Practical Tips From the Bible to Have the Time to Teach
Deutoronomy 11:19 "Teach them to your children. Talking about them when you sit at home, and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."
Nothing beats being with ALL three of my children. While being with Angelika, my Haiyan storm girl-survivor, spending time with her and finding time to teach her, I couldn't help but send a prayer that my two other children, Misha and Ella, also had their learning moments. Now that I am with all of them, I have plenty of making up to do. The time away from them has made the importance of teaching my children more profound.
Any time around the clock can be teaching moments, but as I have mentioned in my last post A Time to Teach, we need to be intentional, especially in our times when anything and everything can distract us from our goal of teaching our children.
Drawing from the Scriptures' wisdom--- Deutoronomy 11:19 (the verse above)--- here are some practical tips in making the most of the four mentioned moments we do in our routine--- get up, sit, walk, lie down.
1. "…when you get up"
Everyday is a miracle. The sun goes up without any of our doing and we wake up because of God's mercy. It is just right that our first breath is a prayer of thanks to our Creator. Tuning our children's hearts and minds to God will impress in them a sense of gratitude and not of entitlement, and to expect a miracle in the day before them.
Some mornings I wake my children up with kisses or with a good morning song. After they are awake, I ask them about their sleep and tell them about the day or what to expect about the day. We offer a prayer of thanks, sing some songs of praise and that usually tunes us up to a cheery day. We talk about the songs. We read a story from the Bible, talk about it, ask questions (doesn't matter if we don't have the answer to all of them), memorize a verse/verses, talk about the verse, and talk to God again. Sometimes we don't have to do all of them. As long as we have talked about God and what He wants to do for us, have asked questions, and most importantly, talked to Him and asked His blessings for the day, then, we have done our goal--- in tune our hearts and minds to God's love, to respond all day to His love for us and let Him have control over our day.
2. "…when you sit at home"
Even if our kids are very active, they should have time to sit. And I'm not talking about TV watching. There should be time for them to sit and eat, as opposed to running around while eating. In some culture, children are chased around with a spoon. I'm grateful I married a Russian guy who means it when he says to the kids, "Sit down and eat your food." Because of him, I don't do chasing. The kids sit and eat, and I get to sit and eat my food too. And oh, how pleasant it is to watch my kids enjoy or stick to finishing their food while we talk. Yes, we switch off the TV. At times I turn on some good music and we enjoy the meal together. We talk about the food. We talk about what my children like or dislike eating. I talk about mine too. They ask questions. We discuss why some food are better for people and why some are not fit to be called food. We talk about what food keeps us healthy, happy and wise, and that God wants us to be all that so we can worship and serve Him best. We talk about life and anything that they want to talk about. And the next time we dine, we again talk.
Also, find the time to sit and play during the day (but not during meal times, of course). Get some toys, do play role or an imaginative play, talk about real issues that kids encounter during the day in their life; issues like sharing, honesty, how to handle a sibling, doing their part at home, cleanliness, anger management, etc., and what God's Word says about them. God's Word, with the teaching of the Holy Spirit, illumines us on what is right and directs us on the way to take.
Sit and read a book together. There are many things that concerns kids and when we talk about them or they get to read it in a book, it shows that their thoughts matter. We address those issues and when time comes that they encounter a particular concern, they already know what to do. It's like equipping them for life. Reading together is like storing treasures of wisdom and memories in both parent and child's life.
One time, Angelika was upset with me for taking the phone away from her. She likes to play with phones. Asked if she can draw how she feels, she draw a very angry face, a broken heart and wrote some words on the paper. It said, "I don't love you, Mama!" Ha, there are times too when I feel like I don't like my children much. So I told her that I would at times fail her, that I would even break her heart, and that she wouldn't like me much, but there is someone who will not ever fail her and who will always love her. Yes, many people may fail our children, even us with our huge devotion for them, but Jesus never will. We may break hearts, but God never will. He mends them. He is the Healer of my daughter's broken heart. In that one 'sitting', we have covered a lot.
If you do watch TV or some videos, make sure that the children learn something valuable aside from the fun and interesting scenes. Don't hesitate to interrupt when the Holy Spirit prompts you to confirm or rebuke what you are watching.
I think I have to say it. Don't let the children run around all day without them having at least a little quiet or sitting time. A little sitting down benefits a lot. It gives them time to think, to read, to talk, to do what they like to do like draw or write. Get them to sit down and sit with them. You'll both love it.
3. "…when you walk along the road"
Taking a walk with our children is a great time to bond with them, talk and teach them. There is a lot of lessons to be learned from the natural world that we can apply in our life. For one, everything in nature operates under the law of nature and when not followed, then, calamity or self-destruction happens. God's given law, the Decalogue, in the Old Testament was confirmed by Jesus and when not followed destroys lives and societies. Either of these law can explain the other. God operates in every aspect of our life and the whole universe.
We don't just walk in our days now. Most of us love to go on trips or on a faraway travel. We drive for hours, fly and sail. While on the road, we have plenty of time to talk to our kids about God and what He wants from us. Let us not pass the time without talking about what is important. We can talk about God's Law of love, His goodness, His mercy, His wonderful providence. We can do it through stories, parables or through illustrations using God's creation that we happen to see while passing on the road or on travel. For example, as our children see flowers bloom profusely during spring, we can teach them of God's creative power in our lives, of how His sunshine and warmth of goodness make us grow in Him as we let Him work in us even if we don't really see His workings with our natural eyes. How we just get surprised when people tell us that we make them happy and their day bright with what we do and say. Just like the seed surprises itself!
We can quote the Bible and what Jesus said about the birds, the flowers, and about being lost. The Bible has so many lessons both our young children and us can learn from. Being on the road is the best time to highlight God's wonderful Words of life.
4. "…when you lie down"
Young children need a nap during the day. Some are happy doing it, while others resist with all their might as if they are missing on on something when they do take a nap. However, it is during these drowsy moments that children are susceptible to our loving ministrations and our teaching. That is why children love bedtime stories and can go on for hours listening to anything we say. Take advantage of this time. Teach them what they need to learn. You may not have all the time, as there would still be chores waiting for your attention, but make the most of the little time that you have. Even 15 minutes is enough to teach them a lesson or two.
Then there's the real nighttime sleep. Oh, how my children clamor for their stories and, when we have plenty of time, we even get to act out the stories and sing about them. We have a lot of fun. One time, Misha got to play the role of the lame man healed by Peter and John. The girls played the parts of the apostles. My, how excited Misha was and he couldn't wait to do his leaping and jumping. In fact we had to do it a few times for him to be totally satisfied. (Haha..)
But there are times when we are late and it is best if I get them settled down and quiet by being in a quiet mode myself when I tell them the Bible stories, which often gets us all ready for our bedside prayer.
God has given us 24 hours and out of it, only four are mentioned in this verse. Actually, it didn't even say that we have to allot an hour each for each activity or teaching moment. It just shows us practical ways to have time to teach our children.
Sometimes the best time to teach occur at unexpected moments, but they happen rarely. When they do come, we have to be prepared. But rarely does it happen that we seek teaching moments. There are far more important things to do, we think. Wrong. If we don't make time to teach, then there will never be time to teach. And it is in the best interest of our children (and ourselves, our family and society) that we do so.
Considering the predicament we are in, the predicament of seeming not to find time to teach our children nowadays, this verse sure shows us practical ways to have time to teach our children. They are not unique ways, but like any of God's Word, they are true and faithful, and these may prompt many of us to be more creative, proactive and intentional. If you have more ideas, just leave a comment and here's to hoping that our kids will benefit from our teaching. Enjoy and may the Holy Spirit lead us.
You may also like to read…
A Time to Teach
7 Things I Must Teach my Children
Learning from the Ultimate Parent