Summer… a great time for fun and structure!

I was recently asked by a client what type of organizing class her child should take over the summer to be prepared for school. To her surprise I told her “none”. If your jaw is on the floor as well, I will give you a minute to pick it up while I explain my rationale…

I love the idea of teaching organization to kids; so much so, in fact, I created a new division (to be launch in August) called The Organizing Tutor (a formal announcement will be coming soon!). The focus will be to educated children and their parents on how to get and stay organized for academic and personal success. That being said, summer is not the time to teach kids how to organize their binders and lockers. While the information may be good, they would have nothing on which to practice their skills. However, summer is also not the time to abandon all structure for 2 ½ months of a free-for-all. So how do you maintain some structure and still have fun?

Start with the end in mind. Everybody needs motivation to do something. When you are hungry you are motivated to go to the kitchen and find something to eat. When you have no more clean clothes, you are motivated to do laundry. So start your summer with a conversation about what your child hopes to accomplish over the next few months. Maybe your son has high hopes for making the tennis team or your daughter wants to try out for the lead in the school play next year. Whatever the goal, it is the desired end result that will drive how you spend your summer.

Now that there is a goal, start brainstorming to determine what you must do to meet that goal. For your son who wants to make the tennis team, encourage him to come up with ideas for how he might reach that goal – practice every day, watching videos of famous tennis players, reading books about the game, hiring a tennis coach, etc. Once the ideas are fleshed out, it is time to get down to business…the summer plan.

With a calendar close at hand, determine what tasks need to be done, when they will be done and with whom. Break it down further to create a plan for how you will spend your time each day, Monday – Friday. Include touch points every couple of weeks, where you review your child’s progress and help them decide if adjustments are needed. Rewards along the way can be used as incentive when the “boredom” of summer get the best of them and you find them ready to abandon  the goal for the lure of “doing nothing”.

A summer project plan is the best way to maintain some sort of structure while your kids get to practice organization, project and time management. These are real life skills with value that extends beyond school. In my practice, I find that most people who “go with the flow” all summer are anxiously awaiting for the routine that the school year brings. Those that have started the summer with a goal and a plan, are wishing for a little more time so that they can realize their goal and have time to celebrate! Which one are you going to be this summer?

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