The rule of thumb for attention span is one minute for each year of age. A three-year-old may have a three-minute attention span. Break up your Family Time into three-minute increments. With variety, you can additional attention span.
Your children WILL ask you a question that you cannot answer. Promise to find the answer and get back to them within 24 hours. You can call a pastor or search the Internet for more information.
When your children grow up you want them to have fond, lasting memories of Family Time. When referring to your times of formal spiritual training, say “Family Time” often. Int he same way your children will remember going to school and church or playing sports and music, they will remember times of spiritual training called “Family Time.”
Kids love to put on plays. Pick a Bible Story, assign the roles from Director to Diva – everyone gets in on the act. Don’t forget to assign a videographer so you can watch it later.
Answering a question involves risk. Your child’s answer may be right or wrong. Praise him when he guesses at an answer. If he gives the wrong answer say, “Great guess! The answer is…” and give him the correct information. This will keep him participating. If you say, “No, that’s wrong,” children may eventually stop talking.
It’s great and admirable to have Family Time the same night every week. However, it may not be practical for your family. Be willing to move the night if needed. The important thing is to have at least one Family Time each week.
God commands parents and grandparents to be the spiritual teachers with their children (Deut. 6:7, Deut. 4:9, Psalm 78:5). Trust that God will equip you to fulfill his plan. As you prepare, and before you begin your Family Time each week, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you and clearly communicate the message to your children.
When sitting at the table, remove the centerpiece, pencils, paper…anything that can distract a child. A random paper clip left on a table can lead to a possession battle that will ruin the atmosphere for Family Time. Also, when using materials like balloons, string, etc., don’t bring them out until you’re ready to use them.
Whenever possible, especially as kids get a little older, involve kids in the lesson preparations. Preparation can be as much fun as doing the activity and certainly increases ownership. Kids will enjoy making an obstacle course, building a tent with sheets, or mixing a big batch of cornstarch.
Don’t wait another day to get started.
Start your Family Time at the kitchen table even if you are only going to be there for a few minutes. Chairs provide natural boundaries that will help children focus as you explain what will happen during the Family Time.
Be prepared to modify or change the discussion if the Spirit moves the conversation in a different direction.
Coloring a picture to reinforce a Bible Story can be an excellent teaching technique. While the family is coloring, great conversation about the lesson can take place.
Participate with your children in the game or activity. By participating, you show your kids that you value Family Time.
If you’re feeling frustrated or if family members have a negative attitude – reschedule. Keep it positive.
For younger children, put the lesson into a one sentence phrase like: “Noah had faith in God.” Or, “Be content with what God sent.” The same night at bedtime, remind children of the main point. The following morning ask them what they remember from Family Time the night before.
Commit to on e a week and do your best not to take a week off. Continue to do Family Time during the summer months. If you stop, your kids will sense a lack of commitment to Family Time on your part.
Younger children learn best through repetition. In the same way they will watch a video over and over, they may want to repeat fun Family Time activities. Be prepared to repeat the activity, asking the children to explain what the different elements represent. Consider repeating with neighborhood children; your children will learn even more when they teach others.
Younger children benefit from a structured time together. Consider following the Family Time Format each week.
Model for your children that it’s okay to be dramatic, silly, and have fun. Kids love it when their parents are playful.
Have a church service in a crawl space to represent the early church under persecution. Hold your Family Time outside at a neighborhood park. Repeat fun activities when visiting relatives on vacation. Tell the story of Zacchaeus while sitting in a tree house. Changing the setting of your Family Time can be fun.
Using a video clip can be an excellent way to teach a lesson. However, using video clips three weeks in a row becomes predictable and is less effective. Mix up the format and tools you use in your weekly Family Time (coloring, video clips, a snack tied to the lesson, etc.).
Family Time is seldom a disappointment to children. However, parents may sometimes feel like the lesson did not go as well as they had hoped. Often this disappointment is directly related to the parent’s expectations. Keep in mind that kids learn valuable things over time. You don’t have to get something fantastic out of each Family Time. Be prepared to learn right along with your kids.
One day your children will grow up and start families of their own. As your children raise your grandchildren they will be equipped with positive memories and effective tools to pass along the faith of their fathers.
Questions are cool. Frederick Beuchner says, “If you want big answers then ask small questions.” “What did you learn at Sunday School?” is a big question. “Who did you sit next to at Sunday School?” is a smaller question that can lead to more discussion.
Remember the most important things you can do: take your time, engage your child, and have fun together. A silly accent never hurts either!