Friday, May 19, 2017

Little Kids in Big Church

Our church is quite small, and Little man is one of the few (and sometimes the only) little one his age. I haven't really liked the idea of having someone miss worship service to watch my one kid, so I have opted, since he was born, just to keep him with me. Something that was almost necessity, has become something I'm starting to feel quite strong about. At the very least, it's become something I quite enjoy.  I really enjoyed reading this article, and when the time comes and Little Man is old enough for children's chapel, I may make the decision for him just to remain with me.
It's been a learning experience, to say the least, with having him sit (or stand) quietly where he is. I'm no where near perfect, and he's nowhere near perfect. Just recently I had to take him out, when he wanted to whine-loudly. If you are a part of a small church like me, or perhaps you would just rather have your little one with you, here are some tips and activities for little ones from baby to toddler.

Baby-6 months:
I didn't know when I had it good! This stage is easy and hard at the same time. Babies cry, sleep, get hungry sometimes when it's the least convenient. The best thing at this stage is getting a schedule for your baby that will allow you to sit through church. It doesn't always happen, and my husband and I would swap Sunday Morning/Night Service, so that we got at least one a piece. What worked for me was letting Little Man nurse and nap during Sunday School, and be awake during church.

6-12 months:
Things get easier at this point, at least in predicting your baby's schedule. It's also easier than the future, entertaining your baby. At this stage I had touch and feel soft and board books and quiet baby toys. Here are some of my favorite books:


I also liked the 'Is that my..." series from Usborne, for touch and feel books. These are still entertaining him today!

12-24 months:
Here is the hardest time to quietly entertain, in my opinion. One of the things that helps is when you read your child a story, make sure they sit for the entire thing. This will get them used to being quiet and letting someone else talk. At this point they are more likely to start getting bored with just looking at books, but too little for more of the toddler quiet play. Things like stickers, crayons, quiet toys, Cars, little people, etc. are good for this stage. And I'm going to own up to this-but my child ate plenty of those Puffs during this stage! Those things can keep them busy!

2-3 years:
Ahhhhh....We are back to an easier stage! You might be thinking, "What about the 'Terrible 2's tantrums?" I'm not saying it's always great, but at this stage, your child should know when you mean business, and know that church is not the place to get very loud. Also, when you take your child to the nursery if they act up, make them sit in the chair with you and not let them get up. Then the nursery will not seem like the fun option during church. They will want to go back to the pew where they can at least play with their toys! Here are some of my favorite quiet toys and activities:
I love the little 'go' packs from the dollar store. They have a lot of the Disney movies that my son likes.
Also at the Dollar Tree they have those sticker scenes that can entertain for a long amount of time!
Pipe cleaner activity

*My son loves the Water wow!! This entertains him for a long time!
This can be paired with books, stickers, legos, cars, etc. I have a church bag that I try to change out each week so that there is something new and exciting. I also have a few things that he only does at church, so it feels special

4-6 years
Here are the unknown years for me, but I can tell you what my parents did for me and my siblings, and what I plan to do with my little boy. At this point, especially if they are being schooled (by you or elsewhere), they should know how to sit and be still. Because they still haven't reached the point of finding sermons very interesting, coloring books, tracers, and sticker books are really great. Most of these things allow you to listen to what is being said. I was six when I came to know the Lord, so I can tell you that little ears hear more than you give them credit for! Also, make learning about the Bible something you learn about every day in your home. My little boy is not yet 3 and he will tell me when he hears a familiar name or story being told by the preacher. The key is not only making your child quiet so others can hear, but the activity not so engaging that they don't hear what's being said.

7+
I believe that once a child gets saved, it's very important that they listen to the sermon. After they join the church, they are just as much a member as anyone else. This is key growing and maturing time for them. This means that you need to make church going, and Bible time at home a priority, if you want your child to see it as such.
That being said, this is a good time for sermon note taking. When they are just learning to read and write, maybe they can draw a picture of what is being preached about, and maybe a sentence or two of what they learned. The sentences can get longer and the drawings can become more doodle-ish (I myself am a doodle note taker. It helps me to think!).

So there you go. Some tips on helping your child stay with you during church. Of course, I am not against children's chapel (my son went just this last week!), and if you feel like you need to then by all means. I will encourage you to ask your child what they learned and have them pay attention in class. God's Word is so important, and teaching your children young is so important! Let me know what you do to keep your child with you in church.

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