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How Does Your Family Practice Gratitude?

 

With the holiday season approaching, we all want to help our kids to create a habit of showing gratitude. But sometimes it’s hard to know where to start! If you need a fresh idea to kickstart your family’s gratitude focus, check out what these Elevation staff parents have to say about how their families practice gratitude.

Angel and Kevin Carpenter: We have a three-year-old and a one-year-old. At their ages, instead of just asking what they’re thankful for that day, it helps us to start with questions like, “Who shared with you today?,” or, “Who made you feel special today?” It helps them start recognizing the people and things they can be thankful for even before they can really understand what gratitude is.

Jayson and Charmaine Price: We have a lot of people who love our children, all the way from our home state of Tennessee to here in Charlotte, North Carolina. So anytime our kids receive a gift, whether it’s from family or friends, we make a video of the kids saying thank you for the gift. If they got clothes, they might put the clothes on, or if it’s a toy, we’ll show them playing with it. It’s a way we help them practice being grateful for what they’ve been given.

Stephanie and Mark Esposito: My husband and I have learned that any lesson is better shown than spoken, so gratitude in our home starts with our posture as parents. It’s so much more powerful for them to see gratitude in our everyday attitudes and actions. More than anything, we want to teach them to show gratitude towards Christ, so we make sure prayer isn’t just a mealtime and bedtime practice. It happens in the car, at the playground, or wherever we are. We show them how to look for things we can thank God for, even in the moments when it might not feel obvious.


Terry and Ellen Bruce: Lately we’ve really been working with our children on developing their prayer lives. Every day, a different person “owns” the prayers when we sit down to eat together. We always start with saying thank you, but before we thank God for the food, we thank Him for something and someone we’re specifically grateful for that day. One of my kids is a natural prayer warrior, but the other two never wanted to pray out loud. Since we gave them these easy conversation starters to use when they talk to God, it’s been amazing to see them get excited when it’s their day to pray.


Table Talk I Week of November 9

Family life is busy, so being intentional with the time you do have is more important than ever. Table Talk helps mealtime matter — whether it’s at the soccer field, in the car, or around the table. Let this resource be a tool to connect your family and create faith-based conversations with your Quest and Motion children.

 


QUEST 

3 YEARS – KINDERGARTEN

This weekend, we learned “I can thank God for my friends.” David and Jonathan were the best of friends. Each one looked out for the other, and they loved to share with each other. We can thank God for the friends who help us, share with us, encourage us, and make us laugh. Check out this week’s curriculum recap here.

Question 1: Why were David and Jonathan thankful for each other? (They were good friends and promised to look out for each other.)
Question 2: Who is a friend you can thank God for? Why are you thankful for them?
Question 3: What makes someone a good friend? How can you be a good friend to others?

 


MOTION

1ST – 5TH GRADE

This weekend, we learned about setting aside quiet time to be with God. It’s hard to hear from God and grow in our relationship with Him when we’re surrounded by distractions, but setting aside time for silence and solitude helps us focus on God and hear what He has to say. Check out this week’s curriculum recap here.

Question 1: What are some things that distract you from spending time with God?
Question 2: How can you help yourself not become distracted by those things?
Question 3: When will you set aside time to pray and read your Bible?


Motion :: November Parent Cue Article

If you’re a parent with a faith of your own, chances are it’s important to you to instill solid, character-building, faith-growing practices in the daily habits of your children.

If you’re a parent, and you’re anything like me, thinking about being responsible for the development of someone else’s faith feels like immense pressure—like rhino-on-my-chest level pressure.

Meanwhile, I’m over here multitasking my time with God, with drying my hair, brushing my teeth, shaving my armpits, all while wiping down the bathroom sink. And I’m supposed to teach my daughters how to create healthy spiritual disciplines?

Send help. SOS. Somebody put my kids on your church prayer list!

But let me give you (us) some hope—just thinking about teaching our kids spiritual disciplines is a huge step in the right direction. Our thoughts steer our actions, and our actions are required when it comes to parenting with intentionality.

That being said . . . just thinking about anything doesn’t really accomplish much (as in it accomplishes nothing). Unfortunately, daydreaming about hours spent on a treadmill will not actually do a thing to work off the Boston Crème donuts I indulged in this morning. Sigh.

Like with all parenting principles, teaching your kids how to pursue a relationship with their heavenly Father takes action, consistency, and patience.

Here at Parent Cue, we have identified four skills that every kid can learn and practice to help them grow in their faith:

HEAR: Listen to God’s Word. When we read the Bible and listen to what God has to tell us through His word, we learn we can trust God no matter what.

PRAY: Dialogue with God. Through prayer we connect with God. We show gratitude, say we’re sorry, and express our feelings to God.

TALK: Articulate your faith. When we talk about our faith, we learn more about God and can tell others about Jesus.

LIVE: Worship with your life. Worshipping God is more than just singing songs. Worship is about living life in a way that honors God.

These four faith skills have the potential to create an incredible spiritual foundation in the lives and futures of your kids. So . . . how do we go about making these four practices daily habits for our kids? Here are a few tips:

1. It’s never too late to start.
8-years-old. 18-years-old. It doesn’t matter. God has a way of gracefully filling in the gaps.

2. It’s never too early to start.
Taking your baby to church (after your doctor gives everyone the medical “all clear”) is one way to establish that church (therefore, God) is safe and fun.

3. You don’t have to have all the answers.
I grew up in church, have studied in Bible college, and worked on staff at a church for many years, and I am still fuzzy on what I believe when it comes to some theological issues. Heck, I get rusty on the details of many “famous” Bible stories. I mean, Elijah and Elisha? Who can keep track of who is who? It’s okay – healthy, even – to say, “I don’t know,” when it comes to questions about faith. Other great responses are, “Let’s ask someone who knows more,” “Let’s look it up together,” or, “That’s a great question to save for down the road.”

4. Tap into resources.
There are tons available—apps, blogs, and books. Last year, a team of us got together to write a devotional for elementary school students that talks all about faith. It’s called Where in the World, and it’s an interactive journal that walks students through the life of Paul. I wouldn’t be mad if you checked it out.

5. It starts with you.
The best way to teach kids faith skills is to practice them in our own lives. You don’t have to make a production out of every quiet time, but modeling a daily pursuit of your relationship with God accomplishes way more than our words ever could.

Just remember – God has uniquely wired you to raise your kid. You can do this. Ask for help – from parents who are further along in their season of life and from God.

For more blog posts and parenting resources, visit ParentCue.org.


Quest :: November Parent Cue Article

“I will never be friends with Will! He has a funny looking hand, and I will never play with him!” my 4-year-old passionately declared the moment she climbed in the backseat of our car after her first day of pre-k.

I froze, eyes wide, mouth open. My eyes flicked to the rear-view mirror where I could see my little girl, scowling, arms crossed over her new navy dress with the words “BE KIND” spelled out in sequins. Where had I gone wrong? How had I missed the signs that I was raising a monster?? What were the magic words I had to say to reverse this immediately?

“Babe . . . that makes me feel . . .” I started, completely unsure how to finish that sentence. I settled on “. . . really sad.” Her scowl grew deeper. She was doubling down. “Sad for you, that you might miss out on a really good friend.”

“But I will never be his . . .”

“. . . Yes, I hear you. But I’m also sad for him. You know how nervous you felt about starting a new school this morning?” (Small nod) “Remember how scared you felt about making new friends? Can you imagine how it would feel to start a new school and wonder if anyone would be able to see past how you look and just be your friend?”

(A scowl and a huff) Okay. New strategy.

“What if Jude had a funny looking hand?” She had a fairly new baby brother she was obsessed with. Just a few weeks before she’d told me if anyone was ever mean to him, she would punch them in the face (maybe that was one of the signs I’d missed). “What if he looked different from everyone else and people decided not to be his friend because they didn’t like how he looked? How would you feel?”

“I knooooooww-uh!” Eye roll.

I knew I was pushing my lecture time limit but how could I—in good conscience—send this sweetly packaged monster back to pre-k the next day?!

“Okay, one last thing. Will’s mama loves him as much as I love you. She helped him pick out a first day of school outfit just like we did. She wants him to have a good year filled with great friends and I want you to be kind to everyone—not because they look like you or act like you or like the same things you like.

I want you to be kind to everyone because everyone is important.”

“I knooooooww-uh! STOP TALKING!”

Confirmed: I was raising a monster.

That afternoon, as she watched Daniel Tiger (singing, “In some ways we are different, but in so many ways, we are the same” in the background), I ordered no less than 10 Everyone Has Equal Value-themed picture books to subtly slide into our bedtime story rotation. I added shows and movies to our queue that had heroes who looked different or faced down bullies. I researched places we could go as a family to make sure she was regularly exposed to all kinds of people. And I signed up for a Meals on Wheels route for us to do as a family on our one free morning.

I wish I could say she went back to school the next week and invited Will over for a play date. But I learned that I can’t teach love in one day. There were no magic words I could say to fill her with empathy and eradicate all fear/hatred towards others. The truth is, my work on this subject will never be done. Not after reading all the books, watching all the movies, and delivering all the meals. Not even after she got in the backseat one day in May and announced, “I have big news! Will is actually my friend!”

Being intentional about the books we read, the people we interact with, the way my husband and I speak to and about others—this is work I should have been doing all along, work I must continue doing the rest of my life.

Because, guess what? I wasn’t raising a monster after all. We all have prejudices, fears, and biases. We all see and react to differences in others. And we all have to be willing to do the work needed to make sure the next generation is one defined by their ability to see the intrinsic value in every person they meet.

For more blog posts and parenting resources, visit ParentCue.org.


Safari :: November Parent Cue Article

When my wife and I told people that we were going to have a baby, they often asked what I was most looking forward to about being a new parent. My answer? The tax exemptions. I’m only kidding; my wife is a CPA, so that was always her answer.

No, I most looked forward to reading bedtime stories to my daughter. Once she was born, I proceeded to do just that. Even though she doesn’t yet understand the words, reading together has helped us to connect. And I ought to know the importance of stories because I wrote a book about it.

But how do you make the most of this opportunity? How do you make these stories fun for both you and your child? Here are a few suggestions from my own experience:

Make Reading Part of the Routine
There are lots of great reasons why to read your kids a bedtime story. But perhaps one of the best is that bedtime stories can help to establish a healthy bedtime routine. Even from a young age, this can help your child sleep better.

Having a set routine each night before bedtime signals to your kid that it’s time to start winding down. Reading them a bedtime story is an important part of this habit because it takes their mind off of the day and ignites their imagination.

Pick the Right Books
There are lots of children’s books out there—both good and bad. But what’s the best indication of the right book for your child? Whether it’s developmentally appropriate for their current age.

Many factors can go into deciding what’s age appropriate—from the complexity of the word, to the colors in the illustrations. Doing your homework before reading is important. That’s why we’ve included suggested reading lists in each of the Phase Guides. Because you’re too old for homework.

Do the Voices
What you’re reading is important, but so is how you’re reading it. One of the best ways to get your kid to understand the context of what’s happening in the book is from your delivery. They’re depending on you to be an emotional translator for them.

One of the most practical ways to do this is giving each of the characters silly voices. And make sure to do all of the sound effects. Children’s writers put those in there on purpose. What if you’re no good at silly voices? Who cares—you’re not on broadway; you’re reading to your kid.

Get the Kid(s) Involved
One of the biggest benefits of reading to your child is promoting their own literacy. The more you read to your child, the more they’ll understand and appreciate the importance of reading. And what better way to do that than by involving them in the process?

As they get older, let them start picking out the books to read. As they develop favorites, they might want to try reading aloud to you. Encourage them and gently guide them when they make mistakes. As you read, ask them questions about the book, like “And then what happened?”

Right now, my daughter is only five-months-old. So she’s some time away from reading books for herself. I try to get her involved by letting her hold on to the pages of the book. She inevitably attempts to eat the book.

At least I can say she’s been consuming literature from a very young age. (I’m sorry for the bad pun, but I have a quota of dad jokes to hit.)

For more blog posts and parenting resources, visit ParentCue.org.