5 Tips: Reading the Bible with Kids
Most fathers and mothers can relate; getting kids to do anything in a timely manner can be a huge struggle. They get distracted, they are slow to work, they can be disobedient. All of these things are problems when you want to get the family together for something important.
One time, I tried to gather my wife and kids for Family devotions. My wife and I sat on the couch, and I called to everyone that it was "Bible Time". The kids got excited and came running to the living room....But, my daughter ran right past the my outstretched arms into the kitchen to get a drink. As soon as she came to sit down, our oldest had to go to the bathroom. When he finished, one of the youngest needed a diaper change, and the other was screaming in need of a nap.
Though taking care of water, bathroom, diapers and naps are all important, and really don't use up that much time, it can take the steam right out of the plans for family devotions by letting frustration creep in. I learned a few things that day that taught me how to better lead my family to consistent time in God's word.
5 Tips: Reading the Bible with the Kids
1) Plan Ahead: Planning ahead is key to mitigating frustrations. Planning extra time gives your kids time for drinks, bathroom and diapers. Planning out the study before gathering together allows the leader to focus on other things to help smooth out the family time. Planning ahead also allow you to make time for fun things to be added such as singing, drama for games.-
2) Be Consistent: Choose a time that meets the needs of your family. If you are all morning people, read the bible in the morning. If your family is better in the evenings, maybe that is a better time. The important thing is to be consistent. If "Bible time" becomes a normal part of your children's day, after a while, they are much more likely to enjoy it.
3) Read Appropriate size Passages: We all know that all children have different attention spans (which tend to be small). We as leaders of our home need to assess the size of the passage that our children can listen to without losing their attention. Sometimes it may mean that your are reading just a few well chosen verses, or it could mean that you are reading entire books of the Bible together. Each family is different, and each child is different.
PS. Don't assume that your child cannot sit and listen to the "adult bible." If you work with them, they will be able to not only sit and listen, but also understand. Do not underestimate your children when it come to comprehending the word's of God.
4) Ask Questions: After reading the passage, ask age appropriate questions. We ask each child a question that ranges from simple (Who made the world?) to complex (Can you think of another bible story that relates to this one?). These questions engage their minds around the reading and help them to remember the passage better. We also allow time for them to ask questions if they don't understand. Our children need to know that we want them to engage with the scriptures.
5) Display Your Joy: Reading the Bible together bring a lot of joy. Let your children see your joy. Help them know how precious God's word is to you and how important it is for you to share it with them. Let them see that your faith is real and that you have a real affection for God. If they see your joy, they will want to be happy too.
Bonus Tip) Read other Books Aloud to Your Kids: One underrated way to get better at reading the Bible to your kids and to help your kids sit quietly while you read the bible is to read other books aloud to them. The Bible isn't always easy to read aloud, practicing with other books can make it easier when you read to them from the scriptures. Also, children love stories and they will love to have you take the time to read to them. The bonus is that listening to you read those stories will help them learn how to listen when you read to them from the greatest story of all!