Teaching Kids Scripture Study, Part 2: Light their Fire
Now that you’ve caught fire for yourself it’s time to help light someone else’s fire. I’m sure many of you know this can be tricky and it takes a lot of discipline on the part of us parents to pull it off. But it will be sooo worth it when we see the payoff of kids really learning from and genuinely enjoying scripture study (it really can happen!) as they experience true understanding and as they feel the power of the spirit. Robert Hales said,
“Teach[ing] one another the doctrine of the kingdom is a way to love and serve each other. Parents and grandparents, we tend to bemoan the state of the world—that schools are not teaching moral character. But there is much we can do. We can take advantage of the teaching moments in our own families—that means now. Don’t let them slip by. When an opportunity comes to share your thoughts about the gospel and the lessons of life, stop everything, sit down, and talk with your children and grandchildren.
We should not worry that we are not professionally trained gospel teachers. No training class or manual is as helpful as personally studying our scriptures, praying, pondering, and seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will lead you along. I promise you: the calling to be a parent includes the gift to teach in the ways that are right for you and for your children.”
I love sitting around a campfire with my family, it has become one of the most fun and enjoyable activities we do as a family (except that part of making sure no one falls into the fire…but I digress). My desire to have lots of memorable smoky nights spent around a campfire is in large part due to the many nights I spent around the campfire as a kid, roasting marshmallows and making s'mores with my own parents. So many good memories, right?! I love carrying this tradition on with my kids and I also love to eat s'mores! It was the first time being around a campfire when my oldest son was just a toddler when I was so excited to teach him the art of roasting a marshmallow and making the perfect pile of graham, chocolate and lightly toasted marshmallow. Yummm. There was no forcing, no coaxing and certainly no faking my love for this treat, so the teaching and learning came naturally. We both enjoyed the treat and still do.
Just like eating s'mores (or Brussel sprouts) you can’t force anyone to love anything. You can’t force a fire to start! But with the right steps and tools in place to get that fire started, it is possible. So again today we are sharing steps to get that fire started, this time for your children.
In part 1 of this series we learned that, when starting the fire of our own scripture study, the first thing we need is a clear space to start. With family or children involved the same thing needs to happen. Choose a time when you can control the environment, a time that is consistently together time as possible and, most important, make it a priority!
This is where we start with those little pieces again, not something big and “too much” for little brains or teenage brains to understand or care about. Start with the whys. Why would a child be interested or care about the scriptures? Choose worthwhile questions that apply to them. Help them see that their answers can come from the scriptures, not just boring parent answers but even answers that matter and apply to them.
Don’t: “Let’s read about how we can become more obedient to our parents!!”
Do: “Let’s read about the right way to make friends!”
Now that you have made space and hopefully piqued interest for why and how you read, the fun part comes in. Get reading - in whatever form you have chosen to study, do it! And most importantly, don’t give up. Sometimes it takes a few (or a lot!) of sparks to show up before something catches. Even for you.
Throwing wood on the fire keeps the fire bright and growing. The wood will first come as you share and show how to connect patterns and themes or share insights into how certain stories or principles have affected your life. Eventually, once you have shown them the way this works, they will be able to show how it has helped them or what they have learned.
Give the fire some air by referring to study from last night or last week as you are talking at breakfast, dinner, on a walk or in the car. When kids have a question refer back to an answer that you received in your personal study or family study you had previously. Give the fire some air by showing, pondering, recording and solidifying the real life application of scripture study. If we only give the fire air once a day at a formalized scripture study, the flame will be smothered.
There are so many different ways, shapes, forms today that we can make this steps happen: different devices, listening, watching, reading, marking, coloring. Choose what’s best for your troop and get this fire started! Don't seek for perfection, just strive for a spark so that maybe one day it can cook food, grow into a bonfire, or share a flame with someone else.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's post, where we will share the third and final part to this series, including examples of real-life families and how they are making it work.