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Gathering the whole family for a family bible study time can sometimes be difficult to manage with varying schedules, needs, and even personalities. But we know how important study and Scripture memory are to raising kingdom builders.
Add in a family member with special needs, and extra challenges arise.
Why Include Children with Special Needs in Family Bible Study
Depending on the particular needs, it can feel easier to not really include children with extra challenges, particularly when they’re younger. I have to motivate myself to crank up my energy level to do everything my son needs to be involved, but it’s so worth it.
“Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6
Including all children of all abilities in family bible study helps in various ways.
- Anything positive where we include children with special needs helps boost confidence in their own social and communication skills and worth.
- The more they (or any of us, really) hear God’s Word, the deeper those truths permeate.
- Inclusion in family activities with people of varied ages exposes kids to new concepts and social strategies.
(I discuss more details about involving children with speech delays in this post here.)
Four Tips on Including Kids with Special Needs in Family Bible Time
- Give (all) of your children opportunities to participate. My son can’t talk, but he uses sign language for expressive communication. We rephrase questions (as we can) to help him have the opportunity to answer. (This is challenging sometimes!)
- Help them memorize Scripture. It might be harder. It might take longer. But, try it anyway, and pray for lasting benefits. We currently work on memorizing just one (brief) verse a month, which my son learns how to sign back to me. It’s so much fun!
- Surround your kids with Scripture expressed in various mediums. My kids (both typical-developing and with special needs) love Seeds Family Worship songs (affiliate link). You can also create your own songs. Songs help stick truths in our hearts, help kids of all abilities express feelings, and increase positive attitudes (especially when we listen to praise music!).
- Allow some choice. We have several children’s bibles around the house. At bedtime, we allow our son (with special needs) to choose which he wants to read from. We particularly like the Jesus Storybook Bible, The Beginner’s Bible, The Beginning Reader’s Bible, and the NIrV Study Bible (affiliate links). Allowing him to choose his resource helps him maintain focus.
If You Don’t Have a Special Needs Child
Even if you don’t have a special needs child in your family, you might know someone in your church or neighborhood who has special needs. You can help, too! “Special needs” is such a broad umbrella term, so try to get to know the child for his or her unique challenges and abilities. All special needs kids have something amazing about them, and many become passionate about learning something (or everything!). Ask the parent how you can specifically help that unique child and look for opportunities to encourage and share God’s love! (And, from just one special needs parent, thank you for any time you include our children!)
- Check out the team site Not Alone for encouragement and tips from special needs parents to special needs families.
- I share special needs tips on my blog for family time, family fitness, and preschool activities.
- Sandra Peoples writes specifically on parenting a child on the autism spectrum.
If you have a child with special needs, how do you include him or her in your family Bible time? If you don’t have a special needs child, what ideas have you seen put in practice?
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