In Part 1, I gave some of the background to how we approach Bible in our family and homeschool. Today, I want to tell you about how we are approaching Family Devotions. Keep in mind that this is merely descriptive of what our family is doing at the moment. This isn't some prescription for every family. And it could change...and probably will...as our children grow and change. But hopefully, this will give you some ideas to think about. =) Our children are currently age 7, 4, and 2-1/2 years old.
We started learning hymns together as a family several years ago - I think Michelle was around 4-1/2. While we enjoy singing modern worship songs as well, I don't want my kids to miss out on the rich thought and spiritual heritage contained in the old hymns just because many churches don't sing them often (or because we live overseas and sing French songs at church!) We approach hymn singing pretty simply. I have an old hymnal and we have gone through and chosen hymns we'd like the kids to learn. We sing one together as a family at the breakfast table, all of the verses, until we all know it pretty well. This usually takes us 3-4 weeks. Then we choose a new one. Occasionally we go back and review one of the old ones. And that's it. Don't underestimate what even very young children can learn. My 2 year old learns these songs right along with us. She may not sing along at the table, but has been known to spontaneously burst into the chorus of "On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand" for no apparent reason. =) We also have various hymn albums loaded onto the MP3 players the kids have in their rooms to listen to at rest and bedtime. Their favorite is Michael Card's Hymns album.
Scripture and Catechsim Memory
We started memorizing Scripture as a family when Michelle was around 3. We started with really short, simple, selections and have proceeded from there. We may do short passages (1-2 verses) for awhile, and then we'll switch gears and tackle something longer like a Psalm. (We've done Psalms 100, 23, and 139:1-18). Currently we are learning the Catechism for Young Children with a short passage to go with each question/answer. We use a very slightly modified version of the Simply Charlotte Mason Scripture Memory System to keep everything organized. I can't say enough good things about this system - it makes regular review of previous passages learned very, very simple. Bonus: because of the regular review, my 4 year old has picked up on many of the verses that Michelle learned way back when he was an infant without really trying.
We've tried a variety of things over the years, but with very young ones like ours the thing we come back to over and over again is just reading the old familiar Bible stories over and over again. Currently, we are reading The Children's Bible in 365 Stories. In the past, we have also read and enjoyed (and will probably read and enjoy again for the sake of the the littlest one) The Jesus Storybook Bible and The Child's Story Bible. Michelle is ready for something more than this, but we'll be addressing that as part of her schoolwork. But that's Part 3.
Other Bits and Pieces
We take a break from our regular Bible reading and do special devotions in the weeks leading up to Christmas and Easter. Additionally, I also like to read missionary/Christian hero biographies with the kids. I personally find these stories very inspirational and encouraging in my own Christian walk. This year, I have read Missionary Stories with the Millers with Michelle. We are also slowly collecting the picture books in this series which all three of ours are enjoying.
Last but Not Least
Probably most important of all is remaining sensitive to the teachable moments that present themselves, and being sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I blogged previously about this topic here.
Next time: How Michelle and I will be approaching personal Bible Study.