The psalmist’s admonition to “rejoice and be glad” extends to everyone. How can that concept best be taught to young children? What are age-appropriate teaching tools that center on communicating the love of God and help kids see that praising God is a game changer in life?
Bible Gateway interviewed Jean Thomason (aka Miss PattyCake) (@PattyCakePraise) about her book, Sharing God’s Big Love with Little Lives: A Can-Do Guide for Parents and Caregivers (Worthy Publishing, 2017). [See all the Miss PattyCake resources in the Bible Gateway Store]
Tell a little about Miss PattyCake and how that persona teaches children about the Bible.
Jean Thomason: Miss PattyCake is a brightly costumed character with a program designed to plant biblical truths—broken into musical child-size pieces—into little lives. She teaches Bible verses and stories, praise songs, games, and activities that are biblically based.
Miss PattyCake exists to share God’s BIG LOVE with little lives, and help parents, grandparents, teachers, and caregivers teach God’s Word through music, stories, Scripture, and FUN.
With biblically based resources and live appearances, she assists in the kingdom work of spiritual formation, which is: laying a foundation for salvation and establishing a biblical worldview.
Describe how you have transcribed the Miss PattyCake teaching experience into this colorful and fun book.
Jean Thomason: About three years ago I was singing at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. In the foyer hangs a large banner with these words: “Whoever wants the next generation the most, will get them.” I knew it then…I had to take the time to write what I had learned through experience, research, and Bible study about these early years and the importance of starting EARLY to teach biblical concepts, Scripture, and having FUN doing it.
I don’t think I’m a good writer, but I can talk—so I’d record myself teaching, and then actually write what I said! It needed lots of editing and it took almost two years. Worthy Publishing read it, liked it, and made it better! I’m most proud that they left the color and graphics in the book, since my hope is for busy parents to be intrigued and never bored while reading. When I was a young mommy, I didn’t want another book telling me what more I should do or what I wasn’t doing. That’s depressing. Sharing God’s Big Love with Little Lives, I hope, will be fun to read, make people laugh, and give them enthusiastic confidence as they live with and influence little lives!
Why is it important for parents and caregivers of children to be intentional about teaching the Bible and, as you put it, “practice praising God”?
Jean Thomason: Praise is a game-changer for all of life…so much of Scripture instructs us to “rejoice in always,” “give thanks in everything,” “Praise the Lord!” When I began to practice praising God, it radically changed my life. If you’ll practice praise by yourself as well as with your children, and do it often, it’ll change you. It’ll change the way you deal with your circumstances, and it’ll change the atmosphere in your home, and that will affect all your relationships.
I’ve found many people don’t know what the word PRAISE really means. It’s always a verb, and has many different directives. When parents and caregivers get understanding about how and why we praise God, it can change their life….it changed mine! Then they know better how to teach children, who are already more uninhibited and are excited to give thanks and praise to God.
The Bible says this, “Nursing infants gurgle choruses about you; toddlers shout the songs that drown out enemy talk, and silence atheistic babble.” (Psalm 8:2 MSG).
Working with little children now for 25 years has proven to me they need little encouragement to give God PRAISE—only direction. The promise of God’s Word again and again is this: when we CHOSE to praise God, the benefits are blessings, joy, peace, his presence, guidance, and more! Who doesn’t want that?!
How do you use the word “praise” to organize the book?
Jean Thomason: By using the letters of the word as the acronym PRAISE, this book takes readers on a tour of parenting and teaching young children about God, Jesus, the Holy Sprit, and the Bible.
P — Placed And Privileged to Parent
R — Rare Window of Opportunity
A — All-Access Pass
I — Infancy
S — Seven Ways to Practice Praise
E — Enthusiastic Enjoyment
! — Imperative—Do It!
How should parents and caregivers be sensitive when teaching the Bible and biblical truth to children who’ve encountered abuse, bullying, or other difficulties in their lives?
Jean Thomason: No matter what sadness, sorrow, or pain children have encountered, they ALL need to know about the unconditional and faithful love of God and the good news of the gospel of Jesus. The Bible is clear about the power of God’s words which “are living and active” (Heb. 4:12).
All of us who are alive in this fallen world know that sad and bad things happen to children. This should make us even more determined to teach our own little ones about God who made them and loves them, and about Jesus who went about doing GOOD, and forgave others. We should never, for any reason, NOT teach the Bible to children, because we can trust God’s words to lay a foundation on which salvation and sanctification can be built.
2 Tim. 3:15 says “from infancy you have known the Scriptures which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
How do you want this book to make a change in its readers?
Jean Thomason: I hope and pray this book will leave readers saying, “I can do this!” God helping us all, we can confidently say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV). I hope this book will convince readers that God has put a child or children in their lives on purpose. And that he’s given us everything we need to speak into these little lives as his ambassador, representing his kingdom. It’s no mistake you’re a parent, grandparent, teacher, or caregiver of a little child. It’s a great responsibility, a privilege, and it can be a pleasure!
What’s a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
Jean Thomason: Psalm 40:1-3
“I put all my hope in the LORD.
He leaned down to me;
he listened to my cry for help.
He lifted me out of the pit of death,
out of the mud and filth,
and set my feet on solid rock.
He steadied my legs.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise for our God.
Many people will learn of this and be amazed;
they will trust the LORD.”
This has been my personal life verse since I became a follower of Jesus! The word “praise” here is the Hebrew word, tehillah, which means to sing with the spirit; the singing of Hallelujahs! This word changed the direction of my life, pointed me to become a worship singer, and set the course for my life work. Also, it’s my story—what God has done for me and through me; how he’s helped me and used me. I’m the one who is AMAZED!
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?
Jean Thomason: I’m so grateful for the Bible Gateway resource! I would have been lost without it while writing this book. There’s much Scripture reference all through my book, and I was constantly looking for the correct Bible translation, cross reference, etc., so I found it to be invaluable!
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Jean Thomason: We must take seriously the task of teaching our children about God. The culture will not do it for us. The church is helpful, but the task is ours.
“If we don’t teach our children who God is, someone else will teach them everything that he isn’t.” (Darlene Schacht)
“The research is very clear: if Jesus is not already part of their lives by the time they leave junior high school, the chances of them accepting him as their Lord and Savior [are] very slim (6%, to be exact). With children, it’s just the opposite. The greatest evangelical window currently available is among young children.” (George Barna)
Bio: Jean Thomason is the live embodiment of the joyful children’s character, “Miss PattyCake.” The music and character of Miss PattyCake allow Jean to plant biblical truths, broken into musical toddler-size pieces, while helping parents lay a spiritual foundation. Jean has more than 30 years of experience as a musical performer, worship leader, and conference speaker (Miss PattyCake TV). Her live family concerts are performed around God’s great big world. Jean and her husband, Chris, live in Franklin, Tennessee.
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