Quest :: December Parent Cue Article

“I want the other one!” my two-year declared as I took his usual favorite, Little Blue Truck, off the bookshelf. “I want the one in the attic!”

I knew exactly what he was referring to: Little Blue Truck’s Christmas. We’d loaded it upstairs with all the tubs of Christmas lights and ornaments. The book features a beautiful snow-covered landscape where Little Blue Truck delivers fresh-cut Christmas trees to his friends before coming home in the frosty dusk to his own Christmas tree with real blinking lights. It’s beautifully done, and even to my adult eyes, the book evokes a sense of wonder, a desire to befriend Little Blue Truck and join in the festivities. My toddler was mesmerized by it—so much so that he’s asked for it periodically all year.

The preschool years are an incredible time to incite wonder in the heart of a child:
Wonder at a Creator who cried out, “Let there be light!”
Wonder at a Heavenly Father who made them and wove together an entire world for them to explore.
Wonder at a God who is big enough to handle anything they will ever face.

Christmas provides an especially rich opportunity to encourage that wonder in your preschooler. I still carry vivid images from early childhood holidays:

Our family, snuggled together on the sofa with only the Christmas tree for light, reading Luke 2 and singing “Away in a Manger”

Dipping the feet of camel spritz cookies in chocolate “mud” to represent their long journey to see the Baby Jesus

Saving a sprig of our cedar Christmas tree in a special box, because its glowing beauty had made such a deep impression on me

God made beauty.
He made mystery.
He is both.
And He hard-wired our kids, in varying ways, to respond to it.

At Christmastime, you can take advantage of this—even if you don’t live in an idyllic snowy New England town with carolers knocking at your door.

1. Make room at the inn.
Wonder requires margin and space to unfold, so the first and most challenging step is to create space in your calendar. I know your December was already blocked out with Christmas programs and invitations before Halloween arrived. I know it’s tempting to make Christmas perfectly Pinterest-ing for your family. (And let’s be honest: for social media.) Instead, be intentional. Practice your “no” and stick with a few key events that really mean something to your family; keep the rest of your Christmas moments simple.

2. Offer lots of hands-on experiences.
Frankly, it’s hard to let a preschooler “help.” It takes at least 3.7 times as long. It’s exponentially messier. And the final result isn’t going to land you a Parenting magazine spread. But something amazing happens when you set the stage, and then allow your child to lead the way.

• Let your preschooler select and package gifts for a child in need. Operation Christmas Child and Angel Tree are just two of many opportunities. Encourage your child to consider what the world might look like through the eyes of a kid in very different circumstances.

• Invite your child to “deck the halls” with you. Put them in charge of ornaments for the lower part of the tree, even if you end up with a dozen candy canes on one branch. Give them the extra cuttings from the tree and synthetic snow to decorate the living room or play room.

3. Create beautiful things.
Your child is made in the image of the God who created flaming October maples and night skies brilliant with stars and planets. So give them raw materials to design and invent themselves.

• Build a nature Nativity. Spend time outside exploring and gathering supplies—leaves, twigs, stones. Then use the materials to build the elements of a Nativity scene. Populate it with the characters from a kids’ Nativity set, or just use your child’s action figures and toys. Tell the story as you put it all together.

• Christmas cookies! No one is judging if you use box mix and Dollar Store cookie cutters. Whatever your method, don’t let your child miss the flat-out miracle that all those various ingredients mix together into a glop that somehow turns into a delicious cookie with an overdose of sprinkles.

• Turn on the lights. Tap into a child’s delight in anything that glows or lights up. Make a Christmas wonderland of their bedroom by stringing up multi-colored lights or do bath time in the (mostly) dark with red and green glow sticks.

4. Tell stories.
Well-crafted stories can reflect the beauty and imagination of the incredible True Story that God is telling. Music and art can do the same. Find ways to introduce your preschooler, whether it’s through reading preschool versions of the Christmas Story or listening to different genres of Christmas music in the car and while making dinner.

• When you read the Christmas story, explore and ask questions. How do you think Mary felt about being so far from home when she had Baby Jesus? What do you think it was like for the shepherds when all those angels showed up?

• Grab a few electric candles or flashlights and go sing your child’s favorite Christmas songs for the neighbors at dusk.

• Keep your child’s favorite Christmas stories packed away until Thanksgiving each year. Make a special occasion of bringing them out—and add some new books, as well.

Whatever you choose, this Christmas, make space. Take time to recall the most magical moments from your own childhood holidays. Then set the stage for your preschooler, and watch their eyes to see the wonder unfold.

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


Safari :: December Parent Cue Article

What you do every week matters.

And what you do every week matters more when it happens over time.

But there are some moments that only come around seasonally, annually, or once in a lifetime. And the way you celebrate those moments have a different kind of impact.

Over the next eighteen years with your child,

some moments will . . .

create a shared experience.

mark a significant milestone.

begin an annual tradition.

Christmas may be one of the best holidays to create some family traditions. Whether your traditions remain constant or change with the phases, go ahead and try a few this year and make your baby’s first Christmas one to remember.

Four Gift Ideas:
If you are wary of too many gifts for one little baby, or you don’t want your home filled with loud noise makers and bright plastic obstacles to trip over, ask doting friends and relatives to choose gifts that fit in one of four categories: something they want, something they need, something they wear, something they read.

One Gift Tradition:
Start a tradition of new Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve, a special Christmas ornament to put on the tree, or a Christmas book to read before bed.

Nativity Story-Time:
If you have a nativity in your home, show your baby the different pieces as you set up the scene. Talk about the characters and tell the story as you put the pieces in place.

A Christmas Keepsake:
Commemorate “baby’s first Christmas” by making (or purchasing) something special this year that you will bring out every Christmas. Make a handprint. Get a special ornament. Take a picture. Create a memory book. Do whatever fits your style.

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


Table Talk I Week of November 30

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 “God told us He would give us Jesus.” An angel appeared to Mary and told her she would have a very special baby — God’s Son, Jesus! Mary was filled with wonder. When we think about God sending His Son, Jesus, to be with us on earth, our hearts are filled with wonder, too! Check out this week’s curriculum recap here.

Question 1: How did Mary feel when she saw the angel? (She was afraid.)
Question 2: What good news did the angel give to Mary? (Mary was going to have a baby — God’s Son, Jesus!)
Question 3: After Mary heard the news, was she filled with joy and wonder or fear and sadness? (joy and wonder)

 


MOTION

1ST – 5TH GRADE

This weekend, we learned about generosity. Real generosity is something we do quietly, not something we do for attention or applause. God is the only One who needs to see the generous things we do to help others, and when He sees us giving from a grateful and joyful heart, He promises to reward our generosity! Check out this week’s curriculum recap here.

Question 1: When is it easy for you to be generous? When is it difficult?
Question 2: What was the last thing you gave to someone else? How did you feel after giving it to them?
Question 3: Why do you think God wants us to give secretly instead of publicly?


Quest :: Week of November 30

This month, we celebrate the beautiful gift of Jesus. We want preschoolers to say again and again, “God gave us Jesus.” We want it to live deep within their hearts so they grow to trust that God loves them so much that He gave them His one and only Son, Jesus, to be their friend forever. May we all pause under our own starry, starry night this year and remember the wonder of what we are celebrating — God gave us Jesus.

This week, we learned about the time God sent an angel to tell Mary the good news — she would give birth to God’ Son, Jesus!

When you go into your child’s room this week, say, “Good morning! Who can tell me why this is the best time of the year?” and say, “It’s Christmas — the time when we celebrate Jesus’ birthday!”


Safari :: Week of November 30

WE’RE LEARNING… God gave us Jesus.
MEMORY VERSE: “God has given a son to us.” Isaiah 9:6 (NCV)
BIBLE STORY: Jesus is Born I Luke 2:1-7

This month we’re learning, “God gave us Jesus.” God loves us so much that He gave us His Son, Jesus, to be our friend forever!

We will learn the story, “Baby Jesus is Born,” in Luke 2:1-7. Mary was about to have a baby and was traveling with Joseph back to their hometown of Bethlehem. When there was nowhere to sleep. A kind man helped them by letting them stay in his stable. While they were there, baby Jesus was born, and we celebrate His birth at Christmas! God loves us so much that He gave us His Son, Jesus. We can know how much God loves us because He gave us His Son, Jesus, to be our friend forever.

We made a Bible Story Meal Time Mat to help us remember that God gave us Jesus. Place the Bible Story Meal Time Mat at the table where your toddler eats. Before each meal, point to the placemat and review the Bible story with your toddler:

  • Who is the baby in the picture? (Jesus)
  • Who gave us Jesus? (God gave us Jesus)

Say, “That’s right! God loves us so much that He gave us His Son, Jesus, to be our friend forever. Who gave us Jesus?” Encourage toddlers to say, “God gave us Jesus!”