By: Bethany Newcomb, Elementary Ministries Director The elementary years are exciting ones as you get to watch your child begin to learn things in school that will serve them the entirety of their adult lives, as well as getting to see them develop things unique to them that they are passionate about such as a sport or musical instrument. Here are a couple ideas that will help you and your child successfully navigate these years and help you know how to invest in this stage of your child’s life.
Schedule Wisely Not Wildly
Living in the Seattle area, the opportunities available to your children are almost limitless. From organized sports to music lessons to boy scouts, every waking minute of your child’s life could easily be filled. As the captain of your child’s life, it is up to you to set their pace of their life. It is always hard to say no to adding something that would be a fun experience, but it is crucial for you to consider whether or not having one more thing that demands time and attention is a sustainable addition to your child’s life. Each child’s capacity for activity is unique to them. There is no magic formula that will build a balanced schedule for you. It is important that you take note of how tired your child is, whether or not they are in good spirits, and how often they express feeling overwhelmed or stressed; these can be indicators of being over-scheduled. In his book Confident Parenting, Jim Burns writes, “We were not meant to be machines that run until they burn out. When a family finds a healthy rhythm, everything seems to work better.” Rather than assuming that the more things your child is able to do the happier they will be, care for your child by taking the time to formulate their schedule wisely not wildly.
Moments and Memories
It seems fitting to follow-up an encouragement to not over-schedule your child with an encouragement to make sure that family time is a consistent part of your balanced schedule. How often do you have dinner, play a game, go on a hike or bike ride as a family? It is easy to be so busy that we are almost always either recovering from what we just did or preparing for what we have to do next. This does not allow the space to be able to enjoy the moment you are in. Finding things that you enjoy doing together as a family, creating memories, laughing together, and being intentional to have enough margin in your life; this is an investment that will serve you well in your family experience. Though they may at times resist some of your attempts at family activities, your children will one day be grateful that you cared enough to take the time to be in the moment with them.
Be A Discipler
Read these beautiful words found in Deuteronomy 6:4-7:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
Do these words inspire or intimidate you? While the task of discipling a child can be can be intimidating and daunting at times, my prayer is that it is one that you are inspired to take on by these and other verses in the Bible. Consider the words of Reggie Joiner in the book Think Orange, “Most parents can’t give their children a lavish inheritance, but every parent will leave a personal legacy.” Will the personal legacy you leave be one of lovingly and gracefully encouraging a love for the Lord and spiritual growth in your child? Discipling your child can take many different forms from reading the Bible and praying to conversations on how they should handle difficult or challenging situations. One key to engaging your elementary age child in these activities is giving them ways to actively participate. Ask THEM to read the passage or be the one to pray. Before telling them how you would handle the situation they are facing, ask them how they think they should handle it. As you disciple your child, be sure to be watching for the things the Lord will teach YOU through the experience.