Children and the Worship Service

When our oldest children were babies and toddlers, their time at church was spent in the church nursery. I actively participated as a nursery volunteer and at times even served as nursery director. As our children grew older and more children were added to our family, out thoughts on children’s programs, nursery, and worship changed.

We came to believe that instead of nursery or children’s church that being beside us in worship was where our children needed to be.  While it would be lovely if I could say that my children were perfectly behaved, well, it would be beyond misleading. I have spent many Sundays stepping out of the sanctuary with a little one who was fussy, or tired, or loud, or squirmy. In all honesty, I thought one of my children may never grow into the ability to sit through a worship service.

There were some Sundays when I spent very little time in the worship service. I suppose you could stand up and say that this is exactly why nursery and children’s church is needed. And I wholeheartedly disagree. We step out and we go back in. Because worship is important. And our children realizing and understanding how important it is makes it worth every trip in and out of the sanctuary. Every Sunday bouncing a baby in the back. Every pencil and piece of paper shoved in my bag for my little ones to “take notes” on.

A writer I am not. I frequently struggle to find the right words to express myself. This is why I love this article, Should Children Sit Through Big Church by John Piper. He says so well what I wish I could convey. The Family: Together in God’s Presence was written by John and Noel Piper in 1995 but is an excellent article with practical advice.

While I am still dealing with a squirmy two year old on Sunday mornings, I also get to see what is on the other side. I see my teens engaged, taking notes, commenting on sermons, and recognizing good, solid, biblical teaching. I see my younger children singing, listening, soaking in the scripture from the pulpit. And there is nothing more beautiful than seeing my family, together, in worship. Beautiful, indeed.

 

Talking Shapes – Early Literacy Resource Review

It seems that the current trend in the American education system is to begin pushing academics at younger ages each year. I am a firm supporter in the value of young children playing and exploring their world instead of sitting at a desk. However, as a mom with a wide age range of children, I have young ones who want to “do school” like their older siblings. While my four year old daughter does not sit down for formal learning each day, we do have opportunities for her to add to her knowledge in more structures ways.

Over the past few weeks we have been reviewing an early literacy resource from Talking Fingers Inc. Talking Shapes: A Supplemental Curriculum for Early Literacy is an online learning tool that gives exposure to young children (around 4 – 5 years of age) of letters, their sounds, and how those work together to form words, sentences, and stories.

**Please note that the above link takes you to the Talking Shapes: A Supplemental Curriculum for Early Literacy App. We did not review the app for this program but the online version.

Talking Shapes is a series of seven stories, told by two sisters, that introduces the 40 phonemes in the English language. To help children remember the phonemes, picture cues are used such as: cat for the letter C, hat for the letter H, and fox for the letter F. There are activities included to help with review and practice: drawing the letters, a game to recognize specific sounds/letters, and popping  balloons that match a word in the story.

Our Experience with Talking Shapes

When we received Talking Shapes a few weeks ago, my initial plan was to have Martha use the resource two – three times a week for about 10-15 minutes. Martha is 4.5 and has had no formal literacy instruction. This seemed like a fun, low pressure way for her to become familiar with letters and sounds. Unfortunately we have had a few issues with the program that have hindered much enjoyment or learning with Talking Shapes.

One aspect of the program is having the child draw the letters on the screen. A touch screen is recommended for this activity which seems a logical choice. I grabbed my Kindle Fire to pull up the online resource and it failed to load. I contacted Talking Shapes for tech support and was told:

“The Talking Shapes app will run on a desktop/laptop computer running MacOSX or Windows.  It will not run on mobile devices based on iOS or Android.  That’s why it doesn’t come up on your Android based Kindle fire.”

Since the only touch screens we have in our home are Kindle Fires this was disappointing but decided we could work around that and still benefit from the program. However, we continued to have technical issues. After being unable to load Talking Shapes on my computer, it was recommended to install Chrome. Instead of installing Chrome on my laptop (which is a bit outdated and running on Vista), I used another computer in our home that already had Chrome installed.

Every time Martha and I signed in to Talking Shapes it would take at least 10 – 15 minutes to load. I was concerned at first that it was an internet speed issue on my end but  it appears to be related to Talking Shapes. We are able to use other online learning resources, stream videos/movies, etc with no such delay time. It was a bit frustrating at first but I simply signed in and didn’t call Martha to the computer until it had fully loaded.

Not being about to use our Kindle Fires made the drawing the letters portion of the program basically useless. In theory, you should be able to use your mouse to “write” the letters. While Martha does have excellent fine motor skills for her age, she found writing the letters with the mouse difficult and frustrating. It didn’t take us long to learn that if you wiggle the mouse around enough, the letters will fill in without you actually “writing” them. Since this portion of the program wasn’t really usable for us, we opted for writing letters on the dry erase board.

We still listened to the stories and used the other activities. Martha enjoyed having her own time to do school.  Since our goal was exposure to letters and sounds and not mastery, I think that goal has been met despite our glitches. If you are interested in using Talking Shapes: A Supplemental Curriculum for Early Literacy, I would recommend contacting Talking Fingers to make sure it will work with the computer devices in your home. Also make sure to read other reviews from Crew Members to get a broader picture of this resource.

Talking Shapes {Talking Fingers Inc. Review}
Crew Disclaimer

Let’s Visit Awhile. . . in England

*This post may contain affiliate links.

If only I was really in England!  No doubt my afternoon reading would absolutely lovely sitting in the English countryside. And that is exactly how I’m spending many of my free moments…reading!

It would probably be an interesting idea to actually post about the wonderful books I have enjoyed with my children and in my own private reading. I could even share about the ones that I sat to the side. It is rare that I don’t finish a book but it does happen! Unfortunately,  I am so far behind in reviewing/sharing what I have read, I don’t even know where to begin.

So, why not just share a book that I am reading and enjoying very much right now?

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep (Joanna Cannon) is set in the late 1970s in a English neighborhood. There is a wide cast of characters but the story is pulled along by Grace and Tilly, two young girls looking for God. If they find God, then Mrs. Creasy will be found. This has a bit of mystery/suspense, diverse and engaging characters, and absolutely lovely language. Ms. Cannon has a lovely way with words that create pictures for feelings, mood, and atmosphere.

“I stared past the vicar to Enid’s coffin, and thought of the ninety-eight years which lay inside. I wondered if she’d thought of them too, alone on her sitting room carpet, and I hope perhaps that she had. I thought about how she’d be carried from the church and through the graveyard, past all the Ernests and the Mauds and the Mabels, and how ninety-eight years would be put inside the ground, for dandelions to grow across her name. I thought about the people that would forever walk past her, on their way to somewhere else. People at weddings and christenings. People taking a shortcut, having a cigarette. I wondered if they would ever stop and think about Enid and her ninety-eight years, and I wondered if the world would have a little remembering left for her.” p 88

I just happened to stumble across The Trouble with Goats and Sheep one evening while browsing Pinterest. I wish I could remember where? Someone had it on a “must read in 2016” type of list. Spending so much time in children’s literature, I have to purpose to make time for adult selections.

“It was strange how different people’s kitchens could be. Some were shouty and confused, like Mrs. Dakin’s, and some kitchens, like Eric Lamb’s, hardly made a sound. A clock tick-tocked above the doorframe and a fridge whirred and hummed to itself in the corner. Other than that, there was silence as we ran the taps and stared through the window and washed our hands with Fairy Liquid. Next to the stove were two easy chairs, one crumpled and sagging, the other smooth and unworn. Over the back of each were crocheted blankets, reams of multicolored yarn stretched together in a shout of color, and on the dresser was a photograph of a woman with kind eyes. She watched us dry our hands and take lemonade from Eric Lamb, and I wondered if it  had been her patience which had woven together the strands of wool, for a chair she could no longer sit in.”  p.182

I’m just a bit over halfway finished with my reading and am eager to see how the lives of this little neighborhood are going to end. I’m taking it slow and enjoying my time sitting on the wall with Grace and Tilly.

“I still hadn’t learned the power of words. How, once they have left your mouth, they have a breath and a life of their own. I had yet to realize that you no longer own them. I hadn’t learned that, once you let them go, the words can then, in fact, become the owners of you.” p.187

What have you been reading this summer?