In Teaching Kids to Look Beyond the Obvious, I shared some of the reasons why it is a critical Christian life skill to teach your kids to look beyond what they see with their eyes. Being able to do that well can make their lives fuller and richer and protect them from all sorts of Satan’s traps.
So besides having regular discussions about the concept, what are some things you can do to help them practice the skill? Can you teach them how to look below the surface with discernment and humility rather than with judgment and pride? Here are some ideas to try. Different personalities will respond differently to these activities, so don’t be afraid to experiment and use the ones that work the best with your kids.
- Advertising is a fun way to teach kids to look beyond the surface. One might assume for example Earnest Hemingway had some connection to this restaurant. Although he did visit this city, there is no real connection between Hemingway and this restaurant. Have your kids look at ads and then the real products. Are the pictures like the reality? Food ads are really good for this as are some toy ads. Food stylists do all sorts of things to food for ads no one would do in real life, so the food we cook from mixes rarely looks as good as the ad. Also have your older kids look for the “hidden” promises in ads. Lots of friends, pretty girlfriends, etc. are not mentioned but the photos often imply buying the product will give you those other things too.
- Detective and mystery books for kids are also a great way to think about looking below the surface. The detectives are often successful only because they find clues the others have missed. Talk to your kids that they need to always think of themselves as detectives in life. Are there clues that things aren’t what they appear? What is hidden below the surface? Will it help them get closer to God or begin pulling them away from Him?
- Help them study people in the Bible like Samson. Samson just adored Delilah because she was beautiful. What he didn’t see is that she was out to destroy him. What if he had looked beyond her outer beauty and learned what was below the surface? Could he have avoided becoming a prisoner and having his eyes gouged out by her people? What other people in the Bible got into trouble because they couldn’t or wouldn’t look beyond appearances? Talk not only about the stories but also what clues they could have seen that something was wrong if they had been more careful.
- Take them somewhere in nature that looks bland and boring. A large field or grassy area will often work well. Ask them what they see. Then have them get on the ground and look more carefully. Do they suddenly see little weeds, flowers, bugs or other “treasures” not easily seen at a quick glance? Help them understand that often life can be that way. A quick glance may tell us one thing, but if we dig carefully beyond the surface there may be many other things not easily seen.
- Take them to an archaeological dig. Many areas have digs you can find by searching on the web. Some will even allow volunteers to help. Or take them to a gem mine. Talk about how expensive jewels and even entire cities are totally hidden from view under the dirt. Only by digging below the surface are these things found.
- Ask people – especially older people to share stories of exciting (and godly!) adventures from their youth. Kids often think old people were always old and boring. Learning about these adventures will help them realize there is more to people than is obvious to the eye – an entire lifetime of experiences and adventures. Talk about how it is important not to assume someone is and has always been what they look like at the moment. It is important to take the time to really get to know people and their hearts.
- Teach your kids about logical fallacies. There are some fun books for kids on the subject. Often people use what sound like logical points to convince us they have the truth. When carefully examined though, their logic is flawed and their conclusions are very wrong. I become more convinced every day this is a crucial skill for all Christian kids to learn to avoid false teaching or being convinced the Bible is somehow flawed by someone using logical fallacies.
Have some fun, but teach your kids to look beyond the surface for the often vital things that are unseen or purposely hidden. It is an important Christian life skill they need to learn and practice.