Why do I talk so much about prayer on a homeschool blog? First, because prayer is the way we communicate with God on earth. Although it is not the only aspect of the spiritual life, it is the “one thing necessary” for life with God. (See Luke 10:42.) Second–and this follows naturally from the first–because if our primary goal in parenting is to direct our kids towards Heaven, we must teach them how to pray.
Remember the adage, “Do what I say, not what I do?” We all know that doesn’t work. Kids follow their parents’ behavior patterns. If Mom is stressed, the kids act out. If she is teaching the older kids, the little ones want to learn too. Little boys especially want to be like their dad. We parents try to model the behavior we want our children to have.
Let your kids see your dedication to prayer
A contemplative home, whether or not it includes a homeschool, begins with the prayer life of the parents. If your kids know you practice mental prayer every day, they will think it’s a normal part of being an adult. They need to see you make sacrifices to be faithful to prayer. They need to know it is your top priority in life.
Beyond that, we must specifically teach kids how to pray. In Catholic school I learned to say the Rosary, the Guardian Angel Prayer, etc., but no one taught me how to practice mental prayer. Your kids shouldn’t have to discover this on their own.
Help your children be open to God
The Contemplative Homeschool both teaches children how to pray and facilitates that prayer through teaching behaviors that will help children be open to God. These include: strong observation skills, especially listening skills; being comfortable with silence; moderation in use of electronic media; a willingness to learn and to be changed; practicing leisure, rather than just work and entertainment; relating Scripture to everyday life; seeing everything through the eyes of faith; and cultivating a Christian imagination.
God willing, I will write about each of these in further detail later. For now, what are you waiting for? Start working on your own prayer life!