Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Teaching Children About God

Just a few weekends ago, I was talking with some mothers, and somehow, we got around to talking about school since exam week just passed by.  We were initially discussing about how our kids found Filipino as a tough subject, and then one mom pointed out that Christian Living was also a struggle for her son; dumbfounded as she was when her son asked her "Who is God?"

That night, I couldn't help but ask myself if I had taken every opportunity to teach my own kids about God.  I mean, sure, we go to church on Sundays, we say our night-time prayers daily; but does my kids know the Lord in a personal way?

It's just perfect timing that I stumbled upon this blog post today where it gives 10 tips for teaching children about God.  I am re-posting it in full right here:

10 Tips For Teaching Children About God:
by Stephanie Carmichael
Teach all the time: Young children live in the moment. Help them to learn in the moment by making the most of opportunities as they arise. Talk about God in the day-to-day things you are doing.

Teach at a special time: Try to set aside a special time to read about God. Prepare for this time. If you are going to read the Bible, think about what you will read and how to simplify and explain it.

Questions and answers: Listen to your children's questions, and give quality time to answering them. But also ask them questions about what you've been trying to teach to check they have understood.

Teach through your life: You are a living example (or visual aid) of someone who loves God. Set a faithful example of dependence on God and let them see you reading the Bible for yourself.

Be prayerful: Like adults, children need God's help to grow in Christ and they can learn to pray. So pray for them and pray simple prayers with them (e.g. "sorry God that we...", "thank you God for...", "God, please help...").

Be simple: Young children are not abstract thinkers so be literal and concrete. Use real examples where possible (eg. God made this flower). Use simple vocabulary that they can understand. Avoid jargon.

Be specific: Move from the specific (God loves Ben) to the general (God loves everyone). Use lots of familiar examples so that they can understand.

Repeat and repeat again: You might get tired of saying it, but remember young children thrive on repetition.

Be thankful: Approach God with thankfulness. Model to your children how we can thank God in various situations and what we can thank God for.

Be visual: Young children learn through their eyes as well as their ears. Use pictures, visual aids, picture books etc.

The author of the tips , Stephanie Carmichael, is also a published author.  Her books offer many examples of these tips in action...
Some days everything seems to go wrong and everyone feels grumpy. And sometimes, not even a hug from Mum can fix things up. This beautiful story contains a wonderfully clear message about the disappointments of life and the goodness of God.  You can enjoy the FREE e-book right here.
It's Ben's birthday, but when he falls out of his new wagon and hurts himself, Emily has to think of a way to make the day special again. This lovely story is about families and looking after one another, and about the God who loves us all.  You can enjoy the FREE e-book right here.

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RONE said...

This is a big deal for me. I am not the mass going type and I do not agree with many of the church rules. The God I believe in is more powerful, more rebellious and more graceful that the God rigid Catholics believe in. This is what I want to pass on to my kids. I also want them to be aware of other religions, ours isn't the only one and ours isn't necessarily the best. But I have to learn how to do it in small, simple dozes.

The Phenomenal Woman said...

I agree with you in that what is really important is a personal relationship with God, more than belonging to a religious organization.

jen laceda said...

Giada just learned to recite "The Lord is My Shepherd." I'm actually embarrassed that I didn't know this until SHE TAUGHT ME.

Martine said...

Wonderful article, Tina.
I grew up in the church, so you could say I've been jaded by a lot of wrong notions about God. I grew up believing that I wasn't good enough to be a Christian, that no matter how hard I tried, I would never be worthy of God's blessing. I had a twisted sense of God, but it was mostly because of wrong leadership and abuses in the church I was a part of.
Thankfully, I got liberated from that despair. Now, God has been made real to me in other ways. I am still a Christian, but I'm leaning towards the emergent church's beliefs that Christianity is for ALL, not just a handful of saved. I'm grateful for the witness of real people who love God--the BIG God that He really is--not the boxed up, strict, and unrelenting God that my former spiritual elders painted Him to be.
Now, I can be confident that I can give my own child a clear, unbiased glimpse of God.

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