Choosing resources for our children’s devotions can be an overwhelming task. There is so much on the market to help our children. But I offer some caution.
- Our first concern is that our children build a relationship with God – talking and listening (includes reading His Word). We want our children to treasure the Word of God. I believe devotional books are helpful but not to replace the reading of the Word.
- Choose resources that are at your children’s level. There is no holiness in being advanced. This is not school. If your child is learning to read, give them a Children’s Bible story book as their Devotional. If your child struggles to think about God’s Word, have your children’s Quiet Time together for a few more months.
- Choose resources that are where your child is at, meeting their spiritual needs right now. What is it that they really need right now? Do they need the Bible stories? Do they need to be comfortable reading a real Bible? Do they need to be thinking more not just skimming? Do they need encouragement in heart faith not head knowledge? Do they need to be encouraged in memorising scripture – taking it to heart, or applying what they have learnt? Do they need to focus on prayer? Choose a resource and direction for your children that match their needs, not a predetermined pathway set out by friends, church, or publishers.
- Always consider your goals in choosing a resource.
- Consider appropriateness. Many Devotion books, especially those written for pre-teen and teens, are written for kids who are faced with issues of the world daily. Their non-Christian peers are making unwise choices and Christian young kids are being challenged in areas of fashion, boy/girls, drugs, heroes etc. If these challenges are not in your child’s face on an everyday level, you may want to consider if you want them introduced to these things via a devotional reading. We have chosen to avoid these types of devotionals and rather focus on ones that build a heart response to God regardless of situations. We deal with the above-mentioned issues together in our family time. Therefore we avoid much of the “tween” and “teen” publications.
- Consider each child as an individual. What works for one child may not work for the next. This of course is different when we study as a family but when looking for a resource for personal devotions, this must be a consideration.
- Ensure a connection. There is no point in working through a book if you don’t connect with it – sometimes there is no reason why we don’t connect – we just don’t. We need to allow our children the freedom not to connect too.
- If you are doing Quiet Times together with your children make sure you are excited, interested, keen with the subject and layout, and not “grinding” through it every morning.
- Consider learning styles – this is especially important if you are in the process of “winning your child’s heart”. Your child may need something interactive, may need visual prompts, may need time to reflect by themselves. Find a way to help them grasp the daily message to their hearts.
- Remember that your child is a person – and just like you have personal preferences when it comes to your Quiet Times, so too will your children. And the chances are high that they will prefer something different to you!
I encourage you to talk to other Christian parents, discover what they have found works for their family, but ask questions , don’t just copy their choices.
- Why did it work for their family?
- What did they enjoy about it?
- How did it change their children’s hearts?
- What ages did they complete the study?
Ask pertinent questions to see if it would fit your current family situation and goals.
At all times be flexible – remember that we are turning our children’s hearts towards God. That God doesn’t separate our day into little time-slots – all that we do, all throughout the day, is to be worship. We can over-stress on the 15-30minutes of devotion time first thing in the morning and then carry out the rest of the day in an attitude that does not please God at all. Let us be true to God, to ourselves, and to our children.