Everyone’s plans have changed in the past few months. Adults and children alike are unsettled by the upheaval in daily life and expectations. Like me, you may be struggling to find the positive in the midst of shutdowns, cancelled plans, and constant changes. We can! By showing our children that we can find God’s purposes and joy in the midst of the unexpected, or even the unpleasant, we teach them to turn to God during hardship, to lift up their eyes and remember where their help comes from (Psalm 121:1).
One joy our family has found during this season is additional time together. I feel like God has given us this special time as parents, to reflect on what is truly important and make the most of the few years we have under the same roof with our children. But perhaps you are, like me, unsure of how to be intentional with this slower season!
We can use this time to bring day-to-day discipleship into our homes and teach our children about our faith. Here are some things that my family has incorporated during these slower months:
- EVENING FAMILY DEVOTIONS: Every night before bedtime, we read a short family devotional, sing, and pray together. This shows our children what Christian fellowship looks like, teaches them basic tenets of the faith, and gives them a safe place to talk about hard things. Use a children’s devotional book, or read through the Gospel of John or the Psalms.
- CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT STUDY: Choose a Christian virtue or fruit of the spirit to focus on each week and read related Bible verses together. At mealtimes, ask questions like this: “When someone demonstrates [love, joy, peace…], what does that look and feel like?” This teaches our children how to recognize Godliness in themselves and others. Create artwork representing this virtue and verbally affirm your children when you see them or someone else portraying it.
- FAMILY BIBLE STUDY: Our simple Bible study time is a highlight of my summer. This strengthens basic academic skills and enables children to go deeper into God’s Word than they usually can during Sunday School. If possible, use age-appropriate children’s Bibles, storybooks, or Bible apps so everyone can participate at the same time and learn on their own level.
- COUNTRY OR CULTURE STUDIES: Who says a summer without travel has to be boring? Bring countries, peoples, and cultures alive in your own home! Create a small passport for each child, hang a world map on the wall, and spend a little time each day “traveling”! Use the Internet to find fun crafts and games from different countries. Create a dish or snack from the country you are visiting. Invite older children to do some research and share what they learn with your family. Learn about the religious beliefs of the people you are focusing on and pray for them to come to know Jesus. Participating in cultural activities and intercessory prayer helps to cultivate God’s heart for the world in our children.
- CHRISTIAN BIOGRAPHIES: Read short chapter books on Christian heroes together as a family. We’ve read lots of them with our boys and they’ve sparked interesting conversations as we’ve learned about different believers through the ages and how they sacrificially lived out their role in God’s mission.
Choose a few of these ideas to implement in your home. They will help bring joy and purpose to an otherwise challenging time. Your children may remember the new family rhythms you create during this season more than the missed sports league games, cancelled vacation plans, or forced separation from friends.