“Mama?” asked my 12 year old, “Can we please do the Super Summer Challenge this year?”
“YES, My Love!” I unequivocally exclaimed. “I was already planning on it!”
Over the summers we’ve pulled off the Super Summer Challenge, my family has reaped many benefits from it. Among others, my children have
- learned new skills
- been motivated in areas of self-discipline
- discovered how to look outside themselves
- matured in sibling unity
- formed great habits that will last a lifetime
(from the website Simply Summer Fun)
I first heard about the Super Summer Challenge when I attended a local MOPS group. I think Aviana (my 12 year old) was five. The creator of the Super Summer Challenge is a local Quad City mom. Linda Wicks read the book Sanity in the Summertime back when her kids, who are my age, were young. Linda and her friend took a few ideas from that book and created their Super Summer Challenge program which they, and subsequently their children and other moms locally and around the country, have been doing for over 30 years now! It impacted her family and others so profoundly that she wrote a guide book so everyone could benefit, appropriately titled The Super Summer Challenge.
The program takes some preparation at the beginning, but once you have it all ready to go, your children and, most importantly, YOU will have a terrific summer. Essentially, you categorize things you want your children to work on, and some fun activities too, into four sets. We called our categories “Intellect, Body, Spirit, Caring”. Linda named hers “Thinking, Physical, Spiritual, and Caring and Sharing”. My clever friend Krista, DeWitt mom of four, titled hers “Brain, Body, Heart, House”. Then you assign points for each activity. You can give a weekly or monthly reward if you like to keep interest high. Then at the end of the summer, if ALL participants have reached their own point goal you have set for them, they get a big family prize.
Step one would be that you sit down and brainstorm, with your kids and husband if you want to, or with girlfriend on a coffee date (my personal preference) a list of ideas and objectives. Look at areas where you want children to develop self discipline, maybe cleaning up after their showers or being polite to each other. Then look at areas you’d like them to be motivated in, specifically areas they aren’t naturally gifted or don’t especially enjoy. For instance, you want your 8 year old boy to spend more time reading, so you would add “Read a Magic Tree House book” to his list. Maybe your 12 year old girl spends too much time reading and not enough time outside, therefore you would want to include “Walk a mile outside” on hers.
You can also include activities they’ll be doing anyway, such as swim lessons or VBS. Next, think of new skills you may want them to learn, for example, tying shoes or learning to knit. Also consider adding household tasks you’d like them to take over doing, e.g., taking out the garbage without being reminded, or doing the dishes without being asked. And finally, add a dose of fun! Maybe they’ve been wanting to put together a model with Dad, or they love playing outside with you; add those to your brainstorm.
When you have your list compiled, choose a reasonable amount of specific goals (7-10 for an elementary age child works well) for each child in each category and assign point values to them. Keep the point totals small, for instance, 3 points for reading a book to a younger sibling, 1 point for each Bible verse they memorize. When I say small, I mean small. You can set a weekly goal for younger kids to help them stay motivated with prizes, such as a family outing on the weekend. I know of some families who even use cash as a reward. Make it work for you. Add up the points they could easily garner for the period of time you’re doing the Super Summer Challenge, and then add 20-30 more to make it a challenge (depending on your child, some kids will lose motivation if it seems out of reach. You know your child!)
The trick is, at the end of the summer, that they ALL have made their goal, and then they get one big reward. We’ve used trips as our reward, and we don’t necessarily take them right away after the summer is over either. Delayed gratification can be a good thing. This program highly motivating, and yet difficult; that’s what makes it a challenge.
My children have loved doing it! You can read about some of our experiences, and get ideas for your own challenge on my blog. We’ve had a lot of fun, and it helps keep me accountable too! I highly recommend you try it.