Worship ... with a toddler?!
by Aries & Edna Yuwono, parents to Isaac (3) and Isaiah (10 months)
The Yuwono family has a deep love for worship and wanted to integrate it into their family life. At first, it seemed a bit daunting with an infant and toddler, but after they adapted some of their ideas, worship time became something everyone enjoyed. Read their short story to learn some great family worship ideas, how they adapted their worship times, as well as their ideas for ways to incorporate mission and community in their worship.
We both love musical worship so much. For me (Aries), it's the way to have an intimate connection with God. We try to have family worship time once a week with our guitars. We did it pretty regularly before we had kids, but after kids it became more challenging. It's less challenging with infants, they just love the guitar sounds, the melodies, and the parents singing voices. I usually play worship songs while Isaiah has his tummy time session. It keeps him motivated to look up. He is so excited from the time we get our guitars and always make noises when we sing. We believe he is singing and worshiping too! It gets more challenging with toddlers. At first, Isaac just wanted to touch my guitar, played with my pick, or asked me to stop singing. I felt that worship time with a toddler wouldn't work.
Then, we adapted some of our ideas and found some great ones that did work:
Keep doing the worship time until he gets used to it
Ask him his favorite song so we can play and sing it along. It might be "The Wheels on the Bus" at first, it's not a worship song, but it's fine. We try to include him in the activity.
At first we bought him a toy guitar, but we didn't like it because the sounds are not natural. So we entrusted him with our ukulele (small guitar). We reminded him to take great care of it by being gentle and not banging it. Whenever I play with my guitar, he will play with his ukulele. His playing will be out of tune and out of rhythm, that's fine.
I bought him a set of kid's guitar picks with fun prints on them so he doesn't ask for my guitar pick when we worship. Now he knows when we are doing worship time, he will use his small guitar and his own guitar pick.
He likes upbeat songs, so we introduced him to some upbeat worship songs. His favorite worship songs now are "Happy Day" by Tim Hughes and "Take it All" by Hillsong United. He loves the chorus as he will sing along and dance. We keep including his favorite songs during our worship time.
Now Isaac is looking forward to worship time, sometimes he will pick his guitar himself and sing with his own words. We believe that it's the words from the Spirit =)
We keep imagining future ideas to incorporate worship with our kids:
Family worship time during Christmas when our family comes to visit (we did it last year)
Christmas neighborhood outreach. We plan to open and to decorate our garage, then we play Christmas songs. Neighbors can come to enjoy the singing and we can bake gingerbread cookies for the neighborhood kids to decorate. We will probably involve family and friends for this outreach.
Easter neighborhood outreach. Same as above but with Easter eggs decoration
Teach Isaac at least one real chord for the year
Introduce more worship songs to the kids