We are entering unchartered territory. Schools and nurseries are closed for most children for the foreseeable future across the UK and Ireland, in fact, around the world.
Parents are wondering how they’ll cope with the extra time they will have their kids at home, the worry of trying to do their schooling, and some will still be trying to work themselves.
We’ve put together some thoughts for different age groups of how we can survive, and hopefully thrive, these times, and use the extra time at home to focus on discipling our children and teaching them more about Jesus.
Under 5’s by Felicity Carswell
If we’re followers of Jesus, we will be wanting to show Christ to our children, eager to teach them the gospel and help them to know God for themselves. But how do we break into the chaos, and help our children hunger for the word alongside everything else that is shouting for their attention?
I don’t have a silver bullet, definitely no failsafe formula, but we try and get our boys looking to Jesus in various ways whenever we can. It changes according to the season sometimes, or what kids’ bible has caught our attention or just as to whether I’ve had time to plan ahead a little. And often it falls by the wayside for a day or two. Along the way, I’ve noticed that if opening up the Bible together is part of your routine from an early age, the children don’t question it – in fact they’re likely to remember and demand it, even when I’m already thinking about what needs to be done before we leave the house.
For my pre–school boys, we’ve really enjoyed The Beginners Gospel Story Bible together. And I’ve just finished reading The Jesus Storybook Bible with my four year old during my youngest’s nap time. I think we’ve both enjoyed time together, and he’s been captivated by the stories – always eager for another. We have numerous bible story picture books, which are muddled into our growing book collection and so they sometimes get grabbed for story–reading, although I wonder whether I should nudge them into choosing them more often.
Praying before each meal, and helping the children pray more than just a simple ‘thanks for my food’. It’s been in these moments of praying that we’ve caught wonderful glimpses of hearts beginning to grasp who God is. Praying for people – family, friends and missionaries all over the world. We have a couple of pots of prayers sticks – a lollipop stick with a name and a photo – to help us pray. Every morning (when we remember), a person or family get prayed for and the stick gets put in the other pot.
For the last few weeks, we’ve had psalm 23 on the side of the fridge and we’ve been trying to read it together frequently. It’s got silly pictures (unintentionally silly through my lack of artistic skill!) on it which helps our non–readers to remember. This year, we’ve also been trying to memorise a verse together every other week or so. It’s amazing how well the boys have remembered them, and wherever possible, I try and bring that verse into our everyday conversations so that they understand something of what they’re remembering.
10ofthose are planning to have a series of bedtime stories read by our Children’s Authors in the coming weeks. Check out our Facebook or YouTube each weeknight at 6pm.
Check out the book packs we’ve put together for this age group.
Primary Age by Bethan Lycett
Most primary children will have been given a small amount of work to try each day. The last thing I’ll be wanting to do with my kids is add more and more structured learning into the day, especially as we have 3 children ranging from 3 up to 10, and one has special needs, and me and my husband will both be trying to work from home (trying being the operative word!).
Here are things I will be trying to do:
Do a short devotion in the morning over breakfast. This hasn’t suited our routine before, but during these unusual times there is no reason we can’t do this.
Devotional dippers are great for this because they are short, kids love picking their own dipper out, and you can go into as much depth as you choose. There are lots of other devotional ideas around which you might like to use too.
When I’ll need to do some work I’ll be using some activity books, colouring books or online content to do some babysitting. There are 6 seasons of Veggietales on Netflix and DVD’s from What’s in the Bible, or Friends and Heroes always go down well too! Quiet reading for the eldest will also be an option, and I’m ordering the remaining Patricia St John books we don’t yet have.
Where possible I’ll be trying to do small projects with them in the afternoon which are of interest to them, these may not be Bible based every day, but some will be.
For the eldest who enjoys technology it might be encouraging him to create a video or Minecraft story about a topic. That’s ICT! For the middle one a craft project (Art!), and for the smallest recreating a story with duplo or playmobile.
Everyone a Child Should Know is a great starting point to introducing a whole host of projects or research about various countries and times. That’s geography and history covered! Indescribable is a great book to bring in some science. We will definitely do some baking (Bake through the bible] too.
For background music that is biblically sound and glorifying to God, you won’t go wrong with Awesome Cutlery, DumbRocks or Seeds Family Worship. They can all be viewed on YouTube and I can promise I love to listen to these myself, even when the kids aren’t around!
All in all, during these uncertain times we need to show love to our children, and I’ll be praying with them each day that we would all show kindness to each other, that we would have patience with each other, and that we can show Jesus’ love to those around us.
10ofthose will be adding a new activity sheet every weekday, for as long as possible, for you to download and print at home for your children.
Check out the book packs we’ve put together for this age group.
Secondary Age by Hannah and Andy Peace
Here are some ideas we had to encourage families with teenagers to grow closer to each other and closer to the Lord during the period of ‘isolation’.
* Routine is important. Encourage the household to still wake together and gather for breakfast and family devotions. Perhaps this precious time has slipped over recent months but with no school bus or early morning school run we can allow a little more time to start the day well with good habits.
* Read a chapter of proverbs together each day – you’ll read it in a month and will learn many pearls of wisdom. Discuss any that are pertinent to your family or situation.
* Look at a website like Open Doors or Release International, they will have ideas and resources to help you pray for and support the suffering church. Encourage your teens to do further research on selected countries or people groups. Pray together as a family and write a letter to a prisoner or missionary friend.
* Take a walk, enjoy time to talk to each other and look at nature. As you do, audibly revel in God’s creative beauty. Don’t allow phones (other than for the odd picture). You will find you have time to talk in ways you don’t normally.
* If doing some additional jobs (sorting the garage, painting a room, etc) involve your teen – teach them new skills. They might realise God has given them gifts they didn’t realise they had.
* Don’t allow time to pass without having some old fashioned family time – playing a board game together or having a silly game of charades. Make memories. Playing a game teaches you a lot about your child and give you opportunities to teach them – their competitiveness, they attitude to truth and being fair, being gracious in victory or defeat etc.
* As individuals, a pair or as a family write out prayers for family members and close friends. Put them into a jar and draw one out each mealtime to read and pray together.
* If your teen is musical, why not write a song together or set a Psalm to music.
* On Netflix and other streaming services, look at the Christian movie genre and watch a wholesome movie that will lead to discussion. An example might be A Case For Christ or God’s Not Dead. Check out Disciplines of a Godly Family for more family friendly film recommendations.
* Use the additional time to do some Bible memorisation – challenge each other, have a forfeit for those who get a word wrong or make a mistake. To stretch yourselves, rather than learning just a single verse, memorise the Armour of God from Ephesians 6 or Paul’s charge to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4.
* For a couple of months, have a 66 day Bible overview challenge, learn the order of the books and each day look at a key verse or passage from each book (What the Bible is all about would be a good resource).
* Read a chapter from ‘Everyone a Child Should Know‘ at one of your mealtimes. Even better would be to ask your teen to lead this and learn several facts about each character doing additional research themselves.
* You probably read with your teen when they were a toddler – why did you stop? Now’s a great time to start again, they’ll love you reading with them.
* Read the Bible with them and share the bits that make you go wow.
* Read a book together out loud, read a couple of paragraphs at a time and discuss at the end of each chapter. Warren Wiersbe’s books are ideal.
* Encourage your teen to use social media as a gospel tool to witness to their friends or encourage Christian friends. Sharing Bible verses, praying for people and telling them you are.
10ofThose are sharing a bible verse every morning, maybe they could look to memorise some of these?
Check out the book pack we’ve put together for this age group.
Felicity Carswell, along with her husband Jonathan and two young sons, 4 and 2, is currently living in Illinois, USA. They moved to America in August last year in order to help 10ofThoseUSA get more books and resources out to the people of the USA.
Bethan Lycett has 3 children, 10, 7 and 3, and lives with her husband James near Wigan. When she’s not doing Marketing for 10ofThose she can be found writing rhyming kids books.
Hannah and Andy Peace have 3 older children, aged 12,13 and 15, and run Yorkshire Camps, a Christian residential camp centre near Skipton.