Planning for a Successful Summer


The first few days of summer can be fun for both kids and parents. It is wonderful to break out of the school routine and decompress a bit. But shortly thereafter, reality sets in, and it is time to implement your summer plan. Summer is a wonderful time of relationship building and fun in your kids’ lives. You have the opportunity to make memories that will stay with them for the rest of their lives! And it is also a great opportunity for growth. All of this ?fun, memory making, and growth’ require advanced thought and planning and the time to begin is now! Let us help you with some tried and true steps to making this the best summer ever for you and your family!

A great summer time requires a lot of thought and advance planning. But, the investment you make in preparing for summer vacation will result reaping great benefits both in the lives of their kids, and also in the overall family as well. It’s well worth the effort!

Planning for a successful summer is more than filling each day with activities. It’s more strategic than that. So, what’s a parent to do? Mary Perdue, a long-time HomeWord employee and mother of three, has been implementing a successful summer vacation plan with her children for years. We hope you’ll find what Mary has learned by her own experience and research over the years helpful as you prepare for the upcoming summer season.

Schedule the Big Items:

Sooner, rather than later, get your calendar out and schedule the big items you know will be a part of your kid’s summer experience: family vacation, camps, mission projects, visits to relatives, etc.

Take the Big View:

While getting summer events and activities down on the calendar is important, don’t get caught up in the idea that it’s all about filling in dates with random activities. Take the big view of each of your child’s lives. Be proactive in considering the following four areas of personal growth, begin to think through and make a list for each of your children of what you want to see accomplished in each their lives this summer.

1) Physical Growth. All kids should be physically active each day. If one or more of your children have specific physical concerns (for example, if they need to build up their aerobic endurance, etc.), find a way to address it in your summer plan without making it a big deal. Incorporate these areas into a sport or other activities, like family hikes that you plan during the summer. What to consider:

  • Physical challenges or goals for acquiring particular skills and exercise requirements
  • Ideas for achieving goals and requirements. Some family activities can crossover and help to accomplish your individual kids’ physical needs.


2) Emotional (Relational) Growth. All kids mature at different rates, so you’ll have to tailor the plan for each of your kids. Again, when it comes to relationships, you can incorporate family activities (from playing board games together, to outdoor sports, etc.) to help each child work on the area of development most needed. What to consider:

  • Compassion
  • Anger management
  • Self-control
  • Team-building
  • Trust
  • Decision-making
  • Responsibility


3) Intellectual Growth. Summer is not a season where kids stop learning. All kids can benefit from reading something everyday. Intellectual growth goes beyond reading however, and you’ll want to consider what areas of learning your kids need to work on most, so you can find practical ways to put this in your summer plan. Set aside a half-hour or hour (or more!) every morning for learning activities.

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What to consider:

  • Academic areas. Check in with teachers before the summer and ask what academic area(s) where your child needs the most work.
  • Summer Reading. Plan through your local library or just make your own chart/reward system.
  • New skills, interests or hobbies. Many communities offer free or low-cost lessons ? and a great opportunity for your child to learn ? especially when it is something they are motivated to learn.
  • Games that are fun and educational (Scrabble for instance.)


4) Spiritual Growth. While your child’s spiritual growth is always a concern, summer provides extra time and opportunity to focus on the specific areas of faith development for each of your kids. Typically, most churches with youth ministry programs offer lots of summer opportunities for spiritual growth, from Bible studies to camps to service and mission projects. And, you can plan your own family projects to help needy families, visit nursing homes, or help neighbors with yard work or repairs.

What to consider:

  • Specific areas of spiritual development (compassion, love, service, sacrifice, etc.)
  • Christian worldview issues (morals and values)
  • Apologetics (knowing what and why they believe)


Putting the Plan Together As you consider the various goals you have for your kids ? and what activities throughout the summer can help achieve those goals ? begin to schedule on your calendar how all the activities fit together. Develop a specific routine to begin with, then adapt and adjust as you go along. Flexibility is an important component to summer, and will help keep everyone in the family sane!

Be sure to include activities in your summer plan having no agenda other than fun! So many of life’s most memorable moments ? learning experiences included ? happen in the moment, regardless of what you have planned. Not everything you do needs to be scripted in order to have your kids work towards the goals you have identified. So perhaps planning “Field Trip Fridays” where you change up the activity every week (beach, park, amusement park, hike, etc.) can be just the prescription for both fun and growth along the way! Schedule these in advance and invite other friends and families to join along with you. This is a great way to expand the fun factor for your kids and others!

Both planning and being proactive are keys to a successful summer. You’ll also find that evaluating and adjusting the schedule according to your family’s needs along the way is wise. Again, the goal is not busyness. The goal is to take advantage of this annual break in the normal routines to not only keep your kids growing, but to build your family relationships and cherish these very fleeting moments during our parenting years!

Note: If you are not a stay-at-home mom or dad, or work out of your own home, you’ll face greater challenges in planning and carrying out a summer plan for your kids while attending to your own busy schedule. Even in these instances, advance planning and scheduling is still the key and will help relieve some of the stress you’ll encounter if you fail to plan. Advance planning will absolutely help you and your family to make the most of your summer experience!

Copyright © 2006 Jim Burns, Used with permission.

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In response to the overwhelming needs of parents and families, Jim Burns founded HomeWord (formerly YouthBuilders) in 1985. HomeWord is a Christian organization designed to provide assistance to adults worldwide as they help young people make wise decisions and lead positive, vibrant, Christian lifestyles. Multiplication and Leverage: While absolutely committed to young people, HomeWord equips parents, grandparents and youth leaders; those who daily reach out to kids. By equipping adults, and leveraging those adults to reach kids, HomeWord reaches more young people more cost effectively.

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About Jim Burns

bio-burnsJim Burns, Ph.D., is a renowned youth and family expert, an acclaimed author, and the founder of HomeWord, a radio program that reaches more than a million people across the country each day. In partnership with Azusa Pacific University, he established and now provides leadership for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family, a research and training institute offering biblically based resources for parents and youth. Under Burns, the center has become the largest provider of Christian parenting and youth seminars in the United States. His passion is communicating to adults and young people practical truths to help them live out their Christian lives. Burns is a three-time Gold Medallion Award-winning author and has written books for parents, youth workers, and students. He also speaks in person to thousands of people each year around the world. Burns and his wife, Cathy, and their daughters, Christy, Rebecca, and Heidi, live in Southern California. For more information about Burns, visit
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