parenting

Summer Learning: Helping Your Child Make Smart Life Choices

my worldLeaving a Legacyparentingeducation

goats Summer Learning—I recently bought $750 worth of goats to help feed families living on a dump, in Africa. We received pictures of them, and my kids and I named each one. Ruby, Bob, Max and 12 others. My boys learned a geography lesson about Africa, a cultural lesson about people in far corners of the world who have to fight for food and they learned that you can give and change lives even at a distance.

Closer to home, I've taken them with me to play basketball with abandoned kids in a children's orphanage, and when I was asked to teach a Junior Achievement class to high school students in the inner city, I brought my boys along to help me. I taught the students how to create a vision board for their lives, and my own sons participated too. They wrote down their top 5 goals on canvas and cut photographs out of magazines to glue to it. One high schooler had a goal to buy a car. He cut out a photograph of a shiny red Toyota. My 6 year-old had the same goal on his vision board, but his picture that he cut out was a toy car, which he loves playing with. At the end of the day each student took their vision board home as a reminder to keep their eyes, and minds, fixed on what they want to achieve.

Although some might think of summer as a break from learning, I think its beneficial to see it as a time of learning acceleration. This summer you can be intentional about bonding, giving back, and building a legacy with your kids. You can teach them principles, like the vision board, that will impact their hearts forever!

Vision board

My son's vision board

The vision board exercise is one of the simplest and inspiring to do. I've taught it to the employees at Lululemon and other companies; it's never too early to start creating goals and vision. Bring the kids along and involve them in the process.

When I teach writers workshops to the homeless during the summer, I often bring the kids along too. I do this because I want them to grow into adults who love, and serve, but also because I know they'll learn about how not to be homeless, and how to make better choices for their own lives. This impacts them on every level: from head to heart. It changes the way they think about their faith, family, and finances.

They have friends who live under bridges. Yes, friends.

Who. Sleep. Under a bridge.

The other day we were at lunch in suburbia with another mom and her son when my 6 year-old mentioned one of our homeless friends. "Curtis is getting a new dog," he said, matter-of-factly. "He's going to keep it under the bridge with him at night." He said it as if it were perfectly normal to have a friend who sleeps under a bridge with a dog.

What they've learned from giving back, is something I know they'd never learn in school, or from a textbook. Love, motivation, compassion, serving, and the inspiration to avoid the mistakes others make. So put this on your summer list: buy a goat, sponsor a child, or call up your local homeless shelter.

You'll be glad you did.

How will you bond with your kids this summer and radically transform their hearts? How do you help your children grow into adults who love, serve, and make better choices for their own lives?

Image in rotating viewer on homepage courtesy of Flickr.

Tammy Kling is a life coach, advocate for the homeless, and international author of 29 books including The Compass. Tammy is also the founderr of Write it Out, an organization that helps gang members, the homeless, and those living on the street write out their hopes & dreams via writers workshops, free journals and various other resources.

In addition to writing and coaching, Tammy is a mom of two boys, an avid trail and mountain runner, blogger, and adventure travel writer.

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I'm a book author, homeschool mom of boys, mountain runner and advocate for the homeless. Founder of Write it Out, a homeless recovery program that teaches writers workshops to the homeless and gang members, in order to focus on using the power of words to restore, recover, and rehabilitate. www.escapesuburbia.wordpress.com

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