Whether you homeschool, traditional school, roadschool or something else entirely, it is common for the summer months to take on a very different look for your family life. Schedules relax, sunscreen is applied, and memories are made.

Maybe you usually just slide into summer and let fun take the wheel: “Let’s make memories!” you say. Summer to you is all about building family memories. And building family memories together is an amazing thing, a great goal to have. But as you reflect on past summers, what actually built family connection and relationship?

Family on a hike

Or maybe you get out the white board and plan all the things: “Little Johnny, you are taking a soccer camp during week one, a church camp during week two, and an engineering camp week three!” you say. Summer is about staying busy, and making sure the kids don’t kill each other or you. But as you reflect on past summers, did they really learn something of true, life-long or eternal value or were you really just keeping them out of your hair?

More than likely, you are a little bit of both or you even swing from the first paradigm to the second as the summer months march on. But what if we headed into summer with a little more intentionality toward eternal and life-long things?

Whenever rhythms and routines change, it is a great opportunity to take a look at what we’ve been doing and make some adjustments, to tweak a few things to get back on course as a family. Now’s the time to ask yourself some questions and take a step back and look at where your kids are spiritually, developmentally, and relationally to see if there are some areas that need a little focus. Now is the time to stop, pray, and listen to what God might want your family to focus on this summer.

Maybe you’ve never really taken an intentional look at where you are going. And to take meaningful steps to get there, you might need to stop and consider where “there” is. Ask yourself what values, what skills, and what knowledge you want your child to take with them when they leave your home. Take the time to write those things down. Do you know how to pass on those values? Do you know how to teach those skills? Do you know how to build that knowledge? And remember, the goal isn’t just to raise kids who behave and make you look good. Really, the goal is to raise God-fearing, responsible adults who know who they are and whose they are. The summertime is a great time to take a look at where they are and press into the gaps God reveals.

Each summer, I ask my kids a few pointed questions. I’ve attached the pdf I use here for you. Feel free to use this or tweak it based on your kids’ ages and what is important to your family. The point of these questions is to teach them to self-evaluate and to communicate their own goals and desires  –  you never know what you may learn about Little Johnny or Susie unless you ask them and give them freedom to answer. Have them write it down. And then have a conversation around it. Pray about it together. This will especially help older kids have buy-in with where you are going and feel like they have a voice in the process.

Once you’ve had this conversation with you kids, ask yourself what you learned from Little Johnny’s or Susie’s answers? What direction did you receive in your prayer time? As you consider those things within the context of the long-term goal of raising God-fearing, responsible adults, what couple of things is your family going to intentionally work on this summer? Here are a couple of ideas in a few common areas that you might pick-up as you consider how to intentionally the summer months:


Summer is a great time to try something new in the way of discipling your children in the Lord. Change-up the time you do family devotions each day, especially if bedtime is later, perhaps after lunch is a better time during the summer. Grab a read-aloud book about a missionary and read together in the slower afternoons. Do a family Bible study after breakfast. Incorporate some different activities like crafts, games, or video lessons based on the ages and interests of your kids. I’ve listed some of my favorites in my resources section. For us, the summertime favorite is going through Bible Study Guide’s family bible study worksheets (see my Instagram this week for a full video review). We’ll do that after breakfast or lunch (they take less than 30min/day!) and then the kids will share about what they learned with Dad during family devotions after dinner each night. When the boys were younger, we did a Focus on the Family’s 60-day summer devotional which incorporates fun games, crafts, and activities for the younger kids.

Father & son reading apologetic textbook

If you have a large age range of kids, maybe the summer is the time to take them one-on-one and invest in them spiritually where they are at. Maybe one is really interested in creation theory or apologetics. Can you read a book together on a specific topic and discuss together? Maybe one is growing in his or her comfort with praying and talking to God. Have a child about to step into a new stage of life, like leaving the nest at the end of the summer, hitting puberty, or going off to school for the first time? Consider specific ways that you can encourage and challenge their spiritual growth to get ready for those new endeavors.


What basic life skills could your kids use a little instruction and guidance in? Summer is a great time to teach them. Remember, when you are teaching them a new thing it works best to: first show them, then do it with them, then release them to do it themselves, and occasionally check-in and give further instructions as needed. For us, summertime is when we shift household chores around so that each child is learning some new skills. Perhaps you want to help that teenager learn how to cook a few meals or learn to budget his or her money. Perhaps it’s time that toddler learns how to make his or her bed. Laundry? Vacuuming? Mowing? What practical life skills can your child learn this summer that will serve them into adulthood?

We parents know when a child is struggling or excelling in a particular subject in school. Likely they don’t need a focused tutor (although that can definitely help!), but just need some extra practice time with the subject over the summer. If your child is in a traditional school environment, before school gets out, ask his or her teacher for advice in how to help your kiddo grow in challenge areas and how you can encourage them more in advanced areas. As an example, having mom or dad spend a few extra minutes each day reading out loud with a child can really improve that child’s ability and confidence in reading, a skill they will need during the next school year and beyond!

Does your child have a hobby or sport that they really want to get better at? Ask them! Often as parents, we push our kids into whatever activity we enjoyed without really considering their own aptitudes or interests (guilty here!!). Giving them space to truly voice whether or not they care about that activity can be really freeing for parents and kids alike. Let them know it’s okay to enjoy an activity and not care to be the very best at it! Less that 1% of our kids will go on to be a professional athlete or renowned artist so don’t push them to excel but rather allow any activities they enjoy to be vehicles for other life-long skills such as teamwork, perseverance, or trying new things. Let your kids set the goals and help them learn how to take steps to achieve them.


Whether it is learning how to make friends or practicing conflict resolution with siblings or building connection with each other inside your family, the summertime is usually full of opportunities to work on our relationship skills. I like to find out if there are any special new friends that our kids want to hang out with more and get to know better over the summer months. In today’s culture of playdates and mom’s planning get-togethers, it can be easy to continue to see the same, comfortable people all summer long. Show your child that you too can get outside your comfort zone and get to know new families that move into your neighborhood or a new friend they met at church or school. And use those opportunities to teach your kids how to be a friend and make new friends (remember to talk about the steps in this process)! This is a skill that is rarely talked about or taught but is absolutely crucial to a happy life.

With siblings on top of each other all summer, working on sibling relationships might be high on your priority list too. It can be frustrating to deal with this struggle but coaching your children through their conflicts will help build relational skills that they will use for decades to come! They can learn healthy or unhealthy conflict resolution skills from their squabbles with their siblings so don’t ignore investing in these relationship skills. Consider grabbing a book at the library to freshen up your skills if you need some help in this area (e-mail me and I’ll give you a few of my favorites). But remember the goal is not to have perfectly behaved children but to create resilient and respectful, godly adults. Your children will have conflict as adults and it is in their early sibling relationships that children first learn how to resolve differences they might have with others.

Consider the world your children are growing up in and will be living in as adults. What can you teach them now about how to interact with people who are different from them, in race or religion, or that may even disagree with them in major ways? By helping our children become comfortable with people from different cultures, races, and worldviews, we can set them up to love all of God’s creation. It is easy for both parents and children to just hang out with people who are like us: we feel understood and accepted, there is less conflict and risk of misunderstanding, and it’s more comfortable. But we need to prepare our children to grow up in a culturally diverse world where they will interact with many different kinds of people while standing firmly in a biblical worldview. How will they know how to love their neighbor or be kind to the downtrodden if they have never seen how to do it? From simply attending one of the various cultural festivals cities host in the summer months to serving together at a food bank or homeless ministry, putting your children into situations that expand their own view of the world and then discussing it afterwards will help your children be more prepared for the world God has called them to love and serve in the future.

The great thing about all these ideas is that you’ll be building up the next generation and building family memories at the same time! A child knows they are loved when you spend time with them and slow down enough to invest in them. And an older kid or teenager feels seen and heard when you let out a bit of that proverbial “rope” and give them some new responsibilities and skills to prepare them for the adult world. Even with these goals and plans, you’ll still have plenty of time to grab the towels and sunscreen and head to the pool! You’ll just be on the lookout for those teachable moments more often if you know what spiritual, developmental, or relational skills you are looking to teach them this summer.

Summer can be fun. And it can be structured. But it is a great time to be intentional with their growth. What area(s) do you want to encourage your children to grow this summer? Where could you use some extra encouragement or support as a parent in these areas?