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Mentoring Sons to a Successful Summer

To assist your son in developing systems to help him actualize his summer goals, download the free Heights Summer Planner here.

Click here to watch the follow-up webinar for this episode.

While summer is a time for rest and relaxation, it is also an opportunity for personal growth. Indeed, the increase in external freedom, which the summer months often afford our sons, provides an occasion for growth in interior freedom. 

In this week’s episode, Mr. Joe Cardenas, head of mentoring at The Heights School, discusses how you can help your son make the most of the summer months. To this end, Mr. Cardenas suggests looking at the summer from two perspectives: the bird’s eye view and the daily routine. Looking over the summer as a whole–perhaps with a calendar in hand–we can help our sons set goals and make big-picture plans. But goals without effective systems are mere wishes, so we should also encourage our sons to develop a good daily routine that will help him to realize these goals. 

In particular, Mr. Cardenas suggests five areas for routines: 

  1. Waking-up and going to bed
  2. Reading 
  3. Life of prayer
  4. Physical exercise
  5. Acts of service 

Of course, and as always, encouragement should come in the context of freedom and in an age appropriate manner; we want to help our sons set goals and formulate routines for themselves, not impose our own ideas in an overly rigid manner. One of the great advantages of the summer is, after all, the opportunity for our boys to grow in the use of their freedom.

Show Highlights

  • How summer can be a time of great personal growth
  • Two perspectives on the summer: the birds eye view and the daily routine
  • Ideas on helping your son make use of a calendar
  • Why increased freedom during the summer is an opportunity for growth in virtue
  • The importance of systems for success, not just goals
  • Areas for daily routines: wake-up time, reading plan, life of prayer, physical exercise, service, bed-time
  • How should parents discuss goals and routines with their son?
  • Three ways to help your son develop a summer routine: know your son, engage his freedom, share your own goals
  • Should my son get a job? 
  • Unstructured free time is just as important for older boys as it is for younger boys
  • Why personal growth is ultimately oriented towards the service of others

Suggested Reading

Leisure: The Basis of Culture, Josef Pieper

Additional Listening

Three Components of a Great Lower School Summer

Systems for Athletic Success

Summer Reading with a Purpose

Heights Resources


Free Printable Summer Planner PDF


Bodyweight Workout Plan


Heights Book Review (A review of contemporary literature for boys)

Heights Books (Books read for extra credit at The Heights)

Heights Summer Reading Books

Follow-up Webinar

About the Guest

Joe Cardenas

Head of Mentoring, The Heights School

Joe Cardenas is the Head of Mentoring at The Heights. Mr. Cardenas also teaches AP Art History, English Literature, and Freshman Theology.  Since coming to The Heights in 1994, he has organized cultural trips to Europe and service projects in South America. Mr. Cardenas completed his undergraduate work at the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned a degree in American history; he received his M.A. in Private School Management from Columbia University in Manhattan. He taught at The Head-Royce School, an independent school in California, and at inner-city programs in Chicago and the Bronx before joining The Heights faculty.

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