Are you fed up with the amount of screen time your child engages with? Are they constantly on Netflix? Have you ever stopped to think about the power in some of this screen time as a powerful teaching tool? Children rarely appreciate being lectured in life lessons. But they are far more likely to absorb and retain a lesson when it comes packaged in a fun way. So movies can be a great platform for them to engage with fun story lines and awesome characters as well as learning powerful life lessons as well. However just watching a movie is only the first step. Here are some ideas to go deeper.
After the movie, ask some self-discovery questions to bring out the life lesson. “What could have happened if ….hadn’t showed compassion to ….?” “Why was it so important that…. challenged…. about their attitude?” “What did you think about the way….acted towards her friend?” Using self-discovery questions makes the learning more meaningful as they work out the application themselves and retain it better than being on the end of a parent talking at them.
Stop the movie at pivotal points [you may need to prep your child that you will do this or it may not go down too well!] and ask them to describe what’s happening and why. Ask them what they would do if they were in that situation.
With younger children play a game with the movie where they have to count how many times they see the character show love/compassion/forgiveness etc. You could even make an activity out of it using coloured paper with stickers and get them to add a sticker to their paper to create a picture every time they see the quality on display.
Here are some movies that naturally lend themselves to learning life lessons. If you start to watch movies thinking about how you can use them for life lessons, you will see so much that you can use in many movies.
- Happy Feet: It is ok to stand out. It can be hard for kids when they can’t do something quite like the other kids can – but this movie teaches that it’s OK to stand out and not to bully others, because we all have something wonderful to offer.
- Nanny McPhee: Respecting our elders is important. Kids think it’s funny watching the youngsters try to pull one over on their nannies, but then they realise that respecting their elders actually turns out a lot better.
- Zootopia: Even if you fall, you can get up again. Try Everything, the theme song sums up the message. It relays the message that even when you fall, you’ve got to get up and try again.
- Moana: Perseverance, hard work, and determination. The characters Maui and Moana demonstrated a great deal of each.
- Frozen: Dream big and chase your dreams. It teaches to never give up because others say your dream is too big.
- How to Train a Dragon: Empathy. The character Hiccup befriends instead of killing a dragon as he begins to understand him.
If you think about it, this is exactly what Jesus did when He was teaching his followers God truths. He illustrated them in stories or parables and then He asked questions about what they had just heard. Check out the parables of Jesus in the New Testament on this website which lists them all and where to find them https://www.jesusfilm.org/blog-and-stories/parables-of-jesus.html.
Or watch Luke the movie on youtube which contains 24 parables of Jesus in it’s telling https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7qfVQj42r4
Happy movie watching with your family!