How to promote pondering?

Tonight, at the dinner table, “noodle around” and ruminate. Reap the benefits!

A young boy says sarcastically: my day was fine

Does this sound like conversation in your household?

You: How was school today?

Child: Fine.

You: What did you learn?

Child: Nothing.

Sometimes it can feel like pulling teeth!

Try turning your inquiries into a dinner table game.

Open quote mark Tell me two things that really happened today and one thing that didn’t happen, and I’ll try to guess which ones are true!

This suggestion comes from a book by Drs. Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, The Whole Brain Child: 12 Proven Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind. ← (That is the link to the Ann Arbor District Library’s copy of the book.) Now, admittedly this line of questioning probably won’t go over well with older kids — for them try asking for a “true” opinion and a “false” opinion they hold on some newsworthy subject.

Regardless of the discussion topic there is benefit to this inquiring tactic — besides revealing your child’s activities, or learning how they feel about life — kids unwittingly receive practice in pondering.

What is so important about honing reflection skills?

Asking children to dig back into their memory is known by educators as essential to moving learning to long-term storage. Reflection has been described as the “mind’s strongest glue.” [1]

So promote some pondering! Let’s continue to mull over the events of Holy Week. Use the chart below to read and talk about the next portion of our story.

If you’d like to print out this reading plan/discussion guide, click here.
Or, check out the other mini reading plans for our Rotation on the events of Holy Week here. If your kids aren’t clear about the order of the events of Holy Week, start at the beginning.)

Read Talk about or do…
Matthew 26:36-39 What are Jesus’ feelings? If you were facing some sort of crisis, what three friends would you ask to be with you?
Bonus Q: Who were the two sons of Zebedee? Hint: Luke 5:10-11.
Mark 14:32-26 Tell about a time when you knew what was coming up; you knew what you were up against. Did you follow through? What is Jesus asking of God? What does he mean by “the cup?” (He’d like a way to avoid the cross!) What model does this give us as to how we should approach God?
Matthew 26:39-41 Why do you suppose the disciples fell asleep? What is another way to say, “my spirit was willing but my body was weak?” (I knew what the best thing to do was, but…) Name an instance when this happened to you.
Luke 22:41-45 Jesus is being very honest with God. What is something that you’d like to admit to God but are afraid to do so? Luke is the only gospel which includes the angel helping out Jesus and Jesus sweating blood. Do you suppose that Luke being a doctor had anything to do with the latter inclusion? (It has a medical name: Hematidrosis. Research this on the internet.)
Matthew 26:44-47 Do you suppose Jesus felt let down by his disciples? When is a time when someone let you down? Tell about a time when you may have let Jesus down.
Mark 14:43-46 What do you suppose is going through Judas’ mind? Who were these “chief priests” and why were they interested in arresting Jesus? (Review who they are here. Review why they are out to get Jesus by reading one example at Matthew 12:9-14.)
Luke 22:49-51 Why do you suppose Jesus’ followers were so quick to bare their swords? (and also seemingly quick to fall asleep!) What would you have done? How do you suppose the guards felt when they saw Jesus heal the man’s ear? Do you suppose they wondering: are we arresting the right guy?
Matthew 26:47-56 Explore the differences in the way the gospel writers tell this portion of the story — in Mark 14:43-50, and in Luke 22:47-53. The disciples go from sleeping on the job, to wielding swords, to running away. What about this surprises you? How would you have reacted to these events?
How do you value and encourage pondering in your family?


[1] Kate Charner-Laird, Sarah Fiarman, Frederick Won Park, and Sylvia Soderberg, Cultivating Student Reflection: A Step-by-Step Guide to Fostering Critical Thinking in Young Children, Issue 6 (Dorchester, MA: Project for School Innovation, 2003).

Photo credits:
Pouting child, by Sergio Vassio Photography, licensed on Flickr under a Creative Commons License. (Picture was cropped and text added by me.)

The strangest things can happen around your table

What happens around your family dinner table?

a very messy eatera boy eating at a table

  • Food is served (and sometimes eaten).
  • Conversation unfolds.
  • Stories are told.
  • Things get messy.
  • Games are played.
  • Bread is broken.
  • Memories are made.

Here’s a table where I’m sure this happened…

Last Supper, 1896 work by Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret
Jesus and his disciples share the Last Supper

Well, okay. They probably didn’t play any games.
(But don’t that that stop you! See here for suggestions of games to play at the dinner table.)

What happens around your dinner table?
Are questions expressed, discussion encouraged, and disciples of Jesus cultivated?

Why not start today? Use this mini reading plan with discussion questions.

If you’d like to print out this reading plan/discussion guide, click here.
(Check out the other mini reading plans for our Rotation on the events of Holy Week here. If your kids aren’t clear about the order of the events of Holy Week, start at the beginning.)

Read Talk about or do…
Luke 22:7-15 What is your favorite mealtime gathering? What sort of preparations are required? What is served at this meal? Why do you enjoy it?
Why do you suppose Jesus “earnestly” wanted to share this meal with his disciples?
Mark 14:12-16 What is the Festival of Unleavened Bread? What is the Passover lamb? (Hint: look at Exodus 12:1-14.)
How likely do you think it would be for the disciples to find a man carrying a jug of water? (Remember this is back in Jesus’ time when water retrieving was strictly women’s work.) There seems to be a bit of secrecy to this planning. Why do you suppose that was needed? (Remember what sort of danger was Jesus in.)
Describe the details about how you would plan a secret location for a party.
John 13:1-5 Name the worst clean-up task that you can imagine. (Perhaps cleaning up after a sick puppy or washing the kitchen floor after a mishap involving a dozen raw eggs?)
Why do you suppose the disciples feet needed washing? (Hint: think about their footwear and the roads in those days.)
John 13:1-11 Why do you suppose Peter didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet? Would you want your teacher at school to wash your feet? Name someone whom you’d never want to wash your feet. Why not?
What do Peter’s feelings tell us about his relationship to Jesus?
John 13:12-17 How is washing someone’s feet an act of service? What do you suppose Jesus meant by saying that his disciples should wash other people’s feet? Did he mean literally??
Get out a small basin, some soap and a towel. Put some warm water into the basin and wash each others feet. What are you thinking as your feet are bathed?
John 13:14-15 We know what will happen to Jesus. We know how Judas will betray him, and Peter will deny him. Yet Jesus washes both Judas and Peter’s feet! Think about an act of service that you would struggle to do for someone, if you knew they were going to be mean to you in the future.
Name some acts of service we can do for others. Are these hard or easy to do?
Matthew 26:20-25 What reaction do the disciples have when Jesus drops this “bomb?” How would you have reacted?
The Bible doesn’t tell us why Judas snitched on Jesus. Some theorize that he wanted the money (John 12:4-6). Others propose that Judas was hoping that Jesus’ arrest would prompt Jesus to act more like the warrior king that the Jews had been expecting. (Or as one person has said: “Maybe Judas was throwing Jesus into the deep end of the pool, hoping he’d swim.” Quote source Have you ever wished that God would move a little faster in his plans for you? Have you ever betrayed someone’s trust? Can you describe why you did this?
Luke 22:19-20 What elements of a traditional Passover meal did Jesus turn around and give new meaning to? What is Jesus asking his disciples to do? What is he asking us to do? (Hint: reread Luke 22:19.) What are we suppose to remember – the way Jesus shared the bread and cup or what meaning it has? What meaning does it have?
Matthew 26:26-28 Do you suppose the disciples understood what Jesus was saying about his body and his blood? Would you have understood if you’d been there? How would you have felt when Jesus passed around the bread and the cup?
Matt 26:26-29
Mark 14:22-25
Luke 22:19-20
What similarities do you notice between these three accounts of this story? What differences exist? What do you think of Luke’s additional words about why we should repeat this act? (“Do this in memory of me.” When do we hear those words in church? (at Communion!)

Are memories being made around your table?

Photo credits:
At the table, by kate hiscock and a messy eater, by Matt Preston, both licensed on Flickr under a Creative Commons License. (No changes were made.)
Last Supper, an 1896 work by Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret in the Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

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