Ready or not, summer is coming!
Our family is in the final week of the school year. I can feel that “take a deep breath everything is going to be fine” feeling right before a big transition in routine. I love my kiddos and enjoy doing things with them (if I’m not completely worn out), but as a full-time work-at-home-mom whose busiest work season is the summer, who will now be staying up late to get enough work done because the kids are home all day, summer can be really stressful.
This summer is special though because my oldest will be entering the public school system this coming Fall. And that transition is full of anxiety and excitement! I was that weird child that loved school so I’ve been looking forward to my children being part of the school system, myself volunteering where needed, and being the “cool” house where friends come over to play.
But I’ve also felt a deep responsibility to spend this summer preparing my son for the next year of school. Beyond practicing his read and writing skills, it has been on my heart to spend the summer reminding him what we believe and how that shapes the choices we make and the way we live.
I came across the “New City Catechism” earlier this year and love the idea of using memorization to help instill the basic truths of our faith in our children. While the entire 52 questions and answers listed in the book don’t fit our children’s age level, I’ve taken ten of the questions and answers tweaked them just a bit for our family and made a flexible guide for our summer (it helps me to see it all mapped out or it will just remain an idea in my head). This won’t be done in a stern, overbearing way, of course. But with fun and delight as we explore together what we hold to be true and discover how that impacts our lives.
For example, the first week the question is “Who is God?” and the answer is “God is Creator of everyone and everything” (the Catechism includes deeper questions and answers for older children, but I’m aiming mine out my young children). I don’t want them to just have the knowledge but also the ability to go “Okay, I believe this, so how does this shape the way I live?” So along with memorizing the question and answer, I plan to make it a priority to spend the week asking the kids in a natural, as things come up way – “What’s that?” “Do you think God created that?” “God is so awesome. Why do you think He made that?” We might also play games centered around creation or read books about animals or weather, or we might do some art projects and remind us how in his own image God made us mini-creators too.
I am super excited for some fun times helping my kiddos learn what they believe. The world is full of voices telling us what is the truth so I want to – in an enjoyable, and intentional way – teach them what we hold to be True.
Perhaps you like this idea, but the Catechism isn’t the way you want to go.
- What about spending the summer looking at the story of Creation, focusing each week on a particular day of creation?
- Or you might feel the need to focus on building your children’s character. You might spend the summer discovering the Fruit of the Spirit taking a week to look at each fruit. Take time to ask your kids where they saw that attribute that day. When did they choose to be kind? How did Momma show that she loves you today? And as you find yourself going through the day, take time to ask your kids – How can we be gentle in this moment? Or kind to this friend we are playing with? (Another helpful tool for this can be found here).
- Perhaps your children are older – say in those significant teen years – what a great time to discuss the wisdom of Proverbs, the Sermon on the Mount or the practical words of James! The great thing about teenagers is that they have their own ideas! Read through James together – ask them what the passage is saying, what stands out to them, and how they can put what is read into action. Then support those ideas in a fun, relaxed way. There’s some great room for outreach in those words also. Hands-on activities are important for our teens too!
- In the book, “Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family” one family told of how they would focus on a biblical theme (such as the Fruit of the Spirit) for their summer vacation. The theme might shape the activities such as a trip to the zoo as part of look at Creation, or how they interact with each other during the day – taking time at the end of the day to talk about when saw the Fruit of the Spirit displayed in their family during the day. You might even have a “Theme Song” for the trip that goes along with your theme.
- Or perhaps you want to help a particular outreach in your community for the summer. Do it! And study the Parable of the Good Samaritan or Jesus’ teaching on The Sheep & Goats helping your children see the connection between taking the time to help others and Jesus’ teachings.
- Our family is also going to work together to memorize Matthew 22:37 – 39 this summer. Committing to memorize key passages of Scripture can also be an intentional way to pour truth into your children. And don’t just memorize it, talk about it, discuss how you can put what it says into practice and then work on doing that. What a great discipline for us all – children and parents!
In all of this, we don’t want them to just have the knowledge but also the ability to say, “Okay, I believe this, so how does this shape the way I live?” I believe it is imperative for our children to have a foundation of knowledge, but if we don’t help them learn how to discern what it means for the way they live, it’s just knowledge. It’s not life-transforming. In all of this we are teaching them a way to interact with Scripture, God Himself, and the world He has placed us in. We are teaching them to think about and put into practice what they believe. That’s a pretty important skill if you ask me.
We live in a fast-paced, hectic culture. If we don’t take the time to be intentional about strengthening our children’s faith, it isn’t going to happen. Let’s not be carried along by the culture, but find new, purposeful ways to build our family’s faith. Let’s make this summer count.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-8
Do you have ideas you would add to this list, Mom and Dad? Will you consider joining me in making this summer a time when we can intentionally strengthen our children’s faith?
Father God, inspire us. Show us what our kids need to “learn” this summer. Write Your Truth on our children’s hearts that they might never be shaken. When doubts come, help them recall the Truth we hold on to. And as we develop these plans to strengthen their family, may we not give into distractions that would keep us from the doing. Please take these little plans and do something monumental in our families this summer. Thank you, Father. Amen.