Most of us are familiar with the ominous term “summer brain drain” and it is a real thing. Studies show that over the summer kids can lose up to two or three months of math and reading skills, and those losses are greater for low-income kids. In addition, a recent survey of teachers revealed they are spending 66 percent of their time at the beginning of each new school year teaching old concepts that students forgot while frolicking on the beach.
But is there such thing as summer faith drain? Do those family vacations, so fun-filled or remote there’s no time for mass, drain the faith out of our kids?
There are no succinct studies on this phenomenon, but it makes sense that when kids spend a good deal of time away from church, they begin to forget what they’ve learned.
Here are some ideas to help your kids keep the faith during those long, sun-drenched summer months.
- Talk to them about God. Summer is a time to chat. During that picnic in the park, or ice cream cone down by the pier, gab about your faith. This shouldn’t be a lecture, but an interesting discussion.
- See movies that spark discussion. Movies can be a great jumping off point for all kinds of conversations, even ones about faith. The ages of your kids will dictate what movies are appropriate. One good suggestion is “Soul Surfer,” an inspirational true story about surfer Bethany Hamilton who lost an arm during a shark attack. Religious themes are subtle but integral to the story.
- Visit religious monuments on vacation. Plan a trip for your family that includes a tour of a beautiful cathedral, or a visit a museum with religious paintings. It needn’t be the focus of the entire trip, but a nice detour back to what’s important in your life.
- Tour the missions. We live in California, so you may as well take advantage of our proximity to the state’s gorgeous Spanish missions. Mission San Juan Capistrano is right here in Orange County. It will be a history lesson and an exploration of faith all rolled into one.
- Read books about faith. Patty Broesamle, managaer of Paulist Press Book Center in Costa Mesa recommends these for a start:
- 110 Fun Facts About God’s Creation
- 115 Saintly Fun Facts
- 130 Fun Facts From God’s Wonder-Filled World
- 131 FUNdamental Facts for Catholic Kids
- 150 Fun Facts Found in the Bible
- 365 Fun Facts for Kids
All are by Bernadette Snyder and can be found at the store and online: paulistpressbookcenter.com
- Color and watch videos: Broesamle also recommends activity books and videos in the Brother Francis Series on Prayer, the Rosary, the Mass and the Sacraments. All of these also can be found at the store or online: paulistpressbookcenter.com. Search Brother Francis and see what pops up!
Of course, the other way to battle faith drain is to make time for mass during the summer when you are at home. But when you’re away, these options can make all the difference and may just deepen your family’s faith along the way.