Since my oldest graduated and my next two are in middle school, I am re-entering the early learning phase with my three-year-old! Over the last 17 years of homeschooling, I have learned so much about what works for our family and for each child. It’s been a lot of trials, errors, and triumphs, but I am looking forward to starting again. This time, though, it will be more relaxed.
I am a firm believer in waiting until a child is developmentally ready for formal education. I believe young children should have lots of free play time and time to discover their interests. Our three-year-old is one who loves music and singing. She sings all over the house and remembers words to songs very well. So, what better way to introduce her to topics than through song? She asks me every day what day of the week it is, so I knew she was ready to start learning the days of the weeks, months of the year, and calendar. Pinterest is one of my favorite spots to find great ideas, and it was here that I stumbled across this adorable calendar trifold board. The credit for this idea goes to Amber from her blog From ABC’s to ACT’s!
I love laminating fun little activities, and putting them on a trifold board was a perfect condensed way to work with her, so this was right up my alley! All of the printables were free. I laminated them, cut them out, and affixed velcro to the back. I then positioned them on the board and put the opposite velcro where I wanted them to stick. The headings, days of the week, and months of the year are secured with clear packing tape. I also made pockets out of two sheet protectors. Then I bordered the whole thing with fun duct tape. All in all the project cost about $10! She really loves it and sings the songs all over the house.
Her schedule this year consists of morning time with me and her older siblings, where she plays while we do memory verses and some poetry. Then I do her calendar board with her. After that she has free play, story time, and outside time, and sometimes does a sensory craft with mama. That’s it!
Early learning doesn’t need to be stressful. Keep it simple and open ended. Let them play and explore.
Almost from the inception of our homeschool journey, we have made learning scripture to music an integral part of hiding God’s Word in our children’s heart. This has been a fun, simple, and quick way to “…bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes…” Deuteronomy 6:6-9. Music is a second language, especially to young children. Even the smallest child can learn scripture to music, just as they learn any elementary song. And, though we madk this learning tool available primary for our children, we adults learn as well. It is truly a family affair.
Learning verses through music is an effortless way to memorize the Sword, and thus empowers one to fight the good fight of faith. As your child becomes more and more efficient at absorbing God’s Word, they will be conscience of their thoughts, their words, and ultimately their behavior. What a wonderful way to “resist the devil,” James 4:7. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee,” Psalm 119:11.
Since children adapt so well to music, the verses are infused into their minds very quickly. Because we as a family chose the King James Version of the Bible, which seems to be a little more difficult to memorize the traditional way, learning it to a tune took the sting out of the ancient text and gave a more palatable taste to the “thee’s,” “thou’s,” and “eth’s.” This grammar can hardly be detected when sung to a sweet melody.
Heaven at Home
Aside from making it a fun, simple, and quick way to learn the Word of God, playing scripture music brings a heavenly peace into any home. It’s as though one is brought to Heaven’s shore. We are whisked into instant fellowship with Christ. Scripture music speaks directly to the heart. The Holy Spirit’s presence is certainly felt once the CD begins to play.
I play the songs over and over to place a marked impression on their minds. And, as the impressions are being made, visual pictures can be created with the blending of words to song.
“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success,” Joshua 1:8.
“But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night,” Psalm 1:2.
“O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day,” Psalm 119:97.
Long ago we had an opportunity to purchase a set of scripture song books which came with a cassette of the music. There was one we especially liked, which was Isaiah 53. My middle child learned the whole chapter played to music, and has performed it several times at the many churches we have had membership. At our current church, she practiced with one of our excellent pianists and did an outstanding job. I have never read Isaiah 53 the same since.
If you are interested in purchasing scripture to song, there are many that are available for you and your family to enjoy. Here are just a couple:
Last month, I shared many ways that singing enriched my life and my family today. Music elevates our spirits and polishes our character to be right with God. It uplifts our thoughts to a nobler cause. We sing for fun, but our utmost goal is to sing purely to honor and glorify God every time we do. Only if we do this, can we help ourselves and our children avoid the trap of comparison, competition, jealousy, pride, arrogance, avoidance, prejudice, and many other things that are happening in the mundane world.
If we train our kids with Christ-like mindset, they will have love, a sense of duty, acceptance, and blessings; and, we can truly be powerful witnesses of God as we sing or in any activities we purposed our families to do. When we have this love for Him, we will have contentment, as well as the knowledge that we’re doing our best for God. This is turn, will help them grow appreciative, grateful, and more blessed.
Here are some simple tips we do as parents to encourage our children to sing. May it inspire you the same.
1. We sing to our kids. Researchers says babies in the womb can hear and react to music already. We sing every day — from the time they are a fetus until birth and onward. Both my children have reacted positively to songs since they were babies because they heard it while in Mommy’s womb.
2. We use Adventist hymnals every worship time. We make a list and pick songs to sing regularly for a week or so until we have mastered and memorized them. On Sundays, my eldest daughter is free to sing as many as she can. Our worship song service extends to 30 minutes or more just from her singing her chosen songs!
3. We sing short choruses. It’s a fun way to have children sing as they enjoy doing the actions that accompany the songs.
4. We sing Scripture songs. This is a fun way to hide God’s word in our hearts.
5. We don’t force, but encourage our kids to sing. This is important. Our eldest daughter, Nichole, didn’t show interest in singing solos, even at home, although she loves children’s choir at church where she sings with her friends. So, I was delighted when one day as a 4-year-old she sang on the phone for our relatives, and I found an angelic little voice in her. Now, her voice is continually improving, and she knows that God blesses her effort and makes her better when she uses it. Remember the Parable of the Talents? She knows it by heart.
6. We don’t compare our kids with other kids. Have you had family who constantly tell you to let your kid sing because they see other kids at church, TV, or anywhere singing beautifully? Please don’t be pressured by them. My husband and I always remember that we are created uniquely, and our children will open up and sing when they are ready. We are not born singers anyway, and it took us a long time to sing solo. For the meantime, continue with encouragement, nurture their spirit, and try to discover other potential talents they could have.
7. We tell our kids we obey, praise and worship God when we sing. It’s a special way to glorify God. The Bible tells us in Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
8. We sing because we are happy. We let our kids hear it and invite them to join us.
Psalm 63:7: “For you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.”
James 5:13: “Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.”
9. We make ourselves available at church or any functions when we are asked. We tell our eldest daughter that when somebody asks us, it is one of God’s way of calling and asking us to minister to Him. Now, she also does the same. A few weeks ago, we were asked to sing again. I said, “Yes!” right away, and then asked our troops at home who would want to sing this time. We decided that my husband and I would sing a duet, because last time my daughter sang with him. But, when we started to practice, my daughter wanted to sing, too! We ended up singing together as a family!
10. We expose our children to good music. Andrews University campus and neighborhood is a very good place to live because it’s a wonderful community and has much availability of very good musical offerings. The Howard Performing Arts Center always has free concerts, and people are fantastic, down to earth, and approachable. Opportunities in learning are boundless. We always try to be aware of what is going in our area so we can plan ahead.
11. We look for ways to connect with others in our community. When my eldest turned five, we joined Berrien Springs Parent Partnership program in our area, which offers free community classes for homeschool students. We could enroll our child in up to four classes per semester. Last year, we enrolled her to take voice lessons, and for two years now she takes a Field Trip class. Through this, she has attended theater plays, heard the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and been on other trips that enhance her musical learning and development.
These are all good things you can start with. Now, what kind of music we exposes them to is another story. But, one thing remains the center of our life at home. It is God’s reminder to us in Philippians 4:8 that, “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things.”
Here are some song suggestions you can have fun listening and singing with your kids today. Be blessed!
Ladder of Life Series — This is a very good character-training program with stories and songs set to music. Book copies available at ABC as well. Audio CDs are not available. (Does anyone know how we could make it available to our SDA homeschoolers? Please PM our admins.)