by Patti Chadwick (This article appeared in the July 23rd, 2001 issue of Bright-Kids ezine.) Used with permission. All rights reserved.
Life with teenagers is hectic. The school year is especially busy with studies, sports, and extra-curricular activities. During the school year it is hard for your teen to find time to work on personal growth or to pursue special interests.With the summer coming and the school year coming to a close, now is the time for your teenager to work on personal development — and you can help them!
While both you and your teenager will want some free time in the summer to just “be”, if you don’t plan for developing special interests or personal growth, you will spend most of the summer idle. Remember the old sayings “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” (A Mother’s Summer Survival Manual) and “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time!” Don’t fall into that trap. Here are some ideas to help both you and your teen “plan your work and work your plan.”
1) The Parent’s Goals
In order to plan for developmental and personal growth in your teens over the summer break, you will need to think about what areas of their lives need to be concentrated on. Think of where your teen is intellectually, physically, spiritually, socially, emotionally, and in terms of practical living skills. Ask yourself where would you like your teen to be in each of these areas by the summer’s end.
2) Ask Your Teens for Input
Since they are no longer little children, but young adults, it is very important to discuss these plans with your teenager. What goals do they have for the summer? What would they like to learn? What athletic abilities would they like to hone? What special interests would they like to pursue? What practically living skills
do they wish to attain?
3) Determine How Goals Will be Measured
How will you measure progress? Remember, each teen is an individual and will grow at his or her own pace. It is wise to be flexible as you work together toward these goals.
4) Write Down Goals
Writing down goals will provide the structure needed to keep you and your teen moving toward the goal and provide a framework for activities you will plan.
When deciding on the interests to pursue and what you both would like have accomplished over the summer, you need to keep two things in mind: your objective and your plan to reach those goals. To help you get started, I’ve included a sample “Summertime Personal Growth Goals Worksheet.”
SAMPLE SUMMER GOALS WORKSHEET
- Objective: Increase Vocabulary
- Plan: Read 4 books this summer, one being a classic.
- Objective: Improve Soccer Skills
- Plan: Play in a summer soccer league.
- Objective: Learn more about the life of Jesus.
- Plan: Read all four Gospel accounts.
- Objective: Give back to the community.
- Plan: Volunteer two times per week at the YMCA.
Practical Living Skill Goals
- Objective: Get Driver’s License
- Plan: Drive with parents 2-3 times per week and learn how to do a 3-point turn, and parallel park.
*This is just a sample. Use this worksheet as a guide, but be sure to add to it or delete from it. Whatever works best for your family.
Now, armed with these examples, find the time to get alone with your teenager and make plans on how, as a team, you can make the most of summer vacation. While you are at it, why not make plans to work on your own personal growth this summer!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patricia Chadwick is a freelance writer and columnist in several online publications. Visit her website and sign up for her FREE weekly newsletter at http://www.parentsandteens.com