As I type these words, the mercury is hovering around five degrees, a full 27 degrees below freezing; and yet, I want us all to turn our heads toward summer. This is not just because we will enjoy the warmer temperatures, but because it can be such a good time for learning. YES, learning.
While I clearly love our traditional school year September through May, with a little planning, the summer, too, can be a first-class time for growing. Now, please don’t get me wrong; I am NOT advocating more time in the classroom. Instead, I’m encouraging a bit of premeditated freedom for young people. Freedom includes time to be with family, time to read books just for fun, time to ride bikes in the neighborhood, and most importantly, time to be bored. Yes, bored.
Kids today often are scheduled to the gills. During most of their waking moments, young people are under adult supervision. (This is certainly true while at school.) We well-meaning adults often take the wheel firmly in hand and steer the learning course. This is also true in sporting activities and music lessons. While we give a nod toward child autonomy, tracking the hours would indicate significant adult involvement. While the outcomes in a young person’s skill development can be quite good, kids too often get the message that they are followers, not leaders, of their journey.
Summer, on the other hand, can be intentionally less structured, providing the time for kids to set the pace and path. It can be a time for kids to put their heart into learning to fish, going hiking, exploring a passion, or spending hours exploring science fiction. The sky is the limit. It can also be a time for kids to make neighborhood or vacation friends. Having friends at school AND a second set unrelated to Colorado Academy can be a wonderful combination. It can be a comfort when things are not going so well at school, and a compass reset when you are thinking through a problem.
The secret sauce of summer, and too often the missing ingredient during the rest of the year, is time to get bored and then figure out something fun to do…something creative, something fresh, something unusual. This is “old school” fun. Made-up rules, made-up games, made-up whatever. This ability to make something out of nothing is a gift that our generation took for granted, but it is an underdeveloped skill for young people today. (Note: for this “magic” to happen, access to technology needs to be eliminated. Young people’s first move when idle is to turn to technology for comfort and engagement.)
My hope is that taking just a few moments now, while we are shivering in the cold, to think about June, July, and August will allow you to engineer the best combination of family, fun, and boredom for your child.
If I can be of service in any way, please do not hesitate to reach out.