Take a deep breath. Exhale slowly. How are you doing? It’s December. A notoriously busy and often stressful season. We don’t want to add to the noise. So…there is just one simple but super-important thing we want to encourage you to do this month.
Teach your child the story of Jesus’ birth.
It is easy to do. Let’s say that out loud together. It is easy to do. Young children love Christmas and they love a good story. Combine those ingredients together and mix in a simple age-appropriate mindset and voila - your children will light up about Baby Jesus. Trust us.
This is what we know to be true. Preschoolers are naturally open to God and will readily believe God’s stories in the Bible. Tell a young child, “Jesus was a very special baby who was born on Christmas Day,” and they will smile and give you a thumbs-up sign. (Not literally, but you get the drift.)
With this assurance, let’s move on to Christmas Storytime 101:
- Use a preschool-friendly picture book or two: This could be a children’s Bible (you have one of those at home, right?) or one of the stand alone books we recommend. Check out the Link-Round Up for all the specifics.
- Read the Christmas story again and again. Young children learn best through repetition. They thrive on it, in fact. Did you know that a child needs to hear a new vocabulary word (like Jesus, manger, or stable) repeated 20 times before making it their own. Repetition makes a child happy and drives parents crazy, right? You got this, though.
- For young twos and threes, say simple, factual statements about Jesus’ birth: ”Jesus was born. Mary was Jesus' mother. Joseph took care of Mary and baby Jesus." Provide hands on experiences for younger preschoolers. They can touch a non-breakable manger scene as you talk about Jesus' birth. They can shake bells as you sing a simple Christmas song about Jesus.
- Older threes and fours can begin to understand that Jesus was sent by God. They are also ready to discover more details about the characters (angels, shepherds, etc.) who were a part of the first Christmas. Simple Bible verses such as "Jesus was born in Bethlehem" (Matthew 2:1) will help threes and fours know that the story of Jesus' birth is in the Bible. Emphasize that Jesus' birth is the reason for Christmas.
- Do not worry if: Your child will only sit still and listen for a few minutes. You can’t answer all their questions. Your child seems to want to talk more about your elf or Santa or the presents they are getting. They are acting their age - short attention span and all. Remember, you are planting seeds. Just like a seed gets buried out of sight underground to grow, you can trust that your little learning sponges are absorbing God’s truth even if they don’t show it right now.