At last, summer is here, and with it the summer holidays. Hooray!!!
I love this time, spending long, sun-filled days with my children. I love not having a schedule to think about, classes to run to, and fixed bedtimes to observe (or pay lip service to, at least!). This is the time for day trips to wherever we fancy, picnics, water parks, bike rides and seeing friends we’d never otherwise find time to meet. Then we are all exhausted, we collapse for movies with microwave popcorn!
I don’t have a schedule for the holidays, I’m not one for summer camps or crash courses, so it’s easy to not have to plan too much. We can do what we please without having to fit other things around it.
Summer activities and classes for kids
But as email after email hits my inbox with opportunities for kids’ summer courses, I begin to wonder.
If I’m not “advancing” my children in summer activity camps, teaching them the latest martial arts or acting techniques, what, oh what, will they learn this summer?!
Might they actually just be left to have fun, without a discernible milestone reached or certificate issued at the end of it?!
Are targets important for kids?
Now here’s the thing: I understand that we need milestones and targets in teaching. I don’t necessarily agree with them all, but I get why the principle exists.
Also, I understand that for many parents who are working and have limited annual leave, the summer holidays represent a logistical challenge. It can be a constant juggling act to find care or fun activities for children.
So these classes and opportunites are great for many people. But what I don’t get so much, is the sense of constant milestones and pressure. It feels like we are mixing childcare and activies with another concept – the need to strive towards a “target”, even in the holidays.
Can’t children just be left alone to be children? If they need or want to go to a camp, so be it, but does it really need to come with a “goal” attached.
Raising our children to focus on targets and competition
I read an hilarious blog recently, detailing the frustrations of a mum over school open days and end of term gifts for teachers. It was colourful to say the least. It talked about the competitiveness of parents in being seen to give the best gift, or make the best Viking model!
And I can’t help but think this competitiveness, in possessions and achievements, is what we are teaching our kids.
“My child wants a certificate at the end of their activity camp” you might say. Well no wonder; that’s how we are raising them to be motivated. But did you ever get an achievement certificate in your summer holidays 30 (cough cough) years ago? I didn’t.
We should be teaching our children to have fun and just enjoy life!
But mostly we will just have fun. So what will I teach them? Here’s what…
I helped at a school swimming gala for my eldest this week…it was brilliant fun, but sweltering hot. By the end of it we really needed to cool off. So six of us, including a staff member, jumped into the pool, to screams of delight from the children.
We won’t have won a traditional role-model badge for doing this, but what did we achieve?
As we squelched back to school in our wet clothes, we taught them life doesn’t always need to be serious. We showed them you can laugh at yourself and have fun. We showed them that you can occasionally just do something just for its own sake. You don’t always have to worry about whether your actions will make you look good or become the best.
If I help my children embrace that value this summer, so that they carry it with them through life, I’ll be very pleased with their achievements!
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