Tips for family devotions with toddlers and preschoolers… it can be done!
Tips for Family Devotions with Toddlers and Preschoolers
Last week I gave you an idea of what we do in our house for family worship. Some days it changes for necessity’s sake but primarily what I laid out in this post is what we do on a daily basis. We have young children and that has an impact on the decisions we make but honestly when we got married, we had no idea what we were doing.
We wondered things like, should I just listen to my husband preach a sermon every day? Should we just read a text together? What should our “rules” be? What should our “norm” be? How can we be confident that we are doing this right?
We believe that our family should be pushing one another closer to Christ. My goal as a wife should be that I help my husband get closer to Christ. His goal should be the same for me. We should, together, have that goal for our relationship with our children. And someday when, by God’s grace, they know Him in personal relationship, that should be their goal for one another and for us. Not to mention all those who shelter here from time to time.
But how do we do that? Honestly we had no idea what we were doing so we have been reading, praying, experimenting, and seeking counsel in this area for 7 years. We are not experts but hopefully these tips will give you a good idea where to start with young children.
If you don’t yet have children, come back soon because another post is coming for you in the very near future!
1. Make it Enjoyable
This should be serious, we want our children to genuinely learn and have a reverence for the Word but we also want it to be enjoyable. Don’t tolerate silliness during prayer or Bible reading but allow it on occasion in the songs you choose or the way your respond. Children learn through being silly. So sing silly Bible songs, do all the motions with your children, belt out the lyrics even if you can’t sing (that’s me!), answer their questions genuinely, don’t be afraid to laugh. Take the Scriptures seriously but encourage your family to engage and make this time a blessing to them.
2. Make it Short
Don’t plan an hour for family worship unless your children are older and very studious and will actually enjoy that. My children are little and family worship would only be a fight if we tried to make it an hour long quiet time. You want your children to have fond memories of this time as a family so let it be short and remember that you don’t have to fit everything in today. Lord willing, you will have many years to do this daily and bit by bit they will hear and comprehend profound truth in short spurts.
3. Make it Regular
Do it every day whenever possible. Make it a part of the routine. Pick a time of day that works for your family to be together nearly every day and make it happen. In our house this is very hard. We try to do it right before bed as a way for our children to start calming down for the evening but we are often not all together at this time. However, our schedule doesn’t lend itself to us being together every day at any regular time so if my husband is unable to be home for this I lead the children in family worship. If we have guests over we will often include them in our family worship and if we don’t do that we do a shortened version in our children’s rooms before bed or we plan ahead by doing it during a different meal time. The important thing is that this becomes a part of your children’s habit. They should know that family worship is important and we plan around it.
4. Make it Simple
Don’t feel pressure to make it profound or share something meme worthy when you do family devotions. Stick to the Scriptures, show your children how beautiful and treasured they should be, and keep it simple. Reading and prayer is all that is really necessary. Including songs and catechism is a great idea. But keep it simple. Do not feel you need to reinvent anything or make the Scriptures more appealing. Love your family by happily sharing the truth with them.
5. Ask for Help
Don’t feel like you need to have everything together to do this well. It is a journey for everyone to find what works best for their family in their season. Don’t give up on it! Ask other families within your local church what worked for them, what didn’t, and any suggestions they may have. Even ask them to come alongside you some night to show you how they do it! Most families who take family devotions seriously will be more than happy to do this!
Fill Their Minds With Scripture
J.C. Ryle said, “Fill their minds with Scripture. Let the Word dwell in them richly. Give them the Bible, the whole Bible, even while they are young.” That is a beautiful truth, one we should schedule our lives around. Don’t expect your children to get all their Bible knowledge from a Sunday school teacher any more than you expect yourself to grow consistently if you only get your Bible teaching from the Sunday sermon.
Use family worship as a simple, profound way to love your family well and pray for the lasting fruit only the Holy Spirit can bring.
For more information on what we do in our house for family devotions and a printable to help you, check out this article…