Many years ago, when I was at a tiny homeschool conference with my husband and some friends, one of the speakers said, “Your child is old enough to bless others.” I can’t even remember the context. Was this during her talk? Or afterwards, during conversation? It doesn’t matter, really. What does matter is how she changed my perspective on how I managed my household. Up until that point, I had seen myself as the agent of blessing in the lives of my children; I hadn’t really considered their ability to bless each other.
Fast forward to a couple years ago. My youngest was six-years-old and doing kindergarten. Because he was truancy age, I did a more formal kindergarten with him than I did the other children. In the early months of this, it became evident that he had no understanding of basic Bible stories. Talk about jaw dropping!
I still have no idea how this happened. He had been around Bible stories from the womb on up, and here he was not knowing basic things, like who Adam and Eve were.
I wasn’t sure what to do about it. I had already planned our Circle Time Bible readings for the term, and I was concerned about changing those to something more basic. It gets tricky with multiple ages, doesn’t it? On the one hand, we have to keep going back to basics for the sake of younger children; on the other hand, we don’t want to forget to keep the older children growing. I had three children that were waiting for me to help them keep growing.
The question was what to do with the youngest. How does one go about remedying this ignorance? Obviously, Circle Time was not going to be the answer.
At the same time, I was feeling guilty about not having as much time to read aloud to him — meaning children’s books, for of course he was present for the many hours of reading aloud we do weekly — as the older children had. Unfortunately for him, he was the fourth born. There really was no way around it. Whereas his older brother had hours of my undivided attention, this little guy was getting the poor table scraps of time and energy left over after hours of teaching two elementary grades and also junior high, the two elementary requiring me to read aloud extensively.
I was tired.
I was concerned.
I was lost.
And then I remembered the statement from all those years ago: Your child is old enough to bless others. I believe this was providential. I began to bat this around in my brain: what would it look like for my youngest child to be blessed by someone other than me?
The end of the matter is that I set up a reading schedule for my daughters. My older son, I knew, didn’t really have time in his schedule. But my daughters were often waiting for me to finish with one of them before the other could move on. Maybe this would actually help in other ways!
For Mondays and Wednesdays, Daughter Q. was assigned reading aloud a children’s book to Son O.. Sometimes he picked, sometimes she picked, sometimes I picked. The point was to make sure that he was read to, that he heard some of the books that were so easily forgotten now that the rest of the family had moved on to chapter books.
On Tuesdays and Fridays, Daughter A. was to read him Bible stories. She began with the Big Picture Story Bible, moved on to the Jesus Storybook Bible, and then returned. Over the years, she has read both of them to him numerous times. Our goal was saturation, and he’s definitely gotten there.
He doesn’t really need this anymore (he’s eight, plus he can read), but now this is their habit. The girls still read to him, and he still enjoys every minute.
This has paid dividends I didn’t expect. My daughters have become quite confident in reading aloud. It’s so easy to forget to have children read aloud once they are fluent readers, but this is one way eloquence is developed.
They are also confident in reading aloud to him. A couple times when I’ve been sick, they have actually done his school readings with him!
He knows his Bible stories.
And the three of them seem to have a bond they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
I couldn’t have asked for more. In fact, I’d have settled for a lot less.
As all four of my children debated the application of a Redwall story to a narration of Sodom and Gomorrah in Circle Time yesterday morning, I thought about how far they’ve all come. And I thought about how much easier it was to get here than if I’d tried to do it all myself.
Your child is old enough to bless others.
And in blessing others, they end up receiving.
It’s a beautiful thing, and it’s how the family ought to work.
I’m glad someone said this to me all those years ago, and now I’m saying it to you, just in case you need to hear it, too.
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