Christian media for kids, among other things. But I think few will disagree with me when I say reading the Bible with my children is a top priority.
The only trouble with Bible reading and devotion time with young children is...it can be very, very difficult to get them to listen. Many mothers complain to me that their little ones wiggle too much, or argue during Bible reading, or kick each other, or touch each other, and so on, making Bible reading impossible. If you have this trouble with your children, read on. Here's what works for us:
* Choose your time wisely. You and your children are probably at your freshest in the morning. Evening devotions are okay, too, but I find I'm more likely to be impatient when it's nearly bedtime - and my children are less likely to remember what we read.
* Make sure your children's needs are met. If they are hungry or thirsty or need to use the restroom, it will be impossible for them to pay attention to the Bible. So get those basic needs out of the way before you begin.
* Try singing first. Stand up and let your kids sing a hymn or a Bible verse (for example, something from Hide 'Em in Your Heart). Encourage them to stand up, make hand motions, and even dance. This gets the wiggles out.
* Try mealtime. Typically, I serve my children breakfast, and while they eat, I read the Bible to them. I find they listen very well while they are eating a meal (not just a snack), and that breakfast becomes a mostly laid back time, where we can easily discuss what we're reading in the Bible.
* Try quiet activities. If for some reason I can't read the Bible while my children eat breakfast, I usually sit on the couch in the morning and have the children gather around while I read. But they don't just sit; they have quiet activities to do. Usually this is coloring or drawing, but anything works as long as it leaves them free to listen and isn't noisy. Truly, most children seem to listen better if their hands are busy.
* Pick the right Bible. There is nothing wrong with reading a regular, adult Bible to your children. (Although you'll probably want to skip certain more mature sections.) However, I believe it's invaluable to have Bibles around that your children can more readily understand. Not only should each child should have her own Bible that's geared for her level of maturity, you should also have a children's Bible storybook that appeals to all your children - except perhaps the babies and toddlers. In addition, I like to have several children's Bible storybooks around, so we can finish one and - instead of repeating everything we just read - we can pick up another. Invariably, the stories are a bit different and the author's approach lends a freshness to the stories. Click here for my Bible recommendations.
What tips do you have for making devotions and Bible reading with kids more successful?