It's officially here. The new school year. Whether your kids have been back in school for over 3 weeks now, like ours, or you're just getting started, the beginning of a new school year (much like the beginning of a new calendar year) is always a great time to think and pray through goals, plans, and objectives for your family's life for the next 9 months.
One area that my husband and I have been considering, really since the beginning of the calendar year, is how to make the most of our family meals. We have made it a priority in our home to eat dinner around the table together as often as possible. For us, this is typically 4-5 nights a week (one night is reserved for our small group night which is a bit more hurried than usual and we reserve the other night for eating out with friends or going on a date night). We believe this time around the table at the end of a busy day is important for discipling our kids, for developing deep and strong bonds as a family, and for staying updated on what is going on in each other's worlds.
But with our family of 5 (soon to be 6) and the exhaustion that comes at end of the day, it can sometimes be difficult to figure out where to begin when someone turns to another at the table with the terribly open-ended question of, "So, how was your day?" It's easy to give a one-word response: "good" or it can also be easy to dominate the entire dinner time conversation with all the details of one individual's day while never getting around to the rest of the family. We also want to be able to discuss spiritual things with our kids and not just give the bullet points of everyone's day.
Over the summer we discovered an awesome way to hit everything we wanted to be able to discuss at the table with each member of the family. We call it "The 4 P's."
"The 4 P's" are pit, peak, proverb, and prayer request. Each family member gets a turn to share each of their 4 P's. Here's what each category means:
PIT - this is the worst part of your day. Something that didn't go right, or was frustrating, or was hurtful, or any other thing that happened that was a "pit." Sometimes, a family member doesn't have a pit to share...which in our household elicits cheers and congratulations of, "Yay! You're pit-less!"
PEAK - this is the best part of your day. Something exciting, or cool, or encouraging, or anything else that was a "peak" moment in your day.
PROVERB - your "proverb" can be one of two things. It can either be something that you learned from your Bible reading that day or, it can be something God taught you that day. This has been one of the coolest things for us as parents to be able to share with our kids and in turn, it's been equally exciting to hear their "proverbs" of things they are learning about God, the way that they are seeing him working in their lives or the lives of those around them, and even hearing what they remembered and held on to from our morning Bible reading.
PRAYER REQUEST - this is obvious but it's something you want prayer for. Once everyone is done sharing, we ask everyone to pick another person at the table and pray for their prayer request.
This is a system that works for our family. Every family is different and this system may not work for yours, but I hope that it may encourage you to either try implementing "The 4 P's" during your family meals or, come up with your own version of how to accomplish intentional sharing, conversation, and discipleship around the dinner table.
The beginning of a new school year is the perfect time to stop, consider, and pray how you can maximize every moment for the glory of God and the good of others. I encourage you to start that assessment with your time spent around the table.