Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Twas the Month Before Christmas~Teaching the Children

The holidays have rolled around every year we've homeschooled, and sometimes I've not always been as "ready" as I would like to have been . . . Ready meaning that I had prepared my family for the celebration of the birth of the Savior and a time to draw closer and enjoy each other more!

The hustle and bustle can really get a family down~but I say, "stop the madness!" and decide NOW just what you are and are not going to do this holiday season.  Do you find yourself involved in activities you wish you'd rather not? Do you find gift giving somewhat obligatory? OK . . . I am hitting it hard, but let's be real! THERE are things we just don't want to do that drag our energy down and out of our spririts when it comes to the season.  While the holidays "should" be the most joyous, often for people they are the most stressful and even fraught with sadness.  There are many causes for these, but just because silver bells are ringing and sleigh bells are jingling does not mean that in each heart is merry with "ho ho ho" or have peace on earth! We must recognize that there are stresses that come with this season and prepare now to focus intently on the meaning of the Christmas season rather than the hustle and bustle . . .

Focus on the Savior can mean many things to many people.  For some it's a Christmas Eve church service by candlelight.  Others it means serving in a homeless shelter soup kitchen or visiting in the nursing home on Christmas day.  For some it will mean reading the Christmas story from Luke 2 with gathered friends and family, while others will participate in various church activities from a live nativity, cantata, or the performance of Handel's Messiah. 

These are all wonderful expressions, but I am talking about something more.  It's now Nov. 10th and there are approx six weeks until the day of Christmas.  What will our children learn about our beliefs and values during this time?  Are we intentionally teaching the Christmas historical account now so that our littles are well prepared to know truth when the see so much secualar "fun" /error around them? Oh don't get me wrong . . . Santa need not be harmful, while some would disagree with me! I just believe in focusing on the truth more! ALL children love to enjoy Christmas, but as they mature the truth of the REASON for the season must be our focus! 

There are many activities you can do to teach the Christ's birth to children.

1. Tell the account as fact.  Focus on its historical nature.  Teach a reverence for the Bible as truth.

2. Do hands on activities to reinforce the story.  I like the NewTestament lapbook from Homeschool in the Woods by Amy Pak.  This is excellent and you can focus just on the Christmas story or in fact, teach the whole New Testament in lapbook form.  There is an emphasis on the prophecies of Christ's birth as well as the fulfillment of those prophecies.  It's excellent.
    You could do coloring sheets and crafts. 
3. Reinact the account of Jesus' birth with your children.  Get out the towels, bathrobes and sandals.  Use sticks, rope and sheets~anything to drape and make Biblical clothing that looks period for your child.  Discuss each part~the stable, the manger, the animals.  Use a baby doll and wrap in swaddling clothes! This is will meaningful for your children as they discover the story and learn of its truth.

4. Read a Christmas book: I highly recomment One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Grahm.  This is an awesome story that weaves in God's plan of salvation from Creation to the Cross.  This particular book is a worthwhile investment for every home of young children.  Read it every year! It's beautifully illustrated, and they will love it! It's a favorite of mine!

5. Do your children know the traditional Christmas hymns? Now is the time to dust off your singing voice and teach those songs of yeaster year. Away in a Manger, The First Noel, Silent Night, Carol Sing, Joy to the World!, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, and more! These songs are not played nor taught to children anymore, but Rudolf and Frosty sure are! Teach them the hymns of the faith surrounding Christmas now so when they are in church, they can sing too!  Do your young children know how to read a hymnal? It takes practice and if you teach them now with sheet music or borrow your church's hymnal (with permission of course) to teach how to read the stanzas and words.  It will make the church services more meaningful for your child.

6.  What about the Lord's Supper?  Is this observed in your church? What practices are there concerning your children?  Teach about these now.  Prepare your child to understand each elements' significance.  Allow your child more than an observational knowledge by your teaching prior to the experieince whether your child participates or not.  You child is watching~teach so he will understand what he sees!

There are many things to teach and prepare for the celebration of the birth of the Savior.  Don't get caught up in the trivial. . . of course I am going to discuss all aspects, but the most important is forcusing on the reason for the season, Jesus the Lord.

blessings this Christmas!

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