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The Bible and the Brain

Research shows that reading to children is important for things like brain development, socialization, and literacy—even “soft” skills like empathy. That’s why we encourage reading the Bible to your children until they are old enough to begin to do so on their own.

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Prodigious advances in technology have revolutionized the field of neuroscience, allowing us unprecedented access to information on the brain’s inner workings. The New York Times has declared the next frontier in science as, “inside your brain”![1]

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Knowing how children’s brains process and store information gives us critical insight on how to help them experience and retain spiritual truths and biblical principles that will deepen their relationship with Christ.

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Here’s a snapshot of how the brain receives and stores information:

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The Bible and the Brain | Experience the Story

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Rote memorization helps lodge information in your short-term memory. But if it is not repeated or attached to prior knowledge—such as associating the new information with a catchy song or important memory—it will quickly be flushed from your brain’s short-term storage any time a new and “more important” piece of information is encountered.

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Getting new information into long-term memory takes work. A good strategy is to connect the information to an additional activity:

  • Using a question and answer format
  • Engaging in a discussion
  • Relating topics to real life situations
  • Role playing or actual application

The more ways something is learned, the more memory pathways are built.[2]

When the brain perceives information repeated in multiple ways, there is a priming process that makes encoding of that information more efficient. That is why writing a vocabulary word in a sentence, hearing classmates read their sentences, and then following the direction to use the word in conversation during that day will result in more successful long-term memory storage and retrieval than just memorizing the definition (Koutstaal et al., 1997).

In other words, the more often information is repeated, revisited, and experienced in multiple ways, the more deeply embedded it becomes.

So what does this have to do with us?

Here at OneHope, we are always searching for effective mediums and ways to communicate the truths of God’s Word to children. It’s our job to instill a deep faith in the next generation. We’re not psychologists or neuroscientists, but we do our best to understand how effective learning takes place so we can leverage those principles in our ministry work.

Ultimately, we trust the Holy Spirit to make the profound truth of the Scripture come alive and move children from simply learning basic Christian doctrine to a deeper understanding and heart knowledge for how to live.


[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/31/brain-research-2014_n_6334088.html
[2] http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/107006/chapters/Memory,_Learning,_and_Test-Taking_Success.aspx

BULLYING: 4 STEPS TO HELP TWEENS HANDLE IT

EquipTweenBullying

Recently our team conducted a session for 11-14 year olds and spent a section specifically addressing online bullying. Unfortunately this issue has become even more rampant since the wave of seemingly “consequentless anonymizers” like Snapchat have taken center stage.

In today’s anonymous world youth are encouraged to dissociate themselves with negative behavior and instead cling to their anonymous label that grants them access to the “waves of culture”. Instead of strength of character we see a growing epidemic of mean behavior amongst those that should be brothers and sisters. We’d like to share a few practical steps you can share with your tween to help them in bullying situations.

Step In

Oftentimes adults are somewhat in the dark about how prevalent this issue is in their tween or teen’s world. Step one to combat this is to step in to their world. The easiest way into the world of tweens is by connecting with your child in familiar non-threatening conversations. These conversations can be started with simple questions like “Who is your favorite person at school?” or “Who is the most popular?” Make an effort as these conversations progress to take note of your child’s reactions and responses. Even jot down the names they mention on your phone. It will mean a lot to your child when you are able to follow up and ask how their peers are by name and not just description.

Parents’ reactions to difficult situations will shape the way our kids relate their world to us. Kids often feel that they exist within two or more “worlds” and do their best to maintain a positive atmosphere in all of them. There is the school world, home world, and various game or online worlds that add to this. As a parent you need to be willing to step out into their other worlds. That may mean sitting in on a gaming session, asking for a tour of their Facebook or WhatsApp, or visiting them for lunch at school (if appropriate). Do whatever you need to in order to better understand where they live day to day.

Step Back

Try to always remember the old saying “hurt people hurt people”. It seems simple enough, but it is imperative to remember that the one hurting others is usually trying to cover their own wounds. By jumping into a situation too quickly you can re-victimize the participants and thus get yourself excommunicated from their world quite quickly. Remember to keep your cool in these situations and make a concentrated effort to examine the situation from an unbiased perspective. Lastly, be sure to involve leadership that knows both parties well in the conflict resolution stage.

 

Step Up

Tweens especially are in a time of transition. Amongst their peers many social roles are established simply by who is willing to step up. Encourage your children in leadership roles that compliment their personality. One of the slogans we use with the teens is “Don’t be afraid – be a friend”. This may be a good memory verse to share with your child if they find themselves involved in a bullying situation where they need to step up:

Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Step Over (not on)

Once I saw a video on a nature channel about a mother bear and her cubs. I vividly remember the look in the mother’s eyes and body language when she realized the camera crew was stepping closer to her cubs. She had been grazing behind them comfortably, but seeing the possible danger she moved to step over her cubs and re-situate herself between them and the camera man. If you notice your child is the target of bullies, don’t be afraid to step between them and the bully to bring balance and protection to the situation.

“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

This definition by Albert Einstein of insanity could easily be applied in this arena as well. We cannot continue moving in the same direction and stay in the same patterns but expect things to change. Sit down with your spouse and then with your tween and figure out as a team what steps you all need to take regarding your specific situation. Step one should always be to our knees in prayer as we seek first the Kingdom.


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CourtCourtney Alberson is Generation of Virtue’s lead solutions specialist. Which is a fancy way of saying she handles the team’s many IT needs and spends a lot of time in Photoshop. When she’s not finding solutions to problems, Courtney enjoys communicating God’s truth about love and relationships to teenagers and…drinking coffee.

No Question Is Too Small…

Most parents will be able to hear their kids’ voices in this familiar phrase; “But why Dad? Why Mom?” There are times when we find it endearing and, if we are honest, times when we find it frustrating. Most of you, even as you are reading this will have heard these very words already today. Ah! The life of a parent with young kids.
10270804_10152124694381790_72683563344375937_nMy own children are 3rd and 6th graders and over the last 5 years I have been asked questions about a range of different subjects. From historical European battles to current ISIS events; from Adam’s original sin to the opening of the 7 seals in Revelation. I have had to be ready to give an answer to all my kids’ questions. Of course, these usually come in the middle of a soccer game that’s on television or in the middle of a delicious steak plate. Their questions have impeccable timing.

As they have grown I have noticed that in the hectic schedule we parents often keep, these moments are too easy to pass over with a quick answer or even a quick dismissal of the question. This does not serve our children; instead it can actually stunt their growth in knowledge. I am always careful to be diligent in both the quality and quantity of time spent with my kids, but I noticed this area of answering their questions can quite easily slip through the cracks. I am learning to be more deliberate in these moments.

No question is too small; no question is too silly. It is vitally important that our kids feel comfortable enough to ask us anything. Of course, a household that thrives in good, open, and Godly communication provides a solid base for questions to arise. Just as a home that does not communicate well will not reap the benefits of kids coming to parents with life’s difficult questions.

Allow the questions to flow, do not be scared of them. In entertaining and answering these questions, we are equipping our children with knowledge that they may not get anywhere else. And it protects them from something even more detrimental—erroneous information that they believe to be true from others. A child asking their peers for information is not always the best way to gain the truth that they seek. But make no mistake, if we don’t allow them to ask us questions, they WILL ask their peers.

Take time, be brave, and let the questions come….


davidRev. David Goundry was born in England before moving to the United States. He uses his abilities to teach, mentor and “prepare those who will go.” He enjoys traveling to many countries with the message of Jesus Christ to the children and youth of the world as well as an “ever-present” on foreign medical missions through International Christian Institute. David and his wife Luiza serve together in the music ministry at their church and have two children, Sarah and Samuel.