As Christian parents we are all too familiar with Proverbs 22:6. You know the one, “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it” (NASB). We often only think of this in terms of spiritual and moral growth. There is an educational component to this as well.
When we began homeschooling, my husband and I had determined that we were raising godly adults to serve him. Yes, part of that raising included teaching them about God’s grace and salvation, and following a Christ-like life. To be able to teach them to serve God, we had to help them hone in on the gifts God gave them.
On the other hand, it’s just as important for our children to know what they aren’t suited for as well. When helping our children to find their God-given gifts or where they are not gifted, we need to put the textbooks and lesson plans on the shelf. Summer activities can give them a taste of something to see if they really want to pursue it.
It’s possible for children to be involved in sports year round. Summer sport leagues often are more relaxed and give kids an opportunity to really enjoy it, or learn athletics are not for them.
During summer baseball league, one of sons decided he really did want to be a professional ball player. He put in the hours and work to gain a major league tryout.
My other son, who didn’t really care for team sports, decided to give cross-country running. After a few weeks, he learned he just didn’t like running that much.
Go to the park
In nearly every area of the country, there are county, state, or national parks. You never know what may crop up on even a day visit. As we were taking a tour of a nearby park, the guide showed us a lookout tower and explained the job of fire lookouts and smoke jumpers. My baseball-playing son thought being a fire fighter might be a backup plan. After an overnight ride along at the busiest fire station in our county, he decided to look for another backup.
I can hear some of gasp because you’ve been trying to determine how to limit summer screen time. Just stick with me a minute.
Channels such as DIY and HGTV offer a number of entertaining and educational programs about various occupations, such as Yard Crashers (HGTV) or Building Alaska (DIY). Watching this type of program may encourage your child to investigate a trade not usually considered when career planning. You can spring board from this to some lesson plans for the upcoming school year.
My ten-year-old granddaughter decided she wanted to be a meteorologist (a meteorologist not a nightly news weather person) when she was eight. What prompted that choice? Watching tornado warnings on The Weather Channel. Now, at the age of ten, she requests books and videos about extreme weather as gifts. With the help of her parents, she is beginning to learn what she needs to learn to move into that career.
Visit local businesses
Usually reserved for field trips, visiting a local business can spark an interest. Don’t limit the visits to retail shops. Visit a real estate office, a bank, or medical facility. Call ahead for a good time to stop by. Have your children prepare some questions. Remember no question is too silly if it seeks to gain a tidbit of knowledge. Once again, as you listen to what your kids want to know, you determine if it is something to teach next school year.
Hang around your backyard
Another granddaughter’s interest in rocks started when she was two years old picking of rocks in the backyard. At fifteen, she’s no longer interested in any rock-related career, but she still pursues it as a hobby. Chasing bugs, watching grass grow, or looking for shooting stars may prompt an interest, which can grow into a future career.
Watch your children from afar. You may not have a chance to do this during the hectic school year. What do they gravitate to when left on their own? This can even include what games they play, books they read, and movies they like to watch. You might find a theme that matches a talent.
One of my sons was interested in anything audio in his early teens. He learned everything he could, even learning the physics of sound. No, he isn’t a sound engineer today. He’s a troubleshooter in a manufacturing plant. Through this hobby, he learned he’s good at thinking through and solving problems. That’s what he does at work. Something breaks, he thinks through all aspects of the problem, and starts the repair process. Not everyone, myself included, is able to do that well.
Don’t be in a hurry
Don’t push. Don’t start planning a detailed unit study for a topic yet. It’s easy to construe the initial excitement of an activity as a life-long pursuit. Be attentive to comments and activities that relate to the new subject. If it wanes in a week, it doesn’t match a talent or gift.
As with my troubleshooting son, the gift may not be the interest itself. It may be the skill needed to pursue that interest. My rock hound granddaughter has amazing skills at creating order out of chaos. A skill honed as she classifies her pile of rocks.
Training your child to be a godly adult is more than spiritual training. It’s finding the God-given gifts and preparing your child to be a productive and godly person. You and your child will see those gifts manifest in a relaxed atmosphere, such as summer activities.
Train up your children in God-given gifts and talents, and when they are grown they will use them to serve God and others.
When she’s not tending chickens and peacocks, Susan K. Stewart teaches, writes, and edits non-fiction. Her passion is to inspire with practical and real-world solutions. The Stewarts began homeschooling in 1981 and their three children all graduated from homeschool prepared for the real world. Susan’s books include Science in the Kitchen and Preschool: At What Cost? You can learn more at her website www.practicalinspirations.com.