For a number of summers, maybe 8 or so, I worked at an intensive, residential, summer enrichment program for high school students called Love of Learning. The program always began with a very intense, often emotional staff retreat to help us form bonds and make plans that would enrich our work. Usually, the retreat started with the writing of personal mission statements. I LOVED writing my mission statement (and included a mission statement writing exercise in Beautiful You) and hearing everyone else’s. One of my closest co-workers was a dear friend who was a year behind me in college. One year, he include part of Rudyard Kipling’s If in his mission statement, adding the words from the top of his head as he and I worked in the corner with some chocolate candy between us.
“Dude, how did you know that?” I asked, impressed.
And that’s when he shared about the coolest parenting strategy I’ve heard.
Every summer that he was growing up (maybe this started the summer before Kindergarten), his parents sat him down and said, “what all do you want to do this summer?” And he would come up with this super list: go to the local amusement park, check out a pro or semi-pro baseball game, have a friend spend the night, camp out, go to the beach, you know the stuff of little kids’ (and not so little kids’) summer dreams. They then said, “what do you want to learn or experience this summer” and that list would read like: learn how to throw a football spiral, identify 5 insects, write grandma three times, read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, etc. Then his parents would add things like “Memorize Rudyard Kipling’s If”, “volunteer”, etc. Next, they’d line up reward with experience. Write your grandma three times, you can go camping, etc. Those two lists hit the refrigerator and then it was up to my friend, by being intentional about how he spent his time, to make things happen. If he did what was on the “to experience” list, he earned what was on the “to do” list. Hence, more than a decade later, he still had If (a great poem for a kid to know) in his head. Does it come as NO surprise that this friend is the one whose parents let him fall asleep reading?
Anyway, I tell you about this now for two reasons.
1. I have a lot of friends who have kids who are the perfect age for the summer lists. We’re not there yet, but I am hoping I’ll remember this strategy in what I know will be a few short summers. In the meantime, if your family might get a kick out of it, have at it.
2. I’ve decided to do the list for myself because y’all know how I love a list. I am calling it my Summer of Intentionality. It won’t be terribly long, but there are a few things I’d really like to do this summer– some are terribly frivilous like get a babysitter and go see an afternoon matinee and some are more earnest like have a great veggie garden and eat more nutritious and interesting lunches (there are only so many sandwiches a woman should make herself eat in a week).. So this week, I am coming up with the list for my Summer of Intentionality and I want to invite you to join me in the fun.
What’s going on your formal or informal list for your Summer of Intentionality? I’ll share my final list once I have it.