I’m not the kind of mom who fills the summer with sleeping until noon, then staring at a screen until bedtime – much to my children’s chagrin! We set time aside each summer to work on academics and some fun theme weeks. The Summer Bridge workbooks are a great academic tool for kids up to 10 or 11, and then it’s time to work out another plan. Last summer each child chose a few summer goals.
We had four areas of focus for our goals: educational, spiritual, physical and temporal. For education, each child chose a reading goal, either required reading for the older kids or a number of hours for my younger kids. We also figured out a math program and weekly writing projects.
The spiritual goals consisted of scripture reading, working on Boy Scouts or other church programs, like Personal Progress. The physical goal was also simple, exercise for a certain number of days each week. We ran into a few snags because my definition of ‘working out’ was different from their definition. This year, I relaxed my definition some on what qualifies.
The final goal focuses on developing a skill. Last year’s goals included cooking, starting a business, learning photography and a sewing project. Education is important, but so are marketable skills and developing talents.
With the Summer Bridge books, rewards were based on completing the three sections. Each child chose a reward worth about $5 for the first two sections and $10 for the final section and sticking to it all summer. By choosing SMART measurable goals, it’s easy to determine which goals were accomplished. Each goal – educational, spiritual, physical and temporal – is worth $5. The child can choose four $5 rewards or a larger $20 reward. We had a few occasions where the goal was worked on but not met, and I awarded a partial reward.
Our first year had some kinks. Using stop, start and continue; we came up with some improvements for this summer. First we posted the goals to keep them focused. Second we made calendars to track our progress. Finally, we set clearer definitions and plans to accomplish each goal.
We’re off to a good start, but it’s only the first week. I’ll keep you posted how the rest of summer goes.
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