Providing a Catholic framework on the truth and meaning of sexuality, love, and family

Parent Tips May

Prepare for a Summer of Spice for Teens

2016 - SPICE Flower with Beth B - from past year

“No more pencils, no more books!”  While summer can offer a much-needed break from the rigorous schedule of homework, quizzes, science fair and after school activities, it’s no reason to dive into three months of Netflix.  Each Family Honor program teaches the importance of growing spiritually, physically, intellectually, creatively and emotionally (SPICE for short) and these five areas are a great guide for setting goals for the summer.

A simple way to grow spiritually during the summer is daily mass.  Attending every day might seem overwhelming, so try adding one or two days to the family schedule.  If summer routines involve more time in the car, download a Catholic podcast or pick up some Catholic talks on CD to listen to on the road.  Take time to read the gospel of the day as a family and discuss it at dinner (you can find it at  Older students can learn the Liturgy of the Hours- the psalms prayed by priests, religious and lay people throughout the word at different parts of the day.  ( offers instruction and an app for those wishing to learn more.)

Physical growth might be obvious during the summer, but as schedules get busier it can become an afterthought.  Summer can be a good opportunity for students who are less interested in team sports or dread gym class to find a physical activity they really enjoy that they may not have access to at school.  Look for interesting trails to walk or cycle. Try rock climbing, ballroom dancing or disc golf.  The local recreation center, college or library may offer free or very low-priced classes that can be a fun way to keep moving and learn new things over the summer.

Intellectual growth doesn’t stop just because school is out.  Go beyond the teacher’s summer reading list and have students make a list of books they would like to read and then reserve them through the local library (even if the shelves seem to offer few options, most libraries can find almost any book if the request is made).  Ask older siblings, aunts or uncles what their favorite books were as children and teenagers to get ideas about classics that might be otherwise overlooked.  Older students can assemble and advertise a business like selling lemonade, walking dogs, babysitting, washing cars or mowing lawns to practice time management and budgeting.

Creativity can go beyond summer crafts (although those are a great place to begin!).  Assign each family member a night that they’ll be in charge of planning and cooking dinner.  Re-decorate a shared space in the house or allow students to update the look of their bedrooms.  Put students in charge of assembling a playlist of new and classic tunes for upcoming road trips.  Consult the internet or library about growing vegetables, fruit or flowers and plan and maintain a summer garden or window box.  Younger students can build and decorate a fort with a cardboard box, older students can be more ambitious with hammers, nails and discarded crates or tarps (and the proper amount of adult supervision, of course.)

Summer visits with friends and family offer lots of opportunities for emotional growth.  Parents and students can make a list of topics that students can ask elderly relatives and friends about when they meet- like what was their first summer job or favorite activity to do during summer break?  If visiting with relatives isn’t on the agenda, write a letter or schedule a phone call to strengthen connections with extended family.  Designate an “electronic device free zone” at the dining room table or other gathering spot and offer fun incentives- like ice cream or a trip to the mall- if students can visit with siblings, parents and friends without reaching for their devices.

School may be out, but there are plenty of lessons to be learned around the dinner table, driving in the minivan and enjoying unscheduled time together.

Have a SPICE-filled summer!

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