Our children learn from us whether we’re trying to teach them a lesson or not. They are shrewd observers and natural mimics. Sadly, it’s also true that sometimes when we do attempt to impress truth on their hearts, they simply don’t get it. Cheer up! We’re not left helpless and we need not be frustrated. Try these ideas.
Your goal is not only for your children to know the story of Jesus’ birth, the main characters and settings as revealed in Scripture, but to understand and apply the message from God contained in the story.
So first, take some time to understand your young Learners, how they choose to learn something. You then create opportunities that fit their unique preferences, and that are Experiential – that is active, not passive. You find ways to Apply your material and methods to the real stuff out of which your lives are made. Relational – You find ways your young learners can work with each other that is cooperative more than competitive. You seek a Narrow focus, one main point, or two at most, to any learning experience. (Based on KidZ at Heart’s L.E.A.R.N. principles)
Family living is well suited for this kind of learning because you really do have more control over how time is spent in your home, and you have more time to spend with your kids than the church or school. You’re in charge; you can model these things even as you require them of others.
So how does this apply to the story of Christmas – the amazing, true Christmas narrative of how God sent His only Son?
To start with, choose one activity, one tradition. L: Think of each child in your home and ask, How would she most enjoy presenting this part of the story? What talents and passions does he bring to it? E: Then, together, how can we enter into the story as observers and participants? A: How can we best come to clear conclusions about how the story should change our behavior? R: What activities lend themselves to pairs and trios working together to contribute to the whole family? N: What’s the best way to emphasize one main idea – the most important reason for telling the story?
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: Instead of one person reading something out loud, try this: Ahead of time, choose some part of the Christmas narrative and let each person in your family celebration take part in telling it.
How about Luke 2: 1-20? Assign verses 1-7 to someone to a pair. Verses 8-15 make up another scene and Verses 16-20, a third. Keep instructions simple: 1. For preparation, read the verses often enough to become thoroughly familiar with them. (Accurate coverage) 2. Choose the way you like best to bring the story to life. (Creative delivery) 3. Ask for participation from everyone. (Cooperative participation) If there’s time make props and costumes. You can do research to fill in background information. 4. Then, end with a simple statement of why you think God included this scene when He recorded the story. You might ask, “What one thing would God have us remember that would make a difference to the way we live?” Give time for discussion. (The narrow focus)
Granted, time is short, so you may have to do most of this yourself this year to demonstrate a great way your family can approach Bible study. Then try it later in the New Year on any narrative passage you want to learn from.
Sound risky? Perhaps a little crazy? That may be so, but so is exposing your children to Scripture narrative in the same way, over and over, until they become spiritually immune to God’s voice. Instead we want what Scripture calls the ‘obedience of faith’ (Romans 1:5) – growing sturdy ‘doers’ of God’s Word, not hearers only.
May Magi’s star and angel chorus surround our families this season with light, love and laughter. Embrace the wonder – Christ was born to be our Savior – and be glad!