Last week we discussed why family devotions benefit our kids, even when our kids are wiggly and distracted through them.
Today we’ll consider some ways we can minimize the wiggles and still their wondering minds so our kids stay engaged during family devotions.
How to keep kids engaged during family devotions
- Make devotions part of your routine. Routines help our children know what is happening next and what is expected of them. When devotional times are part of our routines, our kids are less likely to resist sitting down for them because they know they happen every day (or every week) at the same time. They’ll grow to anticipate the devotions and may even take actions (such as grabbing a Bible) to prepare for them without being prompted!
- Be realistic about time. Kids, especially young ones, aren’t programmed to sit still for long periods of time. Therefore, kids are unlikely to remain engaged and learn from lengthy devotions, particularly if these include a lot of listening and exclude interactive activities. When thinking about the length of our devotions, we should consider the ages of our kids (older kids can focus for longer than younger kids) and the content of the devotions (interactive activities keep kids focused for longer than passive activities). We can also consider letting younger kids keep their hands busy (holding a stuffed toy, building with blocks, coloring, etc.) as they sit and listen to the devotions. Personally, I’d rather have a short devotion that makes an impact on my kids’ lives than a long one that has no impact, so I try to focus on quality instead of quantity.
- Be a good model. As I noted last week, the adage that “actions speak louder than words” is quite accurate in parenting. If we aren’t engaged during family devotions (we respond to text messages on our cell phones, we have the TV on in the background, etc.), then our kids will follow our example and be distracted. Likewise, if we are engaged and enthusiastic about the devotions, then our kids will follow our example and be engaged.
- Cater to different learning styles. Each child differs a bit in how he or she learns. Including activities in our devotions that support various learning styles can help make sure our kids stay engaged.
- Auditory learners – Read the Bible out loud, recite Bible verses, listen to worship songs or hymns, listen to lectures or sermon snippets, etc.
- Visual learners – View graphs/charts/diagrams that reinforce the topics of the devotions, use symbols (e.g., lighting a candle at the start of each devotion), watch plays that depict Bible stories, etc.
- Read/write learners – Have the child read the Bible and then write a few sentences or draw a picture summarizing the passage.
- Tactile/kinesthetic learners – Use hand motions when memorizing Bible verses, pray and worship in various positions (e.g., standing, kneeling, sitting), act out Bible stories, etc.
- Share ownership. Devotions aren’t really something we do to or for our kids; they are something we do with them. Our kids will be more focused if they feel like they have things to contribute and that these contributions are valuable. For young kids, this may mean sitting in a parent’s lap to help hold the Bible. However, as kids get older, they can help read the Bible, choose songs to sing, pray, assist younger siblings in memorizing Bible verses, etc.
We’re using all of these in our household and they’re working! They are general ideas, so they can be applied regardless of what family devotions look like in your house. Some families have devotions daily, while others have them weekly. Some have formal, structured devotions, while others have casual ones. Whatever approach you use in your home, I hope these help bring order to your family’s devotions!
How do you help your kids stay engaged during family devotions? Please share your tips with us!