The summer is often met with the question, "What will you do with your free time?"
The reality is that there is no free time…there is only unscheduled time.
If an economic good is "a consumable item that is useful to people but scarce in relation to its demand," time has become for most of us an economic good. As adults, we often express thoughts like, "my time at home is scarce," or "I can't get enough time with my family."
Perhaps this is a teachable moment. For some children, the summer is spent with video games, TV, and hanging out. For others, it is a series of camps, organized play, and random structures that simulate the time spent in school.
Well, let's think about some priorities for this scarce commodity. First, what will children remember their summers to have been like? Family time is critical! This does not mean the expensive trips, but rather in the walks, talks, pretending, and visits with grandparents, uncles, and family friends.
Second is practicing those things that are areas of importance or interest. Gladwell's "10,000 hour rule" in the Outliers demonstrates, whether the Beatles, Bill Gates, or hockey players, the importance of practice.
History reflects that those who are exceptional at just about anything have spent significant time practicing.
The third priority is work. While family and practice can certainly seem like labor, it is critical to teach young people the relationship between work and money.
Jobs are tough, but small incremental lessons can contribute to a lifetime of learning. Work for many may be very fulfilling…but it is simply a means, not the end.
When the summer is over, help our children to say, "I spent time with my family; I got good at something; and, I learned to work."