Today I’m interviewing Jenni Shaw on our Faithful Everyday Mom series, and she is going to be sharing easy and practical ways to teach your kids foundational truths of the Bible, this summer, right at home! This has been one of the most helpful interviews I have have done to date…so let’s dive in!
First, let’s get to know Jenni…
Jenni, was my oldest son’s kindergarten teacher at our church’s preschool in Georgia, and she was a huge instrument in helping us lay basic Biblical foundations in Jake’s life early on…To that I am forever grateful!
Jenni lives in North Georgia with her family, husband, Matt, of 12.5 years, and their two children: Berkeley (10) and Brady (9). She has been a teacher for 21 years, and still currently teaches kindergarten. Jenni pours the love of Jesus into her students, and I’ve never met anyone that knows as many songs as she does to teach kids about Jesus!
If you are reading right now, and the Lord brings a mom to your mind that you consider a faithful everyday mom like Jenni, would you please leave a comment or CONTACT ME, with that information so I can see about bringing her own the podcast for an interview?
Now, let’s get started with some questions for Jenni:
1. How do you have your quiet time as a mom?
Jenni: Well, this is very important to me…I feel like if my cup is not full, I can’t pour out to my kids and my family and the kids at school. So I just honestly, have tried to squeeze it in anywhere I can. This year I’m very blessed to have about 45 minutes between when I drop my kids off to school and when I have to go into work. A lot of days, I do my quiet time in my car in the parking lot before I go in to work. I keep my Bible with me or use my Bible app, and it’s really become a sweet time without distractions. Then on the weekends, I try to get up a little earlier than everybody else and just have that quiet time with God.
Mallory: I don’t think I have had a mom share her car as her main quiet time spot, but I love that you have been creative and intentional with that time that the Lord has given you!
2. Next question, because I always love the funny responses! What makes you an everyday mom?
Jenni: Oh, goodness! Well, I feel like I’m a professional juggler sometimes, because I’m juggling volleyball and baseball practices and choir and church, then trying to have dinner around the table. But most of all, I just make sure I NEVER run out of dry shampoo!
Mallory: Yes, dry shampoo is a must!
So as I was sharing earlier, how Jenni really helped us lay a spiritual foundation for my oldest, Jake when he was 5 years old…She does this through something I would call apologetic training. But I can remember walking into Jenni’s classroom one day with Jake’s class in the middle of circle time, and she had the kids all quoting scriptures and singing songs and doing something called catechisms, which is a question and answer type way of teaching kids apologetics and the basics of the Bible.
Catechisms are something that both the Catholic and the Protestant church have used, but it’s essentially just biblical foundational truths of the Bible. When I heard Jenni teaching these to her kindergartners, I was blown away! She would ask a foundational question about who made the world or where did God come from, and the kids would answer her question and then quote scripture to support it.
So, when I was thinking about teaching biblical truths in an uncomplicated way, I thought, “I’ve got to interview Jenni Shaw!”
3. Jenni, can you share with us more about what you used these catechisms for and how they work with the kids that you teach?
Jenni: Absolutely. So a sweet friend had passed these down to me and it was a very, like you said, uncomplicated way to answer some of these questions that kids have Biblically. It’s very tricky sometimes as a parent, teacher or anyone who has influence over kids, to answer their questions about God. This question and answer style, just makes it simple! Question number one I ask is, “Who made you?” and the answer is, “God made me.” All the answers are derived straight from scripture with scripture references. Another one is: “What else did God make?” Answer, “God made all things.”
I find that when you keep it simple with kids, they often, especially earlier childhood, don’t need a lot of explanation right away. When you can give them answers based on the Bible, it makes it very easy for them to remember. I do these in circle time to help the kids carry a firm foundation with them throughout life, so they have answers to a lot of the things that will recall when their faith is questioned.
A lot of times, by the end of the school year, these kids know the answers and verse for 25 faith foundational questions in my classroom. So I use them at school, but I also use them with my own kids. So I can say to my kids and my students, if somebody tries to tell you that God didn’t make you, then you can stand assured and say, “Yes, God made me and he made me to glorify Him!” It really touches my heart to see these kids not just learn these truths, but really hold firm to them!
Mallory: Yes I can testify to this through Jake’s life. He came to know Jesus at an early age, from the things that we were doing with him at home, but also through the instrumental things that I saw him learn in your class. So I really thank you for that, Jenni! Proving that, kids are never “too young” to start learning about Jesus!
And if you’re looking for something, mom that’s reading, to teach your kids similarly in an uncomplicated way about the Bible, I have a free resource for you to download today on out HOMEPAGE that I’m calling: Apologetic Training for Kids. This is a free download that will come straight to your inbox, that is a great resource to do with your kids this summer. There are 12 question and answer truths to focus on, with Scriptures and songs for each truth.
4. Jenni, next question: You are a big believer in teaching kids the Bible through songs as well, as I shared in your bio. You know SO MANY songs, that I bet you can’t even count how many you know! So, can you give us some song examples from some of your favorite albums that moms could download or easily find on Spotify or Apple Music or wherever they get their music?
Jenni: For sure! I just love music in general. I always have! I feel like everyone remembers songs from their childhood. It just helps you retain information and teaching with music, I feel like the scriptures stick better. Sometimes I just make up songs, using scripture in that moment to a popular nursery rhyme tune. Or sometimes I will go on Apple music and type in a scripture and there are so many resources available.
Some of my favorites are from Seeds Family Worship. We use the song: Isaiah “41:10, Do Not Fear.” I use this song a lot in the classroom and with my kids. The song just quotes Scripture, “Do not fear for God is with you. Do not be dismayed for I’m your God.” It’s a great reminder tot kids that when we are anxious or fearful, that God will be there to strengthen and help us.
I also love some of the songs from Lifeway Kids Worship that we’ve experienced through VBS, like the song, Game On, based on 2 Peter 1:3. There’s the group called The Risers and they put Bible verses to music also, that are very upbeat and catchy. There’s one for John 3:16, and we use that a lot in class too.
Uncle Charlie (he’s a musician) and sings a Fruit of the Spirit song that’s derived from Galatians 5, and the kids have so much fun wit this one! It’s silly…saying things like, “The fruit of the spirit’s not a coconut,” then goes on to tell the actual fruit of the spirit. The kids just have a lot of fun with it, but they also remember them and can apply those things later. Another one that I have done with my personal children, is from the group, JumpStart3, on the books of the Bible. It’s a fun hip-hop version for kids to learn all 66 books of the Bible. And then of course, I really love the children’s albums by Ellie Holcomb. They speak such sweet truths about creation and God’s love.
So those are just some of my favorite ones that stood out to me. But I really love it how you can go on YouTube or Apple Music and sometimes just type in a Bible verse, and there’s a lot of resources on there that parents can play, and your kids are listening to God’s Word through song, and they don’t even know it sometimes!
Mallory: Well I have learned something NEW! I didn’t know that you could just type in John 3:16 and songs would come up, so that’s a really great thing to know! And thanks for sharing all those different artists with us! (Update: since this interview, my two boys have learned ALL the books of the Bible through that song by Jumpstart 3!)
5. Jenni, knowing that you use catechisms and songs to teach your students, with your own kids who are both in upper elementary school at ages 9 & 10, share some of the basic truths that you’ve taught them when things try to question their faith. So, if you’ve got toddlers, moms, why you should start NOW, and if you’ve got upper elementary aged kids or middle schoolers, how you can refer to these basic biblical truths. Can you share with us some real life stories of how you’ve done this with Brady and Berkeley?
Jenni: Yeah. Like I said, I’m a believer with kids of all ages keeping it simple! We don’t have to overcomplicate it. They understand. So my son is 9 and my daughter is 10. They’re in similar seasons of life, but of course, because one’s a boy and one’s a girl, sometimes their insecurities are different. We reference a lot back to those basics when they are insecure. There’s a lot of comparison that goes on with both boys and girls. I reference back to 2 Timothy 1:7 a lot, about how God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind, that goes both with milestone testing or standing strong in who God made them to be, when sometimes the world’s really confusing and mean! Kids can be that way, and especially the way the world is right now, it’s very confusing and kids are really trying to figure out who they are and where they fit. Being a tween is really hard. I feel like a lot of times it’s similar to being a toddler because you’re really just trying to find your way..
If Berkeley, my daughter, comes home and she’s got an insecurity with her hair or she’s taller than a lot of the other girls or things like that, we reference it right back to what does God say is true? Well, who made you? God made you. And why did he make you? He made you for glory, not for the approval of others, but so that we can honor Him by how we live, and we can share His love with others. And it’s really neat how sometimes that just decompresses her. It’s very comforting because God is stable. He does not change.
With Brady, my son, sometimes he tends to be anxious because he always wants to do the right thing. He’s a pleaser. when he’s got a test coming up, he wants to make sure he knows ALL the answers. So we’ll reference back, “God did not make a mistake when he made you the way He made you, and He is going to use the way He made you for his glory, for something so amazing! And we may not know what that is yet, but we have to still stand true in that and walk firm for His glory.”
School-aged kids are just exposed to a lot, period! And I’ve always told my kids, when you hear something, if it makes you feel funny or if something just doesn’t sit right with you, or these aren’t words that you’ve typically heard, make sure you still come home and talk about it and tell the truth. We talk about how God knows all things…Nothing can be hidden from Him. So if you hear something you feel like you need to hide from God or hide from your parents, it’s most likely sin or an attempt from the enemy to distract you. So it’s really helped my kids to go back to those basics, and knowing that God made them for a specific purpose, for His glory! This will really ground your kids and keep honest conversations flowing, where they feel like they can open about what’s going on in their life because they know that God is their firm foundation!
Mallory: Amen! I agree 100%!
A trend that I saw running through everything that you were sharing, Jenni, is that you have a couple of staple verses and truths that you go over with Berkeley and Brady when they’re dealing with things, like being fearful or like they’re not enough or self-conscious. And I think that’s so great and an uncomplicated way to keep truth in front of them!
So moms, let a takeaway be, that you don’t have to know EVERYTHING, but having open communication and a few core scriptures and songs in your back pocket are KEY!
6. Last question today…
Jenni, the latest Christian research shows that a child’s morality and worldview, like you were speaking about before with your kids, is actually decided around the age of nine, which is super early! We both have a nine year olds, so that’s a little scary! That also means that we can’t start too soon to teach our kids about Jesus! Waiting until they are “old enough” in middle school or upper elementary age, is too late, because they’re already making those decisions about the way that they view life by then.
Knowing that, it’s easy to get overwhelmed as a mom. I mean, I feel that pressure when I read that. I know moms listening probably do too. So what words of encouragement or maybe tips would you have for the mom that’s listening right now? She wants to do some of these things like we’re talking about…she wants to know more songs, learn and teach more apologetic foundational truths, but she’s just not really quite sure how to get started. Whatever age her kids may be, how would you encourage her?
Jenni: I would definitely say, kids get excited about what their parents are excited about. We don’t have to know everything, but like you said, knowing a few things well can be helpful. Kids love to hear things on repeat anyway, so if we know two or three Bible verses and we feel like we’re repeating those all the time, awesome! Every little bit helps. I always say start young anyway. Even if you feel like they’re too young or if you feel like, “Oh my goodness, my child is 12. It’s too late.” It’s never too late. Be consistent. Kids love routine. They just don’t always know how to express that they love that routine, but they do. We always make sure our kids are physically fed. So I feel like it’s important that we also make sure that our kids are nourished spiritually.
Start with the music. Kids love music! Play music in the car…they’re going to be singing scripture and they don’t even know it yet! Play your own worship music while you’re doing the dishes, and let them hear it.
I always say the Holy Spirit is our helper, so he can be our confidence when we aren’t sure even what to do. There’s power in asking God for help. He will help us!
Start with one Biblical truth a week, from the FREE APOLOGETICS DOWNLOAD Mallory is offering today. We get to be the first experience with Jesus that our kids have, and it’s such a privilege and so important to show that as adults, we are not perfect. We need Jesus too. Showing forgiveness as adults to model to our children that we serve a God who’s perfect, but we are not.
Don’t be afraid if they ask you questions and you don’t know the answer. You could even simply respond to them and say, “You know what? Let’s find out together. Let’s get our Bibles. Let’s see what God says.”
None of us have it together, but that’s why we have Jesus and going on that journey with our kids, is what it’s all about! And it becomes really fun. I know with my kids, when we sit down sometimes and do a Bible study, they’ll ask me questions and I don’t know, and it’s fun for them. It’s like when you play a board game with them. Bible study can be fun because you’re doing it together. They just love that time with you!
Mallory: I love that answer–thank you for encouraging us today and giving such helpful advice!!
Moms, remember to keep up the good work at pointing your kids to Jesus!