Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Children in the Pews.

We made the decision many years ago to have our kids sit with us in church.  We started when our oldest was about four and a half by bringing only him out of the nursery.  Then after about six months or so of helping him learn to sit quietly, we brought our second child out of the nursery at almost four.  Shortly after that, our third, decided that the nursery was for babies and she was having none of just two years of age...which was shortly after the birth of our fourth baby.  So our church pew was filling up.  Our last three kids never went to the nursery but stayed with us from the beginning. 

The decision to worship together is one that we made for several different reasons which I do not intend to go into in this post.  However, I would like to talk about one of the things that we are starting to use to make this time a concentrated learning experience for our children. 

It is always the older kids who teach me the most...because they hit every new stage first.  For years, I have looked for ways to make worshiping together as a family something that was easy for the kids.  As they have become a little older, they have outgrown some of the things that I used to keep their fingers busy in church.  It is time for them to do more than just sit still and keep their fingers busy.  

For a while now, I have wanted the older kids to take notes in church.  They can all read and write so it seemed simple that they should be able to take notes.  It wasn't.  I gave them paper and pencil and told them to write down words, verses, or Bible characters that they heard our pastor talk about.  While this did keep their minds more engaged, it didn't really help them to learn the skill of note-taking...and they would often forget what things they were supposed to be listening for.
So, I decided to put together a form that they could simply fill out.  I included the things that I thought they would be capable of pulling out of the sermon at 6, 8, and 10 years of age.  Here is what I came up with.

This way they can fill in the information as they hear it and draw pictures while they are listening...without having to turn pages...or tear pages.  I printed this on both sides of the paper to put together in little color...of course.  

I doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that if the older kids have something, the littles are going to want the same thing.  So, I put together church notes for the little guys too...but a little different.

There was still one more thing that I needed to do before Sunday.  Practice.  Because it is difficult to explain and answer questions during a service, I like to practice situations at home where I can easily explain and answer questions without disturbing those around me.  Years ago, we used to practice "church" at home and have a "mock service" to work on proper behavior so now we are doing it to practice note taking.   To everything, there is a season!

Hopefully this Sunday, when the service is over, our pew won't look like an art explosion...hopefully...we'll see.

I will post later on how we keep preschool fingers busy during a church service.

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