Children, Youth and Family Articles

Thoughts from Rebecca Christiansen

This is my friends four-year-old daughter, Eleanor. She has been practicing her letters, the sounds each letter makes, sight words, and by the look on her face she’s excited that she just read her first reading book. She is excited to read to her sister, Louisa, new baby brother, Ted, parents, grandparents on Zoom, and anyone else that will listen. Have you seen that look on your child’s face when they accomplish something they’ve been working hard to learn?  We experienced tears first and then eventually a big smile from our daughter who was going through her mid-program review at University just this semester. Perhaps you have seen those emotions too.

When you watch your kids or are helping your kids with their schoolwork at home, what do you notice? As parents, we learned a lot about how each of our children learned differently. One of our daughters used a lot of scratch paper to draw out math problems. She is our visual learner, and now Graphic Design Major in college. We have two kids who listen to books and follow along because they have Dyslexia.

I recently read a book called, “Children Matter”. The author, an education consultant, went into churches and met with volunteers and church leaders who lead children of all ages. She drew a line down the middle of a whiteboard. On one side she asked them for a metaphor to describe the kids they work with. Nearly always, sponge was one metaphor that was used. Can you think of any metaphors to describe the learners in your home? I know I have used “kids are sponges” to describe them. The list that the consultant heard from people included:

  • blank slate
  • empty cups
  • vessels
  • clay

She then asked, “What do these things have in common?” Empty cups, vessels need to be filled up. Clay can be formed. Typically, we think that is what we are doing with learners/students. Eventually, she pointed out that these metaphors are inanimate objects. A learner, no matter the age, is so much more than a passive, inanimate object. When you look at the picture of Eleanor – or your own child – do you see an inanimate object?

Next, on the right side of the whiteboard, she made a new list based on how the Bible describes learners: sheep, seeds, plants, and pilgrims (Isaiah 53: 6, Mark 4: 15 – 20, Psalm 84: 7, 119: 54) What do sheep, seeds, plants, and pilgrims all have in common? They are all living, growing, and active. I think this is a beautiful way to look at our kids and learners of all ages, as living, growing and active. The difference in the metaphors matters because living things become part of an ongoing story, The Big God Story. God wants kids to know that they are part of the story too!!

If you would like to learn more about Children, Youth and Family (CYF) ministries at Incarnation, click here.

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