Our house has been filled with singing. My 2 year old has discovered her singing voice and it is on full force! One of my favorite things about little ones at this age is that it is all or nothing for them. When they discover they can do something, they throw themselves into it. And boy, are they discovering! Don’t sell your toddler short. The learning potential of young children rocks!
We love to sing at our house, but we get so busy with our “stuff” that we don’t always stop to sing traditional baby songs. We do attend a co-op one day each week, and one of the classes I teach is Sing Through the Bible. At first glance, you might think nothing was being accomplished. We get a few notes here and there, but you also see a lot of kids with blank stares who are trying to grab the next toy we are using for storytelling.
Then something happens…you turn on Facebook and see a video of one of your students singing one of the songs. Then your own little one is singing herself to sleep. The next thing you know, after the study of Noah, she is pointing out rainbow umbrellas. The super cool thing? God rewarded us that very next weekend with a REAL rainbow in the sky so we could point it out and talk about God’s promise all over again! The next night she is picking a book for me to read to her. Out of 50 or so books, she finds the story of Noah. Coincidence? I think not.
One of my biggest frustrations is that people tend to think you can slack off with little ones. Teaching the babies and toddlers class is often thought of as the easy way out. You just get to play right? Wrong!!! As noted in the examples above, KIDS ARE SPONGES when they are little. They are soaking up EVERYTHING. So would we hand them a doll or a block and send them on their merry way? Sometimes. But THIS IS A PRIME OPPORTUNITY FOR THEM TO SOAK UP WHAT WE WANT AND NEED THEM TO–THE LOVE OF JESUS.
“Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 ESV
I am all for playing and having a good time. By all means, don’t sit your kids down with pencil and paper or expect stillness as you lecture. Just TURN WHAT YOU WANT THEM TO LEARN INTO PLAY. PURPOSEFUL PLAY is our goal. And it doesn’t need to be all day every day. Perhaps it’s just 15 minutes. That is a great place to start.
But imagine the typical home where kids aren’t taught the Bible, even if the parents are Christians. (I recently read only 10% of Christian parents teach their children the Bible at home!?) If you are teaching them at Sunday School or homeschool co-op, or a Christian preschool, or wherever you get the opportunity to have them for an hour…imagine focusing that entire hour on Jesus. THAT MAY BE THE ONLY HOUR THEY GET TO HEAR ABOUT JESUS ALL WEEK. I’m not talking about a boring hour of lessons. Keep them moving and active, switching up the activities every few minutes–songs, art, games, books, movement, meaningful snacks that reinforce the lesson. They won’t have time to get bored! And look at how much they will be learning!
“As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11 NIV
I want to take a second to pay homage to those of you who have older kids too. In addition to my 2 year old, I also have a 5 and 8 year old. Life is busy! As with many families with multiple children, we tend to focus on what the oldest child needs while the others tag along. You have to do what you have to do for your sanity. Again, those little ones are sponges and you will be amazed and what they are picking up from their older siblings–even when teaching spiritual matters. Sometimes we, as parents, feel like this takes up all the energy we have. We just need to make sure that at some point during the week, our little ones are getting fed on their level too– and you don’t have to be the one to do it every time (though you should be doing it some!). It is good for our older children to learn to disciple the little ones too. My older kids enjoy singing and reading with their little sister at times. You don’t have to wear yourself out to make sure your little one is spiritually fed.
WE SELL OUR KIDS SHORT. We don’t give them enough credit for all they can do–not at the age of 1, 2, 5, or even 20. God created these amazing little people in His image. He is pretty smart. When we look at them, do we see that reflected too? Use today to plant the seeds that we want to see flourishing in our children’s hearts tomorrow. What we do with our toddlers matters. What are you giving them to soak up?
What amazing things have you seen your toddler do? What do you like to teach your toddler?