What resources are out there to help your child in praying to Hashem? Find out from a mother who homeschools all her children.
The most important resource of all is the parent(s). The mother spends most of her time with her young children. Every morning, before I go down to have breakfast, I do my morning ritual – say “Modeh Ani” (thanking Hashem for returning my soul to my body, and giving me another chance at life), wash both my hands the Jewish way (negel vassar) with a washing cup, use the bathroom, wash my hands again to prepare for praying formally, and then pray in my official prayer spot.
My young children, especially the baby, is with me the whole time doing this from birth. By the time they can speak, they say the “Shema” along with me. The baby sits with me or stays in the same room with me when I daven. She/he knows when it is time for me to get up from sitting to say certain prayers and when to sit back down again. It is such an effective “Training” method for children to learn to pray, by watching, listening and observing.
One of my favorite prayer books for children is Artscroll’s Children’s Siddur -a very colorful, brightly decorated, and attractive resource for young children. Until I obtained another training siddur, even my seven year old enjoyed using it.
Recently, we acquired a training siddur for my seven year old. He would have used the adult siddurs that we have, except that they are in overly-used condition with pages tearing out of the siddur due to daily use. We found a perfect training siddur, again from Artscroll. IT is called “Siddur Chinuch Chaim Shlomo” and is available in either Ashkenazi or Sefardi.
What I like about this siddur is that most of the major prayers are in big bold print. I must admit that due to my deteriorating eye sight, I find davening parts of prayers from this siddur to be less straining on my eyes. Another thing I like is that most of this siddur is in Hebrew, especially the table of contents, and headers. This requires one to find the appropriate sections by reading the Hebrew titles without vowels, and is a good exercise for practising one’s Hebrew skills.
The most important prayer to train children in is The Amidah or The Shemoneh Esrey (The 18 Benedictions), as this prayer is likened to requesting an audience with tHe King of Kings and requesting for the needs of the Jewish people. Most of the blessings in this prayer are requests for the entire nation and not for one’s individual, although individual inserts are also available in various parts of the prayer. One should feel that he/she is stepping into the chamber of the King of Kings in awe of being afforded this opportunity, as well as being useful in playing an important role as a messenger of the Jewish people requesting for the global needs of the Klal spread all throughout the globe. It is a transcendance of time and space, once we take the three steps forward to meet our King in spiritual prayer. THis is one way of explaining the significance of this prayer to our children.