Adapted from “Now Is the Time Parents’ Guide” by Margi McCombs.
If you’re a parent, you might not share in your kids’ joy as you anticipate weeks and weeks of no school. By mid-summer, you’ve gone through an untold number of ice pops. VBS was ages ago. September is eons from now.
Unstructured time can be tough for parents, but the months of vacation can be a type of sabbath for kids. Like Sabbath, the free time offers opportunity for creativity, restored relationships, rest, and worship. What if you could take advantage of the absence of school work during summer to guide your children into deeper Bible engagement?
Anyone can do it
Leading your children in a summer Bible study may sound intimidating. But the Bible is accessible for any and every family. There’s nothing quite so powerful in a child’s life as sharing a meaningful spiritual experience together as a family. Learning to love God’s Word together strengthens relationships for life. Teaching your children to engage with Scripture doesn’t have to be complicated—all it takes is intentionality, consistency, and a desire for God and his Word. Why not start now, while the kids have a little extra attention to spare?
Admittedly, family devotions can often feel frustrating. Time constraints, kids’ attitudes, or just not knowing how to start prevent us from making Bible devotions a regular habit. Summer is a great time to practice—well, a new practice. You can offer your children a meaningful spiritual experience. How? By making the Bible stories come alive. By showing your kids that you’re excited about God. By letting them see how important an everyday, personal relationship with God is in your own life. By training yourself to see the timeless truths embedded in Bible stories and using this time with your kids as teaching moments. By sharing your own struggles in faith and practice so your children can know you better and participate in your spiritual growth, as you do in theirs.
Prepare for the journey
Family Bible study is a journey—and while some of it can feel like an upward climb, you’ll never regret making it. You wouldn’t set out for a mountain trek without equipping yourself for the adventure. In the same way, you should prepare yourself before beginning a study of God’s Word. Here are three suggestions:
Ask God every day to remove obstacles from spending this time together. Ask him to open your hearts to what he wants to do in your lives through the reading of the Bible, and to open your minds to understand the truth you encounter there.
Find out what you can about how kids learn
You know kids are learning all the time. You see how fast they pick things up, how quickly they can memorize new material and how detailed their memory is! Information comes at them all day long, from every corner, and somehow, some of it sticks. What makes the difference between what sticks and what doesn’t? Knowing just a bit about kids’ cognitive development and the stages of learning will help you get the most out of your Bible journey.
Become a student of your children
Discover how they learn best, what gets them excited, the best time of the day for them to learn, and where they’re most comfortable spending time together for Bible study.
Make the Bible come alive
There is a lot you can do to help make the Bible come alive for kids. The stories are action-packed and exciting, but it’s even more important that the spiritual lessons found in the stories will “stick” as well. Here are some ways you can help your young learner get the most from the experience. Try all of them!
Get excited about it
Children take their emotional cues from the adults around them. If you show excitement about your journey through Scripture and greet each new day with a sense of adventure and fun, they will too.
Do it with them
Everything you do with your child takes on additional importance to him or her and builds the relationship between you. Share your passion, show your interest, and have fun together.
Too often adults wind up reading the Bible to children rather than taking the time to listen to them read it themselves. Kids need to know that they can read and understand the Bible on their own.
Make sure your children have their own Bible, and take time to show them how to find passages in it. Make a visual connection for pre-readers by holding an open Bible while you are telling Bible stories.
Even very young children can memorize Scripture. Here are five memory verse activities to try. Memory work can be effective and fun. Consistency, incentives, and celebrations are the keys to sustaining a strong memory verse habit.
If a learner can draw or teach someone else what they’ve learned, it’s an indication that what was learned is now safely stored in long-term memory for later access and retrieval. Encourage children to illustrate the Bible story they’ve just heard and challenge them to teach it to someone else.
Act it out
So many of the stories in Scripture are filled with drama! Simple costumes and props can be added to a script taken directly from the Bible for fun and laughter while they learn.
Many of today’s kids are strong visual learners. Use well-produced Bible videos to enrich their experience in the story of Jesus. Check out the wealth of videos from The Bible Project.
Use the best of current culture to transmit timeless truths. New children’s Bible apps for tablets and mobile phones and online resources, such as games and videos, are being released every day. Stay on the leading edge of technological development—because that’s where your kids live.
Enjoy the journey with your kids! Consider how you can use family devotions as a mini-Sabbath in your day. Try singing a song together. After you study the Scripture, ask the kids if what they read prompts them to pray a certain way. Besides strengthening your family connection, your great reward will be watching them live in vibrant faith as they wrestle with their own brokenness (and yours). The world they are growing up in needs Jesus and the life-changing truth of God found in the Bible. Let this summer enrich their faith and equip them to face the world with a firm foundation in truth.
If you’re interested in more Bible resources for kids, check out the original source of this material at NowIsTheTime@americanbible.org
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