“Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer—those days of soda and pretzels and beer—roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer—dust off the sun and moon and sing a song of cheer ….” So goes the refrain from a song made popular by Nat King Cole in the early 1960s. This refrain and the words of the song reflects the spirit of how most people plan to spend their summer months—being lazy and acting crazy.
I remember living several summers this way—mostly as an older teen—and coming to remorse over the lazy part, but fully regretting the crazy part! My pocket funds got low when I was lazy. However, the trouble I got into by acting crazy had some long-term ramifications.
When God saw fit to bring my wife and me into His Church, we learned that God designed the summer months for fruitful, joyful, productive and positive work! Think about it. Being lazy and crazy isn’t part of God’s plan any time of the year.
What about you? Are you allowing a song like “Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer” guide your plans for the summer? More importantly, are you letting a song like that guide your plans for your children’s summer?
Herbert W. Armstrong taught God’s people how to approach the summer months when he established the Summer Education Program (sep). These summer camps, conducted in beautiful outdoor settings, emphasized education. Campers were not permitted to be lazy or crazy. Mr. Gerald Flurry raised the ruins of sep by sponsoring Philadelphia Youth Camp (pyc).
Summer is a time for education. Don’t let the productive months of summer get away from you and your children. Parents, get an education program started—today! It is really not that difficult to start and maintain an effective summer education program for your children—even your toddlers.
Remember, you are called to be teachers (Hebrews 5:12). You are responsible for your child’s education (Deuteronomy 6; Malachi 4:5-6). Realize, teaching your child is qualifying you for a job that is going to last for eternity.
God’s Church has made it easier for you to assume your responsibility. Use the general outline of the daily routine of pyc as your guide. It has been tried and tested. It works!
Following are seven areas to concentrate on with your child this summer.
Daily Prayer and Bible Study
Be sure to set maintain a schedule during the summer months. Obviously the summer schedule does not have to remain as rigorous as during the school year, yet you must still maintain a schedule. Prevent your child from staying up late and sleeping in late. Solomon repeats in many proverbs the folly of mismanaged and excessive sleep (study Proverbs 6:9-11; 19:15; 20:13; 24:33).
During the summer months, teach your child to put God first every day. This means that you must emphasize with your child his or her need to pray and study first thing every morning. Of course, that means that you must do this as well. Your child will naturally want to follow your example.
Summer provides the perfect time to do Bible reading with your child. Solomon made it easy for you. God inspired the wisest man on the Earth (prior to the arrival of Jesus Christ) to record gems of wisdom your child needs to live a successful life.
Set a goal to read and discuss several proverbs every day. You should do some preparation to find the proverbs that most apply to your child’s specific needs or to events that have happened within the family recently. You will quickly see immense rewards when you do this with your child.
Be sure that the family has prayed and studied before any other activity is begun.
Spend Time in Nature
Summer is one of the best times of the year to get your child out into nature. Give your child a break from the technology of cell phones, computers, computer games and television. Explore the outdoors. Nature provides one of the best classrooms to teach your child about God. Paul taught that creation is the proof of God (Romans 1:20).
There is nothing more inspiring, relaxing or rejuvenating than camping along with fishing, hiking or swimming in lakes located in wild, unspoiled nature. The immense vistas of mountains, big skies and star-studded nights show the bigness and giving spirit of God. Teach your child that God wants to give him or her the best of everything. God’s stunning creation demonstrates this fact better than anything a man could come up with.
If it is not within the family budget to go on a camping-type vacation, use your local natural environment to your advantage. You can work at growing a vegetable garden with your child. There is incredible wonder to experience while planting a seed and then watching it grow into a plant that produces food.
You are unlimited in what you can do with your children. Hike in local parks; visit the local zoo; attend a show at a planetarium, if your city has one. If there is no planetarium close by, pitch a tent or spread out a blanket in the backyard and watch the stars come out as the sun sets.
Reading and Writing
Most schoolteachers have come to dread a condition afflicting students called summer brain drain. Students suffering from summer brain drain forget what they learned during the school year over the summer months. How much do you love your child’s teachers? If you love them a lot, you will work to prevent brain drain in your children. The number one way you can prevent the drain is to keep your child reading and writing during the summer months.
Sharp reading and writing skills maintain the habit of learning throughout the year. The importance of reading and writing cannot be overstated.
To promote the habit of reading, take your children on trips to your public library. Help them pick out several interesting books to read for the coming week. Be sure to encourage them to choose non-fiction books and only the finest fiction. Most public libraries maintain collections of both. Some of the best non-fiction books for children are biographies and autobiographies. The better biographies and autobiographies, such as Benjamin Franklin’s, will help your children learn from the examples of others.
Older children should be encouraged to include in their list of reading Church booklets, such as Pagan Holidays—or God’s Holy Days—Which?, The Ten Commandments and Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath?
Encourage your children to continue writing by having them keep a journal. “Education comes from study—from books—from lectures—from contacts—from travel—from thinking about what you see and hear and read—and from experience,” Mr. Armstrong wrote in his autobiography. A writing journal will not only help your child express his thoughts in writing, it will help him think about what he is hearing, reading and doing during the summer. Many of the most talented artists, writers and statesmen kept personal journals. The published personal journals of great men and women have been some of the most popular bestsellers.
Do Remedial Work
Make sure that you do remedial work with your child as part of your summer education program. From teacher conferences and your child’s final grades you should be able to know what subjects your child needs additional help with to begin to master that subject.
Don’t delay. Be proactive. Don’t be guilty of enabling brain drain. If your child finished the year with a “D” in math, it is your responsibility to work with your child over the summer to bring them up to speed. If you don’t know exactly what to do—get extra work from his teachers. They will be more than happy to recommend workbooks (with answer sheets) to help you.
Teach Your Child to Work
One of the most important activities at pyc is called “campus improvement.” This activity provides each dorm an opportunity to work at improving God’s campus. It is thrilling for the campers to have that hands-on experience at headquarters. There is an important lesson for all parents here. Learning how to work effectively and hard is one of the most important parts of education. God the Father and Jesus Christ are workers (John 5:17). This summer, teach your child to work.
Every home has hundreds of tasks that need to be done every day. Be sure to assign some of these to your children. Of course, the tasks you assign to them should be age appropriate. For example, it is not advisable that your 6-year-old cut your lawn with a gas-powered mower. Yet, a 6-year-old is capable of being taught how to pull weeds out of a garden, sweep dirt off of a porch or sidewalk, and pick up garbage or debris on a lawn.
When your child completes a task you require of them, be sure to check their effort. If his or her work is not up to par, make them do it until it is. Remember, your child will have an employer some day. I never had a boss that was as easy as my mother. When your child goes to work, he won’t either. You do not need to feel obligated to always pay your child for summer work. Remind them this is part of their summer education program. “[I]f any would not work, neither should he eat,” Paul taught the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 3:10). My father enforced this lesson regularly with my brothers and me when we were living under his roof.
Health and Exercise
Become your children’s physical education instructor over the summer. Be sure that they are eating healthy foods and drinking plenty of fresh water. Get your children moving by insisting on daily exercise. Your options are endless during the warmer months. There is biking, running, swimming and walking to name just a few.
At pyc, eating healthy food and getting plenty of exercise is reinforced in a dramatic way. Campers only receive healthy foods at meal and snack times. All campers are required to participate in all sports activities, unless a medical situation warrants that they should not. Provide and encourage your children to eat and choose only the healthiest foods and snacks.
Junk food wrecks good health. Children must be educated to avoid them.
Develop Social Skills
Don’t neglect to develop your children’s social skills over the summer. Children need to have contact with other children. Schedule education dates. Get creative with shared activities. Invite your children’s friends to go to a park for a picnic—have the children help make the food. Invite your children’s friends to go on a hike, visit the zoo, or go to a science museum. Many science museums provide hands-on activities for groups of children, so taking a crowd of children along with your family will not be a problem. Get the parents of your children’s friends to go along with you.
You could start a reading club for your child with some of his friends. Your child and friends could read the same book, and then you, along with another parent, could lead them in the discussion of the book. Exercising with friends is another great form of socialization.
When you put these seven suggestions into practice, you will eliminate the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. You can fill your child’s summer days with active, creative and productive education. Summer is a time for education! Make sure your child gets plenty of it.