Magical things happen in summer. As a kid, you might have learned to ride a bike, and as a teenager, you may have fallen in love. In your twenties, you may have backpacked across Europe or met your future husband. Whatever it was, don’t you remember always returning in the fall feeling stronger, wiser, and a little more confident? Even today, summer isn’t without purpose: It’s about daydreaming and discovering new places, running to the farmstand and finally getting to all the books that piled up on your nightstand. And I always return to Westchester at the end of the season rejuvenated.
We’re heading to the North Fork for most of the summer. And while I’ll savor those long unstructured days on the beach and picnics in the backyard with the kids, I also want to inspire a different kind of summer magic in my little ones. I want to help them work on themselves, the same way I always try to work on me. My friend, Kelsa Debrabant, who started a fabulous children’s mindfulness subscription service called Wonder Crate, had a good tip about helping the kids grow: Encourage them to make a summer goal. Nothing academic or stressful. Instead, help them discover and commit to a big hearted, ambitious fun dream that they can work toward all summer.
“Building a rocket, learning to sew or skateboard, picking up a new instrument, learning to garden or bake can bring kids one step closer to an interest or far off dream,” she says. Since young kids don’t typically know the difference between a dream and a goal, she says, it’s worth talking to them about the difference. While you might dream of going to the moon someday, your goal for this summer would be to build a rocket or go to space camp.
Here is an example to use with your kids:
I wish I was a great baseball player.
I dream about the day that I will play in the major leagues.
My goal is to spend every day this summer practicing baseball for 1 hour.
When my 8-year-old was pushed to think about a summer goal, he told us how badly he wanted to learn to rollerblade. He recorded his obstacles: “I need to get rollerblades.” Then he came up with a plan to practice: “A little bit everyday, if I can.” (As an end of the year gift, we just ordered the rollerblades!)
“When kids have the skills to break their dreams down into goals, and break their goals down into smaller steps, they create their own road map for success,” says Kelsa.
Once your kids have had a chance to come up with their subject interest or big dream, pick a goal to help put it into action, then finally make sure it is SMART. SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Bound. Have your child fill in the SMART Goals worksheet borrowed from Grade 4 Muise http://grade4muise.weebly.com/leader-in-me. Help them make sure their goals are SMART and post the completed sheet in a visible spot they will see every day. Remind them that people who write out their goals are twice as likely to achieve them than people who keep it in their heads.
Looking for fun ways to help your child create and stick to their goals this summer? Sign up for the Wonder Crate newsletter to receive weekly tips and suggestions. And subscribe today to receive our July box, “I Can Do Hard Things: A Perseverance Box”, full of fun and empowering activities for building perseverance and includes the book Mindset Matters by Bryan Smith.