Summer Goals for Kids: 2017 Edition

Jul 3, 2017

We're a month into summer, which means our summer goals are well underway. Everyone has a different way of achieving the balance between structure and flexibility during the summer months, and the way I do it is with summer goals. This is our fourth summer setting goals, and I relish this time to teach and mentor my kids and encourage them to stretch themselves in new ways.

I first wrote about our summer goals in this post in 2014. Although the goals have changed each year, the process has stayed very much the same. I'll do a brief recap here, but I'd invite you to go back to that post if you want more information.

As the end of the school year approached, we sat down as a family and decided what things we wanted to work on over the summer (don't worry, I came with a pre-made list of ideas to try to sell to them). We like to set a variety of goals that fit into three overarching categories: educational, practical, and fun. If reasonable progress is achieved, we reward ourselves with a fun activity or treat at the end of each month (past rewards have included miniature golfing, snow cones, an IMAX show, a camping trip, etc.).

I thought I'd share the goals for each child and any specific thoughts on how they're going now that we've been working on them for a month. Some of the goals overlap between kids, while some are specific to them individually. I should also mention that we measure progress on these goals in a variety of ways; some of them are a "do it once, check it off" type of goal; others are more of the slow and steady variety. For example, I've learned from past years that setting a goal like, "Complete 4th grade math book" is just too much for only three months of summer, so now we might still have a 4th grade math book goal, but it is more about weekly progress instead of cramming to finish the whole thing.  (Goals from past summers: 2014 - 2015 - 2016)

Aaron, age 8 (almost 9)
  • Practical
    • Clean bathroom (this includes cleaning the counters and sink, the mirror, the toilet, the floor, etc.)
    • Sort, wash, fold, hang, dry laundry (this, along with cleaning the bathroom, make up his daily chores)
    • Chop fruits and vegetables
    • Improve backstroke
  • Educational
    • Memorize six paragraphs of The Living Christ (this is a family goal, and, sadly, we're already behind on it)
    • Finish Piano Adventures Level 3A
    • Work on Khan Academy (this is a math curriculum on the computer that both teaches and tests, and I like it because it sees what they know and then goes from there)
    • Coding (this was Mike's goal for them, and I believe he's using Scratch to help teach them)
    • Work on creative writing (I'm using this book for him, and I like it so far)
    • Learn U.S. capitols
  •  Fun
    • Learn three magic tricks (he'll use this book for ideas) 
    • Hike Mt. Wire and Mt. Grandeur
    • Complete four projects from Awesome Lego Creations (he got this book for Christmas, but I noticed that he never made anything out of it, and I thought he would like it if he actually gave it a try)
    • Take stuff apart with Dad (when Mike was a kid, he loved to buy things at the thrift store and then take them apart to figure out how they worked; this is Mike's way of reliving his childhood while passing along some skills at the same time)
Maxwell, age 7
  • Practical
    • Wash dishes/utensils (a daily chore--he washes the breakfast dishes, and I think our immune systems are all being bolstered in the process)
    • Learn to tie shoes (this is the third year this has been one of his goals--hopefully he'll master it this time)
    • Weed garden and flower beds (another daily chore)
    • Improve side breaths
    • Follow a recipe (my favorite food blogger, Mel, is doing a Cooking with Kids video once a week(ish), and we've been following along with that)
  • Educational
    • Memorize six paragraphs of The Living Christ 
    • Memorize multiplication tables
    • Finish Piano Adventures Level 1
    • Work on creative writing (I'm using this book for him) 
    • Coding
    • Learn 50 states
  • Fun
    • Learn three magic tricks (using the same book as Aaron) 
    • Do three science projects from Zap! Science (we've had this book for a couple of years and never done anything with it, so hopefully this will provide some motivation)
    • Hike Mt. Wire and Mt. Grandeur
    • Take stuff apart with Dad
Bradley, age 5.5
  • Practical
    • Make sandwiches/lunches (it took a little effort to teach him, but now he does it pretty much on his own, and it's so nice to be able to grab the lunchboxes when we go to the pool)
    • Learn to tie shoes (we'll see if we have better luck with him . . . )
    • Improve freestyle/side breaths
    • Wipe down kitchen table and sweep (one of his daily chores)
  • Educational
    • Memorize six paragraphs of The Living Christ
    • Work on 1st grade workbook (he doesn't have to finish the whole thing, but he's supposed to do a few pages in it every week)
    • Write in journal (he tells me what he wants to say, I write it down, and then he copies it into his journal)
    • Learn 50 states
  • Fun
    • Hike Mt. Grandeur and Mt. Wire
    • Complete three projects from Awesome Lego Creations (Aaron and Bradley are currently sorting all the Legos by color to facilitate this goal. Related: we have way too many Legos)
    • Walk to the library (we live very close to the library, but we rarely walk, and he always asks to do it, so this was his own idea for a goal)
    • Walk to Sonja's house (Sonja is his aunt who lives a five-minute drive away--he's never walked there before, and I think he wants to see how long it would take)
    • Take stuff apart with Dad
Clark, age 3 (this is Clark's first year of summer goals)
  • Practical
    • Make bed
    • Pick up toys
    • Learn to use the toilet 
  • Educational 
    • Learn the letters of the alphabet (all of my other kids knew their letters by this age, and Clark has about zero interest in it) 
    • Learn shapes
    • Learn how to write name
  • Fun
    • Put together a 24-piece puzzle
And that's it! As for my summer goals, well, just helping four kids complete their summer goals feels like a big enough goal to me. :-)

How do YOU achieve the balance between structure and flexibility during the summer months?


  1. First of all I think it's awesome that you are still doing this because when I'm pregnant or nursing, I can't keep daily tasks going during the summer. My older boys 12&8 are doing great at their daily jobs, and my 5 yr old will empty her half of the dishwasher and set her part of the table. But I can see how having specific goals makes life intentional. Before we moved I found my intentional parenting book and meant to read it, but we need more bookshelves and not all our books are unpacked so I can't find it. I love your summer goal posts!!

  2. Structure & flexibility? Hmmm...

    I work hard on weekdays to make sure the younger kids get up and do their daily jobs. They feed pets, water flowers, empty the dishwasher, fold towels, sometimes sort laundry, and read (yes, I have to make it a job). I also put a decent amount of effort into monitoring what they do on electronics. That's our structure. After mid-morning they are generally free to play until dinner time chores. I don't think the flexibility issue is as big now as it was when I had 5 young kids at home all at once and no one was over age 10 or 11 or working yet. I have much more flexibility now. I don't think my kids would go for goals like this (Corbin might...), but this is fun to read. I'm sure you have capable kids and I think they are doing a lot for their ages! (They are well-trained. ;-) )

  3. What a fabulous idea! I've always been a super big goal-setter myself, but I'd never thought about doing anything like this for my kid(s). I think next year, when my daughter is 3, I'll have to start implementing this! Thanks for sharing :)

  4. What a fun idea! My son goes to camp full time in the summer, so I don't have this struggle, but I love this idea anyway. I might need to try it at some point. My good friend and her family all set New Years goals, and I love the idea of kid goals.

  5. I'm glad your kids are enthusiastic about this. I sometimes had problems convincing mine about how much fun lists were :-) Those look like a great balance for summer.

    What song is Maxwell using for his 50 states? I'm still a fan of "Fifty, Nifty" although occasionally I forget some of the middle ones now that I'm old and decrepit.

  6. Me again! My (adult women) book club has just decided to have a relaxed August meeting. I'm to bring the Cybils Picture Book finalists to the meeting, and then we'll see what our favorite is. That might be something your boys would like as well, especially the idea that they get to pick a winner and then you can compare with what the actual judges said. You could also do this with the Caldicott; this year they had four Honor books so there's a pile for selection. But with the Cybils there's no flashy sign on the cover to give away the actual result.

    It just struck me as the kind of summer fun you are great at organizing. I made my kids read a lot of the Cybils books as I work my way through the finalists list, but it was more spread out as the library got things to me throughout the year. But a couple of times I managed to have most of a category in the same place so we could pile them up in order.


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