Summer: Creating Opportunities to Teach

A couple of summers ago, my kids had a case of what the Berenstein Bears call the "gimmes." You've all run into the "gimmes." You walk into a store, and immediately your kids start saying "gimme this" or "gimme that." It seemed as if my kids had turned into greedy children almost overnight. So, I decided we were going to spend the summer focusing on those less fortunate than we are. I created a summer "camp" around an Amazing Race theme. We called it "Passport to the World." Every week we "traveled" to a different country where we learned about the customs in that country and compared them to the way we live in the U.S. We also learned about a missionary in that country and the work they did.

By the time our summer was over, my girls and four of their friends had a good grasp on how people in the rest of the world live and how fortunate they were to be able to go to school, have enough to eat and not be limited in their options for life simply because of who their family is. They learned six Bible verses and ate some different foods.

Their attitudes had undergone a radical change as well. While we still get the occasional attack of the "gimmes" in our house, more often we find our girls looking for people in need and trying to meet those needs. We've continued to work with the girls and teach them about unselfishness, but the roots of what they learned came from that summer spent "traveling" around the world.

While most of the time, this blog is about finding moments to teach in your kids simply as you go about your life, summer is the perfect time to set aside some time to create an opportunity to teach your children. Great teaching takes place in the spur of the moment -- and we'll talk about that tomorrow -- but if you create an opportunity to put the spotlight on a character quality or other subject for the entire summer, you can take advantage of the time to really reinforce the concept.

Yesterday, I asked you to create a focus statement for your summer. Today, I'm going to walk you through the steps to create your own opportunity to teach your kids this summer. Your opportunity doesn't have to be as big as our "trip" around the world. You can take a half hour a week to get your point across, or you can do something every day. The amount of time you invest is up to you. The important thing is that you make the effort to provide your kids with a concentrated focus for the summer.

Begin by making a few decisions:

  • How much time do you have?
  • Do you want to work with just your kids or do you want to invite some of their friends?
  • How much money do you want to spend?
  • Do you want to do it all at your home or do you want to go elsewhere?
  • What resources do you need?
  • When will you meet?

After you've answered these questions, sit down and make a plan. Now, I'm not much of a planner. My plans for each week usually are just a simple outline, but you may be one of those people who need a detailed plan. Whatever works for you is what you should do. Your plan needs to include the Biblical basis for what you're teaching, any verses you want to share with your kids, whatever activities you're going to do and any resources you'll need.

You can create an entire summer of activity focused on your theme or you can plan to spend a few minutes each day simply talking with your kids about a topic. Whatever you do, make it fun and make it memorable. Let your knowledge of your kids be your guide in creating activities. If your kids love crafts, plan some craft activities around your theme. If they love sports, figure out a way to get some physical activity in your time together.

Make the most of your time together this summer by creating opportunities to teach your kids because the days will slip by quickly. Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens." In our house, we've found summer to be the season for creating opportunities to teach our kids, mold their character and have fun together. I hope this summer, you'll find that to be true, too.

Next week, the blog is going to focus on ways to teach particular topics during the summer. I'd love to know what some of you are planning to focus on with your kids this summer, so I can get you started. Leave me a comment here on the blog or on the Facebook page letting me know what topic you'll be creating opportunities to teach your kids this summer.