Reading is not a chore – Why Summer chore charts are a bad idea

As the school year begins to approach its end, I’m starting to see posts pop up on my social media outlining all of the ways parents can keep their kids “busy” while they aren’t in school. And let me tell you, I cringe and go on long rants to my husband every time (and if he isn’t home, my poor dogs have to listen to it).

Maybe you’ve seen something similar before too….

  • The “you can have the wifi password after you do these five things today” lists
  • The “read for 20 minutes, write for 20 minutes, color for 20 minutes” lists
  • The “complete x number of pages in your summer workbook before you can play outside” lists

And maybe you’ve even, just for a second, thought those looked like a great idea. I mean, after all, if our kids aren’t in school, shouldn’t they be doing something…. School-ish?

There’s a few things wrong with this logic though.

  1. Learning doesn’t only happen in a classroom or at a desk. Everything that your child does, especially when they choose it themselves, is a natural learning experience. When they’re mixing things in the kitchen, imagining with friends, drawing chalk pictures, or playing Minecraft…. Learning is happening! When you try to dictate what your child learns by insisting on a task completion or time limit, you’re not only taking the joy out of what should be a good learning experience, you’re interrupting what would otherwise be a valuable opportunity to make their own choices about how to spend their time. Which brings me to number 2….
  2. Play is important. Being bored is important. Doing “nothing” is important. Sure, in a classroom, every second of your child’s time is structured for them. But you know what? That’s not really for your child… that’s for the adults. It’s for crowd control. It’s for standards and discipline. It’s GOOD for your child to choose how to spend their time. It’s good for them to play and imagine for hours at a time. It’s good for them to be bored and find creative ways to occupy themselves. It’s also ok for your child to spend some time doing absolutely nothing! Not every moment of your child’s time has to be scheduled for them… give them the freedom and see what they do with it.
  3. READING IS NOT A CHORE. Don’t time your child’s reading… seriously, please… Don’t do this. Reading is something we want our children to learn is enjoyable, passionate, a way to get lost in a story, a way to learn anything we could possibly want to know, an escape, a whole new world! The moment we place a limit or a constraint on it, we’ve destroyed the possibilities. By the way – this goes for things like writing and creating, too. When is the last time you were able to create, paint, draw, write, or read and actually enjoy it because someone told you to?

If our goal as parents is to create passionate, lifelong learners who are creative, enjoy reading, love solving problems, and can be independent…. We have to start somewhere.

Convinced? Great.

So, what if you still really feel like your child needs some structure (or, rather, YOU need there to be some structure)?

Instead of a chore chart or a ‘must do’ list, consider these ideas:

Look at your environment. For a child to be able to confidently make good choices about how to spend their time, they need to have an environment that supports those types of choices! Is your space full of clutter that’s just overwhelming your child? Do you have any designated learning areas set up?

Feel like you need a total overhaul and support with this? Consider joining my free 5-day challenge “Epic Summer Spaces” starting April 29th – I’ll walk you through some things you can do to make your home one that is a haven for natural learning fun for your child!

Make a Summer Fun list as an entire family, and include all of the adventures and fun things that you want to do together this Summer. If everyone is feeling like the day is just kinda “blah,” head to your family list and choose something that you can do together to kick the boredom. My ebook 60 Days of Summer has tons of fun ideas you can add to your list!

Practice saying “yes” as often as you can. The reality is that most of the time, our children really can come up with a super creative and enjoyable way to spend their time…. It’s when they run into the “parent NO block” that prevents them from being able to carry on. When your first instinct is to say no or not right now, pause and ask yourself what the real reason you’re saying no is. More often than not, you can definitely make it a yes moment.

And there you have it! Recipe for the perfect Summer! Only one thing left for you to do….

Share this post to save all of your friends from the dreaded Summer Chore Charts nightmare!