What are your plans for summer?
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Do you intend to invest some quality time in your family at home or while traveling?
Perhaps you'll encourage your children to spend more time outside, away from the television, computer and video games.
Maybe they need a little help maintaining a balanced diet. Are there some vegetables or fruits that they've never tried? Find a recipe you can make together and enjoy your meal at a leisurely pace.
Or, your children might benefit from some suggestions on what to read this summer. Ask a librarian for some age-specific recommendations.
What habits could your children develop now that will help them succeed this fall?
The next 10 weeks can be a time of growth, refreshment and relaxation, but nothing's going to happen without a plan.
Now that school is out, we can start thinking about what we'd like summer to be.
Wait a minute. Don't we get a breather after working so hard the last several months? Of course. The beauty of summer is that education is parent-directed. We have the opportunity to decide what our children will learn.
Sometimes the best learning occurs during playtime. Children who are relaxed and having fun can respond more easily than those who are in high-pressured, intense situations.
Play and fun are not equivalent to chaos, though. Children thrive on routine. Even though our schedules are more relaxed in the summer, we should still maintain some degree of order. Playtimes should be interspersed with "work" times.
It's also important for children to have chores so they understand what it takes to run a household. If they help with laundry, dishes and cleaning, they will be less likely to make a mess, and they will be more apt to take care of their belongings.
Summer is a great time to teach children new skills around the house. How should laundry be separated? How can I organize my closet so I won't misplace my belongings?
Children also need to be taught to maintain a healthful lifestyle. They shouldn't be allowed to stay up half the night and sleep until noon. An occasional exception to their bedtime routine won't hurt, but it should not become the norm.
This season provides a wonderful opportunity for parents to affirm their love for their children. We should engage them in backyard play — not merely watch them play. We should be active participants as long as we are able. There's something about family play time that children don't easily forget. Making the memory is worth the extra effort.
My kids will often ask, "Are we going to do such-and-such as a family?"
It doesn't really matter what the activity is — planting flowers, playing ball, washing the car — as long as we are doing it together.
Many hands do make light work and provide more time for fun.
May your summer be a well-balanced time of growth and refreshment.
Your children will be happy that you've made it so.
Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send email to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.