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I recently came across an article in Children’s Ministry magazine with tips for the first time Sunday school teacher. It recognized that first time teachers are often nervous and uncertain about how to effectively relate to their students and could use some practical advice. While the church teaches that parents have the primary responsibility for nourishing the faith of their children, many parents may also feel like first time teachers, unprepared and unsure of how to teach their children about God. So, I adapted some of the tips highlighted in the article to apply to parents.
As you teach your children the faith, keep the following in mind:
- Keep it relevant: When reading to your children, use translations of the bible that your children can understand, maybe starting with a simple children’s bible with engaging illustrations, then graduating to other translations as your kids mature. Relate the lessons to their lives and the individual ages and personalities of your kids. Use music and songs that make clear statements about God.
- Establish simple routines: Just as classrooms flourish when teachers establish and stick with routines, your family devotions can stay on track when you develop a plan and stick with it. Maybe it will work for you to pray together and have a scripture- based devotion at a common meal time. Perhaps you prefer to incorporate a family devotion as part of the end of the day routine. Remember that what works when your kids are in preschool may not be as effective once they become elementary age and adolescents. Resist the temptation to let family prayer and bible reading decline as your children get older. Sunday school is no substitute for the depth of teaching and prayer that regular family devotions can provide.
- Be prepared for off days: Just as teachers know that some days their classrooms can seem chaotic and the children hard to reach, parents know that children may go through times when they seem resistant to our teaching. Take comfort in the fact that God only asks that we work diligently at the task He has set before us, and that the Holy Spirit continues to teach and reach our kids even when we think we have failed.
- Remember that our children learn from what we do not just what we say: Sometimes the most enduring lessons we teach come from how we act in front of and towards our children. Are we often impatient and irritated? Do we model for them regular prayer and scripture reading? Do we treat others with love? Are we slow to anger and quick to forgive? As flight attendants remind us, we must put on our own oxygen masks before we can help our children. We cannot neglect our own spiritual life and expect that we can continue to effectively teach and minister to our children and our fellow members of the Body of Christ
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