I’m homeschooling my kids this summer. I don’t homeschool year round (they go to a very lovely Christian school during the school year), but just in the summer so they don’t forget everything they learned the year before.
Apparently kids can lose up to a month’s worth of learning if they don’t practice their skills regularly over the summer, and that’s definitely something I want to avoid. I want them to practice and have that competitive edge.
So I’ve been spending the last few months doing a bit of planning and research: What skills do my children most need to practice? What skills do I most want them to learn? What really good resources can I find to keep it fun and educational for them, but still super easy for me?
And as I sat down to determine what summer homeschool would look like, there was one thing I knew right away: As important as it is to teach our children math and reading, it’s just as important that we teach them to follow Jesus.
You see, if my kids are great readers and math whizzes, but I haven’t modeled and taught a close relationship with Jesus, I’ve failed as a Christian mother. Especially since incorporating spiritual learning into our kids’ lives is SO EASY!
Want to do the same with your kids (whether or not you’re adding in the math and reading as well)? Here are 6 easy ways to nurture your children’s faith this summer:
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1. Read Christian Books, Bible Studies and Devotionals
One of the easiest ways to nourish your children’s faith this summer is to have them read Christian books, Bible studies or devotionals that are written just at their level. Just like how you probably read the Bible and other Christian Living books to help you grow in faith, your kids can do the same, and the sooner you start the better!
Just be sure to choose good ones they’d actually be interested in and have fun with — DON’T make them go read as some type of “punishment” for misbehaving.
I just purchased the A Boy After God’s Own Heart Action Devotional for my oldest to read through this summer, in addition to his Bible. He really enjoys reading, and this one looks like a great fit for him.
I wish the chapters were a bit longer, but it’s his first devotional, so I didn’t want anything too in-depth and heavy.
Amazon has TONS of different devotional books for kids of all age ranges if you want to browse and see which ones your kids might be most interested in. You can find a bunch of kids’ devotional books here.
The Little Words Matter Bible Storybook for ages 0-3
The Beginner’s Bible for ages 4-8
The Adventure Bible for Early Readers for ages 6-10
You can find all of these Bibles and a whole ton of other good ones on Amazon.
2. Watch Christian Movies or TV Shows
We love reading books in our house, but if your children don’t particularly love reading or if they’re too little to read, you aren’t out of luck. There are tons of Christian movies and TV shows that accomplish the same purpose.
Veggie Tales is always a popular choice for children (and even adults!) of all ages. Kids love them because they’re so fun and funny, but they also teach lots of great life lessons and Bible stories too.
Plus: If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can actually watch Veggie Tales right on Amazon through their Dove channel.
Plus, have you heard of the “What’s in the Bible?” DVD series? It’s a series of 13 DVDs created by the same person who created Veggie Tales, and it walks kids step-by-step through the Bible with really fun and catchy Bible story cartoons. We haven’t watched these yet, but I’m hoping to watch one a week throughout the summer. I think it’d be really fun, educational and interesting.
You can check out the whole collection of “What’s in the Bible?” DVDs here.
3. Memorize Bible Verses as a Family
“I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.”
While reading the Bible regularly is a fantastic start, it’s also important to teach our children to memorize what it says as well. Thankfully, this is pretty easy.
Go check out this post: 10 Simple Bible Verses Kids Can Memorize and pick out a few of your favorite verses you’d like your children to commit to memory.
Then, find fun ways to help your children (and yourself!) commit them to memory. For example:
- Making up motions to go along with the verses
- Putting the words to catchy tunes
- Writing them on notecards and putting them where you’ll see and read them often
- Repeating them together as a family every day
- Saying the verses multiple times, taking a word out each time until they’re saying most of it by memory
When you and your children have verses committed to memory, they become a part of you, and the Holy Spirit absolutely will bring them to mind right when you need them to most.
You won’t have to wonder “What should I do in this situation??” The Holy Spirit will prompt you with His Word, even when you don’t have a Bible nearby.
4. Find a Good Vacation Bible School
Does your church offer Vacation Bible School? If so, this is a great way to help your children get excited about church and more involved in a good Christian community.
My older two have been going since they each turned four, and they LOVE it! Not only do these get to do fun activities, play fun games and eat yummy snacks, but they also learn a ton about Jesus and the Bible and whatever special theme the teachers are focusing on that year.
If your church doesn’t have vacation Bible school available, it’s definitely worth calling around to other churches in the area to see if they offer one. You do NOT have to be a member of a particular church to go to their vacation Bible school. Chances are, they’d be more than happy to have your children.
Additionally, don’t forget about Sunday School or Wednesday night activities as good ways to keep your children connected to the Church and learning about Jesus and the Bible all summer long. And again, if your church doesn’t offer these activities (mine doesn’t), it’s totally fine to supplement what your church offers with additional programs from other churches nearby.
5. Take Advantage of Teachable Moments
“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.” — Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Of course, while structured activities like Vacation Bible School, Sunday School and Wednesday night programs do provide many great opportunities to grow in faith, you don’t want to skip all of the wonderful opportunities you have in between, either.
Literally every single day provides SO many opportunities for you to model and teach Christian love, service and behavior to your children — you just have to keep your eyes open for teachable moments! For example:
- When your children are fighting: Have a conversation about brotherly love and how we should treat all people, especially our siblings.
- When you see someone who looks “different” or is “differently abled”: Have a conversation about how God loves all of us and made all of us unique and how neat that is.
- Read the Bible with your children around: Let them see you living out your Christian walk so the Christian disciplines are normal, everyday activities to them.
- When you mess up: Apologize to your children and model how to make things right.
By the way — if you find that many of your teachable moments often center around appropriate behavior, you should definitely check out my book, “TEACH Your Children How to Behave.”
In it, I lay out a step-by-step, Bible-based framework for teaching appropriate behavior that really works.
6. Look for Opportunities to Serve Others
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” — James 1:27
Lastly, while reading books and taking advantage of teachable moments are two great ways to grow in faith, Christianity isn’t just about being a “better” person. It’s so much more than just a life-improvement plan.
Real Christianity also includes helping others draw closer to Jesus and receive the help and resources they need as well.
Just like teachable moments, opportunities to serve others outside of our immediate family pop up pretty much every day if you keep your eyes open to look for them. But if you’d prefer to be more pro-active about creating teachable moments for your children, you may want to check out 9 Service Projects Your Preschooler Can Do or 52 Random Acts of Kindness for a More Charitable New Year for tons of easy service ideas you can do with your children.
Are you planning on doing anything to help your children grow in faith this summer? What activities or ideas do you have planned? Share in the comments below so we can all benefit from them!
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