It was the year of chocolate in our daughter’s public school class. I honestly don’t remember what grade it was, but her teacher had done a unit on chocolate. It had included some lessons about how chocolate was grown and processed. The teacher also discussed chocolate’s origins with American indigenous populations.
We were headed to Mexico on a mission trip and decided to try and find an authentic Mayan Mexican chocolate pot, so we could make Mexican hot chocolate at home. For some unknown reason, there were none to be found in the tourist areas. My daughter and I ventured into the “regular people” areas of town and found ourselves deep in the central market.
We were forced to use our limited Spanish to communicate. We saw all sorts of things we had never seen before. (Let’s just say we stop eating meat when we were there!) While we were searching, we had lots of conversations about culture and people and missions. We talked about the importance of getting away from the tourist mission trip experience and trying to better understand real life where we served. In fact, over a decade later, we still mention that adventure from time to time.
Part of the problem with our loss of young people is we have allowed our lives to become extremely compartmentalized. School is secular and what we learn there has nothing to do with God or our faith. Years ago, that wasn’t the case. Even today, some public school teachers will weave their faith gently through their teaching. Yet, society pushes harder and harder to keep “church” in the church buildings.
The way to raise children who are faithful Christians as adults is to make their Christianity, their faith, part of their identity. The Bible details the ways it was done (or not done) – particularly in the Old Testament. God was woven through everything in godly homes….holidays, education, tragedy, celebrations and more.
One great way to make God a part of your family life is to make as many connections as you can between what your kids learn in school and God. Now, you don’t necessarily have to take a trip to Mexico or even homeschool to do this. There are some even easier things you can do on a regular basis that will help your kids begin to understand God is woven through everything in life – whether their teachers acknowledge it or not.
Here are some of my favorite things to do.
- Have discussions about material studied in school. This is usually easier with upper elementary and above students. Your kids will be subtly fed all sorts of philosophies through their curricula. History, English, Science, Social Sciences, even other languages lend themselves to writers slipping in their philosophies. Unfortunately, curricula authors and teachers aren’t expected to tell your kids “I believe this because I am an atheist.” or “I was taught this when I studied Buddhism.” Encouraging your kids to share those tidbits and then comparing them to what God teaches can make for some interesting conversations. Just be careful how you approach those discussions. Many children adore their teachers and will stop listening if you become very critical of them.
- Use Teach One Reach One activity ideas for tutoring or exploring school topics. Our parent ministry has free activity ideas designed for faith-based tutoring programs to tie secular school topics back to the Bible. Many of these activities can be easily done by your family at home. We have activities for ESL, language arts, math, science, health and hygiene and even sustenance and survival.
- Connect your kids to Christians who specialize in those areas. Our congregation is blessed to have a member with a PhD in astronomy. He has basically a museum of everything from fossils of dinosaurs and their eggs to artifacts from Bible lands and times. He loves to show them to the kids at church and patiently answers their questions. The kids get so excited when they see him bringing in some of his treasures. Because of his faith and his background, he is able to connect God back to science in meaningful ways for them. If you start asking around, you may be surprised what experts attend your church and how willing they are to share with your child or a group of children what they know and how they connect their faith back to their areas of expertise.
- Be intentional on family adventures. Whether it’s a family vacation or a trip to the local zoo, there are lots of ways to connect God back to lots of topics. You don’t have to go overboard. Often just an intentional comment about one thing during the trip is impactful enough. At other times, your kids may get extremely engaged and stay stuck on the same topic and it’s connections back to God for hours or even days. Take advantage of those teachable moments and don’t let them slide by.
You don’t have to connect everything your child does in school back to God. Doing so on a regular basis though, will help them begin to understand how God does and should be part of every facet of their lives and not left outside of the school door while they go learn about “real” things.