The value of doing devotions with young kids (and some tips too) – A Guest Post by Author Karen Whiting
This week we are pleased to present to you Tyndale Kids Author Karen Whiting (My Princess Devotions). Karen is a great writer with outstanding and creative ideas to get your little ones moving while they learn about God. Check out what she has to say about doing devotions with your children (boys and girls) and learn more about Karen’s book. It’s a good one to share with your little princess or to give as a gift. – Katara Patton, Acquisitions Director
Devotions with little ones formed the framework of my mothering years. I am still seeing the benefits of taking time in God’s word with my five little ones who are now grown. For that reason I am passionate about devotions for children, especially preschoolers.
The devotions gave us a sense of purpose and I made sure days revolved around what we read and also made sure we’d do one each day. If we didn’t get a devotion done before bed then we skipped dessert as I’d say, “If we don’t have time for the sweet word of God, we don’t have time for other sweets.” That really helped my children remind me to have some of God’s sweet words!
Let’s mention some benefits. It’s easy to realize it helps children get into a habit of reading the Bible and communicating with God to nurture their spirit. However it surprised my husband and I to realize how it also gave them a jumpstart on learning. Listening and talking about a scripture increases a child’s listening comprehension and that promotes great reading comprehension. We also noticed they could talk with us about any topic through the years because the devotions touched on all aspects of life. They more easily conversed with adults. The scriptures also increased their vocabulary. Thus, devotions promote cognitive skills.
In activity-oriented devotions like My Princess Devotions, the themes cultivate character development and promote motor development. I placed hospitality in May as part of a theme of tea parties. Planning and hosting teas help little girls learn to greet people, be gracious hosts, and serve others and also helps foster good manners. Other months include generosity, compassion, trust, honesty, and cheerfulness.
The gross motor development comes with activities such as praise walks, dancing, and exercises that are part of various daily devotions. I planned to emphasize using a different body part each month (i.e. feet in October, hands in February). Small motor development is promoted with craft and cooking activities in other devotions. A variety of activities help children realize God cares about all aspects of their lives and helps develop various learning styles.
Tips on doing devotions
- Be open-minded. Open hearts to God’s guidance and children’s thoughts. If children stray from the meaning, reread God’s word or look at another passage on the same topic to enlighten them!
1. Be consistent by setting up a routine and time for devotions. Choose the best time: early in the morning, afterschool, or in the evening.
2. Be enthusiastic. It’s catchy! Praise your child for participating.
3. Avoid distractions. No eating, no phone calls or TV during devotions.
4. Plan a reasonable time limit. Ten minutes is good for growing children. When the time is too short to cover the lesson, carry it over to next time!
5. Don’t be afraid of silence as you wait for your child to respond to a question you ask.
6. Make Dad a part of the devotions. Choose a time Dad can participate in person or by phone/internet call.
7. If Dad travels often or is deployed in the military consider buying a digital copy for him to read along.
Devotions and Your Child’s Personality
Children are different and respond according to their temperaments. An outgoing child likes to act out Bible scenes and share what they learn. A shy child may prefer to do devotions in an intimate setting and will like to journal or draw but may not want to share verbally as much.
Set the stage for success by responding to your child’s personality. For the outgoing child, make it a fun time that can include visiting friends. For a child who is a natural born leader and likes to take charge, let your little one help choose the place and time to do them and also let your child have extra time to discuss the topic. For a little one who is more relaxed and would rather sit and not do things use some encouragement and follow devotions with a snack or reading another book. For the shy child, make it a special parent-child time alone and be patient to wait for the child to think and answer questions.
If you want to do devotions as a family, make sure to include everyone in discussions. Consider using a talking stick, where you pass the stick around for each person to have a time to talk.
I believe that making God part of daily life fosters a sense of purpose and helps children mature. It may not change their IQ, but I thank the Lord that my children are kind, considerate, and serve others. They have remained close to one another and to the Lord. That’s what we want the most as parents.
We can still talk about anything. I am also thankful that one son who experienced twelve years of a 24/7 migraine was able to cling to scriptures with hope. The Lord healed him last November so we are also thankful for that.