Written by: Lilian Solorzano
We are almost half way through summer break and its time to evaluate if you are getting the most out of this much needed “break.”
As for me, my kids are in summer camp and have been busy perfecting their backstroke, playing random sports, and making new friends. In addition to their fun days at camp, we also make sure to incorporate those summer long assignments given by the elementary schools to keep the kids engaged in learning all summer long and prepping them for the next grade that’s coming up. I don’t know about you, but my kids are busy!
However, each summer is a good time to work on setting good habits. One of the most important habits in our home is learning the importance of setting goals. We like to use the summer to practice this goal setting structure. To keep it do-able, despite hectic summer activities, I have come up with a few simple goals you can try today! In fact, you may have started some of these already …
5 Totally do-able goals your kids should set for this summer:
1. Sleep More
I am constantly reminding my kids how important sleep is for their development (and mommy’s sanity). There is evidence to support the old saying that kids grow taller in their sleep; this is because bones do most of their growing at night! The immune system, cognitive development, heart health, and hormonal balances all benefit from good sleep, and summer is a great time to focus on maximizing those Z’s.
Even if your kids are in camp, you can usually count on it starting a little later than your usual school year start time. During the week, our kids are sleeping in at least another half hour, and they tend to go to sleep around the same time, given that there is no homework and they are exhausted from running around all day. Most of all, we cherish our weekend mornings (queue the blackout shades and powered off alarms.) In the summer, we try not to add scheduled activities too early on the weekends and so the kids are free to sleep as much as their little bodies desire. One of my daughters takes this newfound freedom very seriously; however, I have yet to convince the other two to play along. (Well, the baby gets a pass this summer).
2. Break a Bad Habit
This goal might be the hardest on the list because these habits are usually chronic for a reason. However, through mindfulness and practice, any minor habit can be broken. This summer, the girls are focusing on speaking kinder to each other. They are both at an age where they are flexing their wings and their VOICES. Now that daddy has pointed this behavior out to them and they are spending more time with each other, it is the perfect opportunity for them to practice using kinder words and breaking the victim cycle they have each adopted (you know, the “She did it!” “She doesn’t let me!” etc.)
However, this goal can look very different for you and your kids. Some other examples may be, drinking more water and less soda; not chewing with your mouth open; or not using the word “like” as much (I need to do this one!) Just be sure to choose something you think you can accomplish by the start of the new school year, and stick to it!
3. Learn a New Skill
I absolutely love the flexibility in this goal: Anything goes! A new skill could be as simple as learning how to play a new board game, or as daunting as learning how to swim. If you have an older kid, teach them how to use a map (a real map, not google) or drive a car. If you have a toddler, teach them how to sing a new song or build a sand castle. Most importantly, celebrate and recognize the achievement after they meet their goal, and reflect on how exciting it is to learn something new!
This summer, my 7-year-old has set a goal to ride her bike without training wheels, and she is terrified. My eldest is focusing on learning how to braid her own hair, and she has a whole slew of them on her list: Fishtail, French, Dutch, and some that I have never even heard of. I would like to believe that baby Aria is currently working on sleeping through the night (or is this just wishful thinking?)
Wish us luck!
4. Explore a New Place
If you are fortunate enough to travel during summer break, this one should be easy. Exploring new places is a great way for your child to see the world and opens them up to new experiences and cultures. More importantly, you are sharing special memories that will last a lifetime.
Even if you cannot travel to somewhere exotic, you can still explore places in your own city and surrounding areas. Talk to your kids about tourism and show them places that are frequently visited by foreigners. Visit a new park or a new beach, or take them downtown and take in the sights, sounds, and smells. I have lived in Miami for most of my life, and there are still countless places I have not seen or been to, so the options are endless.
Sorry, Jumpin Jamboree does not count. Get out there and explore without reservation!
5. Read a book; Then Watch the Movie
This is a great way to motivate your kids to read over the summer, and the culmination of watching the movie is an event for the whole family to enjoy! The best part is that they learn to appreciate these two very different modes of storytelling and artistic expression without even realizing it. My eldest daughter was quick to point out how the book series she is currently reading is similar to the Netflix series but presented differently. She is currently on the 2nd book of “A Series of Unfortunate Events”, and even though it is a dark read for a 9-year-old, she loves it and looks forward to keeping up with the books, just to follow along with the series. I can’t wait to re-watch Jim Carrey’s version of the movie with her too.
My middle daughter is currently in a committed reading relationship with the Captain Underpants book series, has already watched the movie, and has recently discovered the Netflix series as well (Man, I missed the boat on buying that stock!) Every chance she gets, she snags another book from the public library (she’s read 4). She sometimes creates her own Flip-O-Rama, a unique animation technique used in the books, and has even written her own short stories on talking toilets and crazy inventions. I have to say, I wasn’t too fond of this relationship at first, but it seems to be working out quite nicely.
If you are new to this idea, I would definitely suggest starting small. You can’t go wrong with classics like Mary Poppins, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, or a personal favorite Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. For older kids, novels like The Giver and Pride and Prejudice have a great payoff with their feature films. The most important thing is that your child chooses the story, and enjoys the process (even if that means they want to read something like Twilight or of course, Captain Underpants).
Personally, I will be attempting this goal backward, as I go back to read J.R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” books now that I have successfully watched all 8 seasons of Game of Thrones. In fact, us adults can also benefit from setting these goals and smashing them by the end of August. I challenge you to try these Totally Do-able 5 Goals for Summer and let us know how it works for you and your family.
Happy Summering Kendall!
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