Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Deuteronomy 6

I was once told by a woman involved in her church's leadership, "Three year olds can't learn."

It sounds like a comment that could have been made twenty or more years ago, before the influx of knowledge on child development and before the publishing companies were falling over each other to publish the newest and best preschool Sunday school curriculum. Sadly, it was just a few years ago and it came during a discussion about preschool programs in churches. Her belief, clearly summed up in this sentence, was that it was useless to provide professional resources to the teaching of young children because they are too young to be taught.

Wow! Up until that point I didn't realize that my young children, who had been learning since birth, were so precocious. Her church clearly wasn't the one for me and my children.

But sadder still is the fact that many families are operating this way when it comes to the spiritual training of their children. The church is not supposed to be the primary source in this area; it can't be. My children spend one morning a week at church, maybe two and that's definitely not enough time for the church to impart spiritual truths. And they aren't supposed to be the primary source for my child's spiritual training. Deuteronomy 6: 6 - 8 is written to me, not to my pastor or church's youth leaders: These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.

I think Satan has done an excellent job of supplying parents with plenty of excuses for not teaching our children spiritual truths in the home. "I don't know enough about the Bible and I wouldn't want to teach my children the wrong things." "We had family devotions when I was growing up and it was SO boring." "We're so busy. When would we have time to do that?" "The ages of my children are so varied, how can I reach all of them?" "I'm so overwhelmed and don't know where to begin." And don't think pastor's families are exempt. Just ask the Good Doctor.

I've often wondered how churches can help parents regain their role in the home. Maybe educating and empowering parents is just as (or more) important as finding the right curriculum for the children. A few hours each week is not enough, especially when I hear church leaders like the woman who insisted that three year olds can't learn. I think of how many years she had already missed with her own children, and the children of her congregation, and I cringe.

But I also don't want to come across as one who has it all together. I have certainly had many missed opportunities and I always wish I had done so much more. But through the years I have employed a variety of methods for "impressing them on my children." When the children were younger, we did a lot with manipulatives, hands-on materials, and play-acting. Now with the teens we can read together, books like Do Hard Things and Crazy Love.

A particular passion of mine is for my children to know the story of the Bible. Too often, especially in church, we teach the Bible in a hodge-podge of stories. One week they are learning about Jonah and the next week it's Peter. If it happens to be December, the Nativity is thrown in there and then it might be back to Adam and Eve followed by Paul. By Easter we go back to the crucifixion and resurrection and then maybe to Abraham. Again, I've tried various methods to relay this information; some of it worked and some of it didn't.

This summer I came across a curriculum called Grapevine Studies. I usually don't buy Bible curriculum because I feel like I can brainstorm and come up with ideas on my own. However, I was really intrigued with this series. The description from their website, (Click here for website), states: "Grapevine Studies provides effective, easy-to-teach Bible curriculum to disciple students ages five to adult. Through the use of Bible timelines and easy-to-follow lessons, Grapevine Studies will give your students a panoramic view of the Bible." I decided to try it, starting with my 5 - 10 year olds.

I'm hooked. The children ask for it first thing every morning. When we miss a day, they are upset. They love the timeline drawings and symbols and they are remembering what they are learning. So, for anyone looking for a place to begin, this just might be the jumpstart that you need. The even better news for you is that if you use the coupon code TAF at checkout, you receive 20% off your first order.

And let me know if you try it; I'd love to hear your thoughts. Even more so, I'd love to know that you're starting to talk about these things when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up, that you are tying them as symbols on your hands and binding them on your foreheads.

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