This year, the CEO and I decided to change our Advent approach. We wanted to follow the traditional formula of using Advent to prepare for the coming of the Saviour, not as an infant but as a King. We wanted to put the focus more on preparing our hearts for Christ when He returns. We used a couple of resources to help us with this.
Celebrating the Church Year With Young Children
The Advent Jesse Tree: Devotions for Children and Adults to Prepare for the Coming of the Christ Child at Christmas
Based on the recommendations in the Celebrating the Church Year book, but then also trying to follow a more traditional Advent schedule (such as described here), we created a schedule for the Advent and Christmas season. Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, and then the 12 days of Christmas each had a separate scripture reading, hymn, thought to ponder, ornament for the tree, and art. We also listened to Part I of Handel’s Messiah.
We may rearrange the hymns and art next time around, but overall this worked well for our children, ages 1, 3, and 5. Each night we lit the candle(s), read the scripture, talked about the thought, and sang our hymn. Each week we put up the appropriate ornament, and displayed the new art selection. After the candle lighting each night, the children took turns using the candle snuffer to put out the candles (with our help, of course). At supper we listened to the Messiah, and the children are now spontaneously singing some of the pieces at other times.
With the oldest, almost 6, we used the assigned text in the Jesse Tree book referenced above during her Bible time each day. We did not use the daily Jesse Tree ornaments because last year that was too much for the middle child, and I think it would still be too much for her this year too. We wanted to keep our focus very narrow this year, and that seems to have been effective. We did read the devotional from the Jesse Tree book to the kids each night before bed.
We’re still fine-tuning this, but so far this has been a reverent Advent season.