“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.” Mark Twain
When I was a girl of 13 or 14, I had the chance to spend the summer with my Aunt & Uncle. Their home was situated on Lake Winnebago – a vast expanse of water that was probably five feet deep at its lowest point. During my stay, the only thing necessary on my part, was to care for their 2 year old while they both worked.
That was the summer of my true awakening. Up until that point in my short life, I was convinced that the world revolved around me. Add to that the fact that I was at the beginning of puberty, my emotions demanded it. I would soon learn that life wasn’t all about me. I was now responsible for someone else.
I had lots of perks that summer. A lovely lake home, with all the amenities. I could go swimming and work on my tan. I could eat whenever I wanted without someone telling me to stop. It sounded like the perfect job and it was, but it was more than just a job. It was a time for me to learn about reaching out to others, helping them, making them laugh, putting them before myself and making a difference for that person.
Summer is a great time for kids to catch their breath after many months of studying hard and digesting the things they’ve learned. The lessons they learn from living can often be more beneficial than those gained from books. During these months off, they need time to regenerate, but the learning shouldn’t be put on hold.
They can learn from being in God’s creation – catching bugs and digging through the earth. The clouds in the sky paint wonderful pictures for the imagination of a child. The beauty of flowers, a waterfall, a glorious lake can all feed that need for learning too. When kids are given responsibilities during their “vacation” time, they will also learn some valuable lessons.
It’s the perfect time to get them involved in something that will take them outside of themselves and share their talents to bring joy to someone else. Their imaginations will soar if you give them the opportunity to do so.
Sometimes I think we give our kids too many outlets in the form of structured learning, that what they gain is minimal. Give them a bunch of books and they will thrive. Show them how to paint with watercolors and watch their imaginations take off. Give them jobs so they feel necessary in the scheme of things. Not only will they get some exercise, but they will feel important. Through this experience, you are building an entrepreneurial spirit at an early age.
Summertime is for easy living, but not time to take a vacation from learning. Some of the greatest lessons of life come from living it.