Some of you no doubt are anxious about your children starting with a new group this August. My advice would be to use the Summer as a time to carefully observe your child and ask yourself what good habits you hope to instill in these long weeks. If your child is small, maybe they need some kind of routine or order to their day. That doesn’t have to mean things always happen at the same time, but that they happen in the same order. A small child also needs to understand the concept of obedience to authority, especially with regards to safety concerns. As they are becoming more independent I encourage them to try to be “problem solvers” who try to work out solutions to things and think things through, including problems with their peers. Getting along with peers (the neighbor boy, a child at the park, etc) is HUGE. In a new space boundaries and clear ideas of what’s available and what’s not available are important. They are not too young for you to use words like “obey,” “available,” “not available,” etc. Also find a way to practice short separations in familiar environments with familiar people. Over 8 weeks an anxious child might just slowly learn to trust that you really will come back like promised! :)
For children who are a little older, make clear your expectations for appropriate behavior and praise them when they’ve practiced a new habit you’d like to encourage. Nip problems in the bud and try to be consistent (you and Dad need to be on the same page). If there are some stumbling blocks to progress, identify what the causes may be and make a plan to address those before moving forward. If tantrums or defiance are rearing their ugly heads, get to the root of the reasons for their behavior. Then make sure to press on and continue to progress, all the time focusing on anything positive you can find to praise.
The oldest set needs to take on responsibility. While every child at home can have jobs to do, these oldest children can tackle really impressive challenges, like cooking dinner for the family, helping do the grocery shopping, cutting the grass, doing the laundry, baking and decorating the family birthday cakes—real jobs that he or she will have to do as adults. If there is some part of a job that they or you are uncomfortable with (such as handling sharp knives or running machinery), break the job down into chunks that are manageable. With the whole summer to develop new skills, you can work backwards and plan a step-by-step approach to teaching even complex skills. It’s very exciting to see our young adults grow in responsible, contributing members of the family and of society!
I hope this gives you some ideas and I’m sure you’ll have your own as well. I look forward to working with you and serving this chapter. I praise God for the opportunity!