My husband and I were blessed to be able to send one of our children to a private Christian school for Pre-K and Kindergarten. We are a blended family and only one of our children live with us full-time – otherwise we would have tried to do this for all of them. The biblical foundation and the amazing seeds that were planted during those two early and impressionable years have really made a difference in our 7-year-old daughter’s life. As it turns out, this also happens to be our most strong-willed child. So the early connection between life lessons and biblical application has done wonders to help us in shaping her emotional and spiritual barometer – and it has also helped to curb certain behaviors that we once struggling with. I guess God knew what he was doing when He worked it out for her to be the one to attend this school, huh?
Recently, my daughter, who now attends 1st grade in public school, made a statement that shook me to my core. When I was dropping her off to school in the morning, she stated very bluntly and with disappointment in her voice, “In this new school we don’t get to pray or read the Bible. We’re not even allowed to talk about Jesus.” Wow, I thought in that moment, how do I begin to tackle this in a way that a 7-year-old can grasp?
“If we don’t teach our children to follow Christ, the world will teach them not to.” – Unknown
She remembered daily prayer time, bible study, songs and devotional time at her old school, and she was longing to be able to express and enjoy her love for Jesus throughout the day at school like she had become used to doing – not just at home or at church. I never really understood the whole home schooling concept, but in that moment it all became so crystal clear to me why many Christian families decide to educate their children in this way.
When a family is, for lack of a better way of putting it, “sold out for Christ”, and trying to teach their children to not just believe in God, but to truly live for God, it’s sometimes challenging to help our children navigate the world. During these early years, so much of what they are learning is actually coming from outside the home. In a recent post, I’ve already thoroughly ranted about the negative impact of television on children (as well as adults). But I also think that a God-less school presents another hurdle for me to jump through as a Christian parent.
“If we don’t teach our children who God is, someone else will teach them everything He isn’t.” – Darlene Schacht
When I really sit back and think about it, on a given week day, my daughter usually has about 1 hour at home with me in the morning (which is spent getting dressed and ready for school), and then roughly 5 hours at home in the evening. And to make matters worse, as a full-time working mother, I don’t even get to spend all 5 of those evening hours with her. Thankfully, my husband’s work schedule allows him to be available to pick her up from school at 3:30, however by the time I get home from work and get dinner on the table, we usually have only about 2 hours of quality time to spend before her 8:30 pm bedtime. (Putting that in writing is just depressing! I spend 3 hours with my daughter a day, wow!)
To add insult to injury, as I mentioned before, we are a blended family. So that means that she alternates weekends between our home and her father’s home. So our weekend family time is essentially cut in half. But I digress…this post isn’t about the lack of time I get to spend with my daughter (although as I’m writing, it’s just one more thing I’m left pondering).
The bottom line is, when trying to raise a child in this day and age, with a moral compass and a strong biblical foundation, you have to get creative. You have to maximize those few hours each day, and reinforce your beliefs in creative ways that leave an impact.
I’ve shared below a few of the ways my husband and I are reinforcing our beliefs with our children. I hope these ideas are a blessing to those who are looking for inspiration. I also welcome your feedback and additional ideas. I’m always looking for insight from other positive, like-minded people!
6 Ways to Add God to Your Child’s Day
#1. Connect during morning cuddle time. If your kids are still young enough, and still enjoy invading your bed, use this cuddle time to connect and converse with them. My daughter is still at the age where she wakes me up each morning by climbing under the covers with me. My husband is an early riser – he leaves for work in the wee hours of the morning, and even on his days off, he’s usually up and doing something around the house or outdoors in the yard by 5:00 am. So it’s become routine for my daughter to get into our bed with me in the morning when she wakes up. On the weekends when our other 6-year-old daughter is visiting with us, she does the same. During this time we cuddle and chat, it’s the perfect time for mommy-daughter talk. Obviously this talk isn’t too heavy at the ages of 6 and 7, but even still, it’s an opportunity for me to ask questions about what’s going on with their friends, their teachers, etc. It’s an opportunity for me to minister to them on life’s issues – whether I’m comforting them about a disappointment, or sharing excitement about some upcoming event.
#2. Have breakfast with your child. While I do admit, most mornings in my house are spent rushing around to make it out the door in time for school and work. However when I’m able to, I do make an effort to sit down with my daughter over her bowl of cereal. Or if I’m simultaneously making lunch or preparing my briefcase, I at least stay in the kitchen and chat with her while she eats. This is another opportunity to minister to your child in your own way, inserting spiritual guidance as the Lord leads.
#3. Maximize car rides. On those days where I’m running late and can only grab a banana and a granola bar while we’re racing out the door, for her to eat in the car (yes, there are days like this and it just is what it is)…or better yet, on the days when she can’t find one of her shoes, or her homework, or her library book that has to be turned in that day, and I spend my morning running through the house like a maniac…I find that during the car ride to school I just have to slow things down, and focus on trying to set a pleasant and positive tone for her day. Some days we pray together for God to bless us with a great day, and to keep us and those that we love safe. Other days we talk about God or scriptures that she’s learned. Sometimes we put on our favorite worship song and crank up the volume and sing. I believe this gives her a good start for her long day at school, and it even has a tremendous impact on the start to my day as well.
#4. Find a faith-based hobby, sport or youth group for your child to participate in. After-school sports and extracurricular activities are usually the highlight of the day for most kids. My husband and I recently found an awesome faith-based basketball program that our 7-year-old daughter participates in, and our 6-year-old is looking forward to participating in the basketball league’s cheerleading program this summer. It’s called Upward Sports, and it’s described as the world’s largest Christian sports league for youth athletics. Their About Us page offers a great description of their mission, which is to promote the discovery of Jesus through sports. We are so fortunate to have recently moved nearby a local church that runs an Upward basketball and cheerleading program. Basically, it’s a regular basketball league, in that they hold weekly practices and games, and teach the children all the fundamentals of the sport. But the amazing part is, the coach’s minister to the children simultaneously. Each practice and game begins with corporate prayer, and halfway through they take a time out, and the kids are taught a quick 15 minute bible lesson. During the bible lesson, the children are given little colorful cards that have a scripture inscribed on them. The children are encouraged to commit these scripture verses to memory, and when they return the next week, the children that have the scripture verse memorized are congratulated by the coaches and staff. It’s a really great program, and if your child is interested in basketball or cheerleading, I encourage you to look into it.
#5. Include prayer and/or bible study into your bedtime routine. Bed time prayer is a great way to help your child decompress from a long day. Family bible studies are also important, and you can make them fun by using story books, audio tapes, and maybe even pull out a dry erase board to draw pictures to liven things up and make it more interesting for them. Our kids absolutely love our family bible study sessions. We give them the opportunity to pray out loud, and as we go around the room, each one of us lifts up our cares and concerns to God, and we pray for each other. It is so adorable to listen to them speak to God in their own special way, and demonstrate love towards each other openly while praying for family and friends. Sometimes they shock us with long, heartfelt prayers for the sick, those without food and shelter, and those who are in financial need. It’s so awesome to listen to the compassion pour from their young, pure hearts. Our little prayer warriors 🙂
#6. Enroll your kids in Sunday School or Children’s Church. Ok, I may be bias since I am a Sunday School teacher, however, I cannot emphasize enough the impact that Sunday School lessons can have on a child’s grasp of difficult biblical concepts, and on their ability to translate these concepts into everyday life. During this time, children are taught how to navigate the Bible, and are introduced to biblical history in a way that they can wrap their young minds around. Not to mention the art projects, crafts, songs and skits which are a ton of fun for them. Youth Sunday School programs are a great supplement to Sunday morning worship sermons, which are usually way over their heads. Many churches also offer Children’s Church, which takes place simultaneously, during Sunday morning worship service, and provides a great avenue for biblical instruction according to age level.