Helping Kids Find the Freedom in Boundaries

Helping Kids Find the Freedom in Boundaries - Parenting Like HannahElectric fences amaze me. You can’t see the lines, but even very large animals soon learn to avoid them. I like to think those fences are to protect me when I walk by the animals. Actually, the owners install those fences to protect their animals. They know if the animals leave the safety of the yard or field, bad things can happen. If the animal stays far from the fence, it enjoys easily found food and water in abundance. It is protected from cars and hunters. Even though life on the other side of the fence may look more interesting, in reality it is fraught with dangers the animal is unprepared to handle.

The biblical concepts of laws and freedoms can be confusing, especially to kids and teens who are constantly exploring the boundaries in their lives. Since we are all too aware of the consequences of crossing the lines God has drawn, we become tenacious about repeating God’s laws. Teaching your child God’s laws is essential. If you have followed Parenting Like Hannah for very long, you know I believe it is vitally important for our kids to have firm and consistent boundaries.

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Teaching Toddlers About God

Teaching Toddlers About God - Parenting Like HannahPeople greatly underestimate what kids are capable of learning and understanding. Even very young children can begin learning basic ideas and concepts about complex things. Unfortunately, many parents want to wait until children are older to begin exposing them to God and the Bible. Oh, they may take them to church, but often the child just ends up playing in a nursery classroom or running up and down the halls.

If you are tempted to wait until later to introduce your child to God, I encourage you to change your mind and start now. You may wonder what a small child can even understand about something as awesome and as complex as God. Yet in reality, many things about God are very basic and simple enough for even the youngest of children to understand.

Here are a few lessons you can begin teaching your child under the age of three (you will repeat them in different, more complex ways with older children and teens):

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Explaining the Bible to Your Kids

9780764211287Although I took several English classes studying the works of Shakespeare, I have to admit I wasn’t disappointed years later to encounter several series that explained the basic plot points, themes and significance of the various plays. It isn’t that I can’t understand the plays themselves, but sometimes it is nice to have everything summed up for me before I dive into the intricacies.

The Bible is an interesting book. It is both very basic and straightforward and extremely complex and mysterious. The combination can make some people afraid to even open it. (Translations using archaic English don’t help, either.) What many people need is someone to give them a big picture view before they read the Bible and try to understand the finer points.

I was interested to get a chance to review Quick-Start Guide to the Whole Bible: Understanding the Big Picture Book-by-Book by Dr. William H. Marty and Dr. Boyd Seevers. The authors break down the Bible one book per chapter. Within each chapter, they provide the setting, summary and significance of that particular book of the Bible.

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Talking to Kids About God

Talking to Kids About God- Parenting Like HannahWhen my daughter was an infant, I used to put her in the stroller and take long walks around our neighborhood. Looking back, I am sure people driving by probably thought I was a little strange, as I talked to her constantly the entire time. Whether I was pointing out things for her to notice or telling her stories about what we would do later, she heard constant chatter.

Studies have shown talking to infants makes a huge difference in their intellectual growth. By the age of two years, babies who had been spoken to a lot by their parents were up to six months developmentally ahead of children who heard little conversation from their parents. (Guardian Feb. 14, 2014, Ian Sample) In fact, according to Mr. Sample, Professor Erika Hoff stated, “Children cannot learn what they don’t hear.”

What a powerful thought! Our children cannot learn what they don’t hear. Even more importantly, the article quoted experts as saying television and iPhones were no substitute for adults talking to their children about things they might find interesting. Healthy language and intellectual development were dependent on direct, focused, parental involvement.

What if we applied educational science to spiritual education? How would this information apply to teaching our children about God? What things would we need to do to make sure our children were learning about God in the best possible ways? What if we were as concerned about our child’s spiritual development as we are about their language development?

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Bible Review Fun

Bible Review Fun - Parenting Like HannahFor Bible stories and principles to become a permanent part of your child’s memory, they must be repeated many times over the course of many years. As a parent and teacher, I am always looking for new ways to make review a little more fun. Yesterday, we decided to use a game to review everything we had learned over the summer. My husband invented the original normal table sized version of this game and we took it up a notch by making it life-sized!

There are a few keys to making any review game successful. Fun of course is important, but your students need to really know the material well before playing. When we played this yesterday, the children who knew the material were very competitive and running like crazy. Visitors who had never been taught any of the information struggled a bit more.

To compensate for different knowledge levels, you can tweak the rules of any game. We had teams consisting of a mix of ages and knowledge levels so one team didn’t dominate the others. We also allowed children on the teams to take turns answering, so one child on each team didn’t dominate. I also threw in a few simple questions which went with our theme, but were very basic Bible knowledge (Ex. “Everything we have is from ____.)

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