Tag Archives: Changes

On an Intentional Summer Plan

The school year is wrapping up in North America. For many of us with school-aged children, this means our schedules will change because there is no school or we take a break from homeschooling. This is a good time for us to think ahead a bit, so that we are prepared for this change. This season with its different schedule offers us a great opportunity to further nurture our children’s faith, grow their love for family and neighbors, and even sneak in a little learning (shhh!) along the way. We don’t want to pass that up, do we?!?

It is most likely that all of us have great intentions for summer. Unfortunately, intentions alone do not reach goals. Making those intentions bear fruit requires planning and commitment. So, in order to best take advantage of this chance we’re being given, let us make a plan and commit to act on it! Our plan does not have to be grandiose: even a simple plan will help us head in the intended direction and will be very successful if we carry it out.

So, the question is this: what is our goal for this summer? Do we want to nurture our children’s faith? Do we want to help them better love others, building our family relationships and strengthening their friendships outside of the family? Do we want them to keep learning? It is very likely that we would like all of these things to happen! To keep it simple, let us select one area to commit to nurturing this summer. (Of course, we can select as many summer goals as we wish, but it would be better for us to select one and do it well than to try to attain all of them and find ourselves meeting none of them or quitting because we are overwhelmed!)

Once we have selected our intended goal for the summer, let us take a little time to consider how we can make it happen. We should brainstorm specific goals for that area that we are committed to improving, talk with our spouse (and our spiritual father, depending on what the goal is!) about it, research ideas of ways our family can make it happen, etc. Then, let us schedule steps in that direction, and write them into the family’s summer plans. These steps can be specific activities that will help us reach this goal or a simple checkup reminders along the way that are placed in our schedule to keep the goal fresh in our minds throughout the summer. The most important step of this process of attaining our family’s summer goal is this: we must do these things that we’ve planned that will help us reach our goal! At the end of the summer, our family should take a little time – even just a few minutes – to talk about the goal and how we succeeded in pursuing/attaining it this summer. We can review the things we did and learned, and then talk about how to continue applying the learning while still growing in this area as the next school year begins.

Each of us knows what our family needs, and in what ways we all need to grow this summer. It falls to us parents to make a plan and pursue it with our children. May God grant us wisdom, creativity, commitment, growth, and great joy as we press on together as a family to meet our family’s summer goal!

What is your goal for your family this summer? Share it below, and read on for links that you may find helpful as you make your plans!

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Our favorite find as we prepared for this post? This list of Orthodox things for kids to do over summer! Find a variety of suggested ideas that can work across many goals, here: http://www.theorthodoxchildrenspress.com/uncategorized/30-orthodox-things-to-do-this-summer/

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Our own personal mindset can make or break our work towards the family goal for the summer. Let’s choose to SAVOR this time with our kids, as suggested in this blog post (which also offers some ideas of ways to meet our family’s goal!):

https://orthodoxchristianparenting.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/savoring-summer-time-with-our-children/

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A great way to help nurture our children’s faith is to make it possible for them to attend Church camp. Check out this list to find one in your area if you have not already done so, and then send them to camp! http://orthodoxscouter.blogspot.com/2017/05/how-to-find-orthodox-summer-camps-for.html

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“How can we continue on our journey with Christ during the summer months?  Try implementing some of the ideas below and use them for inspiration in finding additional ways to keep your family close to Christ!” Read those ideas here:

http://www.antiochian.org/christianeducation/takethesummerchallenge

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One way we can work towards strengthening the relationships in our family by nurturing fun memories is through playing together. Check out the recommendations we offered in this blog if you need some fresh ideas: https://orthodoxchristianparenting.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/go-out-and-play-ideas-for-summertime-outdoor-fun/

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This blog post is geared towards home schooling parents, but the concept is applicable to everyone, especially if our family summer goal is to better love our neighbors. It offers some ideas of ways to help our children learn how to think beyond themselves and our family and to find ways to bless other people. Read more here: http://thecharactercorner.com/teaching-our-kids-to-be-a-blessing-to-others/

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One of the best things we can do with/for our children over summer to help them to keep learning is to read with them! Need ideas? Here are a few suggestions:

Picture books offer art AND a story line. Consider challenging yourselves to read as many of the best picture books as you can, this summer! Here’s the Caldecott list* (the Caldecott Medal is offered by the American Library Association to the “best picture book” written each year): http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/caldecottmedal/caldecotthonors/caldecottmedal

 

Historical fiction offers insights into times gone by. Here are one person’s top 45 historical fiction books for middle-years kids: http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/historical-fiction-books-for-kids/

 

For fantastic stories, look no farther than the Newbery Medal list. The American Library Association awards the John Newbery Medal to the “best chapter book” written each year. Find new favorites (and/or revisit old ones) from this list*: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/newberymedal/newberyhonors/newberymedal

 

*In both of these cases, be sure to check out the honor books as well: some years there are many, many amazing books written/illustrated. The “honor” books listed are equally fantastic as the “winners!”

 

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The Cross of Christ

As we approach our Lord’s crucifixion, let us prepare our hearts and the hearts of our students for this great wonder: that the King of Heaven and Earth, the Lord of Creation, would bow Himself to not only take on flesh, but also to be crucified for us and for our salvation. This week’s resources will be related to the cross. Once a symbol of death, it has for us as Christians become at once a symbol of Christ’s humility and of His power over death.

Here are a few suggested resources related to the cross, to use with children:

A short animated retelling of the crucifixion can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3UKd6LQKng

A longer version, also animated, is found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ndh7cfM7geQ

Find a variety of cross crafts for younger children here: http://www.catholicicing.com/cross-craft-for-preschoolers-a-bible-craft-for-the-letter-c/

Find a variety of cross crafts for older children here: http://www.daniellesplace.com/html/crosscrafts.html

Throughout Holy Week, look for additional resources that can be used to help children learn about the cross of Christ. Please comment, post, and share any resources that you have found helpful, as well! May these resources help us to focus on His great love for us; and also assist us in helping our precious students on the journey through our Lord’s death on the cross.

Preparing for School

For many students in the northern hemisphere, it is time to prepare to go back to school for another year. It can be difficult to transition from the carefree days of summer vacation to the rigorous schedule of a school year. But with a little planning and preparation as well as a lot of love, we can help our children to make that transition in a healthy manner!

First and foremost, let us pray for our children. Here is an Orthodox prayer for a child’s first day at school:

“Dear God, here are (names), ready for their first day at school. They have been counting the days. They are so thrilled. Be with them today when they go into unfamiliar rooms, when they see new faces (make them kind faces!), when they stand in the lunch line, when they are on the playground. Keep them close to You as they learn and grow and make friends. Protect them from harm. Watch over them on the way to and from school. And as they become part of a larger world, help me to let them go and gain experience that they will need to become a responsible part of Your creations. Amen.”

Secondly, let us talk with our children. We need to find out what they’re looking forward to, any fears that they have, and how they want us to pray for them as they begin the year. Also, we should continually be talking with them about their faith. Orthodox Christian children in America are in the minority, as far as their Christian faith is concerned, and we can help them to stay strong in their faith even while they’re around others who believe very differently. “Your children need to know who we are (as a Church), so that they will know who they are.” (For the context of this quote, listen to this great podcast or read its transcript:  http://www.ancientfaith.com/specials/episode/teaching_children_about_keeping_their_faith_in_the_context_of_being_a_minor.)

Let us also help our children to physically prepare for the school year. This may mean gradually adjusting bedtime/getting up in the morning time. It may mean revisiting ideas for packing lunch. It will certainly entail some shopping to ensure that our children have clothes that fit them, as well as school supplies that are needed. If your child has a favorite icon, consider doing this craft together, so he/she can take a reminder of their faith along to school: http://www.theorthodoxchildrenspress.com/diy-kids/tocp-diy-kids-back-to-school-icon-notebook/.

To be sure that we are ready for school, it would be good for us to go over this checklist of suggestions from Orthodox Family Life: http://www.theologic.com/oflweb/school/b2s01.htm. Although it was first published in 1996, this checklist still is applicable to Orthodox families today. The checklist includes a variety of suggestions for preparing students of different ages for school, and can be a helpful resource to ensure that we have thought everything through before school begins.

Everything that we do to prepare ourselves and our children for the school year will be helpful for their success! Let us pray, talk together, and do all that we can to help our children to be ready to begin the new school year with peace and an awareness of God’s presence with them! May God bless our families as we grow together towards Him, throughout this school year.