirements and the deadlines; they figure out the rest. As a result, my hope is that they’ll not only be inspired to be great men, they’ll also learn time management skills and grow in responsibility. The first step will simply be to not lose the instructions.
At the end, if they successfully complete the projects, I’ll reward them. If not, well, we’ll make that a learning experience, too. So, if you’re looking for a way to help your boys grow and keep their minds sharp this summer, a learning project is a great way to do it. Check out the picture below for the details of the project we’re doing; feel free to use it with your boys:
Update: My boys had a blast with it. They actually kept up with their Project Instructions; I figured it would get lost pretty quickly. They learned about three men who developed their masculinity and accomplished great things. They saw how these men worked hard and overcame obstacles, how they were strong, courageous, and productive. They also learned that people are complicated, not easily put into categories of “good” or “bad”. They learned that Jack London was an alcoholic who had bad marriages. They learned that Hemingway likely committed suicide. And they learned that Teddy was a beast of a man. In the end, it was a great summer project that will hopefully help a couple of boys grow up to live the man’s life.
*If you enjoyed this post, do two things: (1) enter your information below to subscribe to my mailing list and get my free report, Why Men Need a Mid-life Crisis, and (2) use the share buttons below to share this article on social media. Thanks.