Faith: Preventing Summer Spiritual Slump for Children and Adults

Googling “summer slump” results in many ideas for parents and grandparents about helping children continue to learn and grow while school is out. For example, check out PBS-TV’s Reading Rockets, “Get Ready for Summer! Ideas for Teachers to Share with Families.”

An important area of growth for children, year-round, is their spiritual development, and there are many positive benefits of nurturing spiritual growth, according to a recent study by a top public health school.

“Participating in spiritual practices during childhood and adolescence may be a protective factor for a range of health and well-being outcomes in early adulthood, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Researchers found that people who attended weekly religious services or practiced daily prayer or meditation in their youth reported greater life satisfaction and positivity in their 20s – and were less likely to subsequently have depressive symptoms, smoke, use illicit drugs, or have a sexually transmitted infection than people raised with less regular spiritual habits.”

The homepage of the First Presbyterian Union Church in Owego has two helpful, ecumenical resources that parents and grandparents can download for free or pick up in print form at the church office (111 Temple St.). 101 Ways to Live the Good News with Kids includes these and many other suggestions:1. Tell them that their feelings are okay. 2. Let them see you reading the Bible and devotional books. 3. Set boundaries that keep them safe. 4. Be honest. 5. Make a get well card together for a sick friend.”

Worship Readiness: Preparing Children for Congregational Worship includes dozens of creative ideas, ending with these: “Talk about What Happened after the Service: 1. Roast minister for lunch and barbecued baritone promote a critical attitude in children as well as adults. 2. Make honest, positive comments about what worship meant to you. Decide what changes should be made in your life as a result of the service. 3. Listen to your child’s comments about the service. What they verbalize they remember and come to understand.”

Owego Presbyterians recently donated two ecumenical Bibles to the Coburn Free Library for the public to enjoy: Growing in God’s Love: A Story Bible and CEB Women’s Bible. The story Bible includes 150 popular Bible stories that are organized by 13 themes, including Strong Women and Men; Listening for God; Parables; Healings and Miracles; and more. Each wonderfully illustrated story ends with three reflection questions – Hear, See, Act – to help children make the connections between faith and life (Amazon).

The CEB Women’s Bible is a readable Bible for individual reading or use in study groups that includes a wealth of side articles about biblical characters and women’s current experience. “It is ideal for women who value equality and discussions related to issues of gender and justice and how those ideas are lived out through their faith” (Amazon). 

The June 24 issue of the Owego Pennysaver has details about the Vacation Bible School that will be offered on Sunday through Tuesday, June 30-July 2, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Union Church; Vacation Bible School is a popular annual summer activity for children that is offered by many churches.   

Local pastors and lay readers will be happy to share their ideas with parents and grandparents for nurturing children in the faith. 

Bruce and Carolyn Gillette serve as a clergy couple at First Presbyterian Union Church in Owego and are the happy parents of three children and two wonderful grandchildren.

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