5 free ways to build your child's character this summer
By Sherise Henry
Summer break is one of the most anticipated times of the year for school aged children. However after the first few weeks of staying up late and sleeping past the breakfast hour most children and parents start to wonder just what can be done to make the most of their time.
If your pocketbook says camp is not an option, it’s time to lean on that parenting skill that blossoms in the hardest of times…CREATIVITY. Not to worry you don’t have to think through this thing alone. We’ve thought of five low cost or free options that may help build character and put an end to that familiar drawl of a phrase…”Mom I’m bored.”
Volunteerism is something that can be encouraged and nurtured in children through several avenues. Whether its need based, event inspired or derives from a child’s personal interest, getting to know a few local leaders or non- profit groups in your community who can use children volunteers is a good idea. One such source is your local garden club or environmental group. They can make you aware of clean up days in your town or city and how you can help. If there isn’t an event scheduled this summer, you can pick a neighborhood and gather a few friends and organize your own clean-up effort. Be sure to take before and after picks. It increases your sense of accomplishment for a job well done.
Another community group who can always use a bit of encouragement is the sick and shut in or elderly. Your child can plan to visit the recreation director at any given nursing home for ideas on how they can take part in an activity. They can also go with a list of conversation starters that may help make good company such as “what’s your favorite song?” what’s your favorite scripture,” what’s your favorite food?” The conversation may prove that it’s not that difficult to bridge the generation gap after all.
CHECK YOUR LOCAL CHURCH
Many churches choose to have at least one week of summer learning to get children involved in a church community. Some churches even have transportation available. It’s also common to provide children attending with some sort of meal or snack while they are in their care. If you are a parent without a church home, vacation bible school is a great way to get introduced to a church and learn more about it. You may also gain materials from the church that can help you continue to keep Christ centered stories and prayer as part of your child’s learning experience.
One of the best resources in any community is its local library. Not only is this the source of free reading, video rentals and occasional performances it’s also a good excuse to get out of the house and into learning. While your library may not have a Christian book section for kids, you can read books that leave themselves open for Christian discussion. For example, the wildly popular book series…”Diary of a Wimpy Kid” leaves the child author emotionally vulnerable. This can be a teaching tool for the parent who wants to ask their child about what emotions they go through at school and how their faith can help them deal with a bad day, bullying and other pressure situations. Maybe you can start your own summer reading agreement where for every three books a child reads you pick one that you would like them to read, and set up a reward system for completion, like their favorite meal or a trip to the water park.
EXPLORE THE OUTDOORS
A chance to get off the couch and into the outdoors is something a child may quickly appreciate. Learning the value of exercise or just appreciating nature can build memories that last a lifetime. A few outdoor ideas may include fishing, rock climbing, hiking, or simply mowing the lawn. If your child does not gravitate towards the physical activity you may elect to do a gardening project. A child can help mom with her flower garden or be adventurous and try to grow their very own tomatoes this summer. It’s a blessing to be alive and in good health. The outdoors is one way to make that realization very apparent.
In our busy day to day bustle we sometimes miss out on those conversations with our loved ones that hold priceless insight and information. One idea your child can take part in this summer is picking an older relative or relatives to visit to construct a family report or build a family tree. They can ask the older relative information like, “what was your grandmother’s name?” where did you go to school?” where did you go to church?” Opening the door to some of these questions may create stories your child can gather and in the meantime involve time together with their relative.
Whatever plans you create for your child this summer know that there are several alternatives to video games and basic cable. It just takes a little imagination and proper planning to get your child off the couch and into character. God bless.