Children spend 7 hours a day on screens, but what if screen time can be a positive thing?
Blogger Haley Bodine writes about how she cultivated compassion with her son and helped shape his character with Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey.
Read about their Odyssey Adventure Club and start your 14-day free trial!
I recently wrote a blog post with a few tips on how to engage children in acts of compassion. I focused primarily on ways that children can be world changers right where they are, at whatever age they are. What I didn’t discuss was the “behind the scenes” character development involved that shapes the hearts of children into who they are and who they will grow up to be.
Cultivating compassion is a huge part of character development.
This summer, Focus on the Family partnered with World Vision with an exciting project dedicated to equipping families with resources that help shape the character of kids. Adventures In Odyssey is a fantastic, award-winning collection of stories for children produced by Focus On The Family. Each story is approximately 30 minutes long and uses the art of storytelling to convey lasting truths to children.
While there are lots of free resources available to families, there is also a subscription-based club—The Odyssey Adventure Club—available for a nominal fee each month. Subscribers gain access to over 800 audio stories, daily devotionals, activities, articles, and bonus content that all reinforce the truths conveyed in the stories.
I have been familiar with Adventures In Odyssey for over a decade, but I have to confess that up until this summer I had not introduced my six-year-old son to the collection. When I learned of Focus On The Family’s new partnership with World Vision, I decided to give the 14-day free trial of The Odyssey Adventure Club a try.
Here Are 5 Great Things I Loved About My Free-Trial, And Why You Should Try It Too
1. Bonus Content (Including Mini-Documentaries)
My son and I listened to both episodes of “The Boat People,” an Adventure In Odyssey story adapted from Where the Wind Leads by Vinh Chung. The story tells of a Vietnamese family escaping their war-torn nation during the Vietnam War, and of their plight as refugees. One of the bonus features was a mini-documentary featuring the real Vinh Chung and his family.
My son and I have had many age-appropriate conversations this last year about our generation’s current Syrian refugee crisis, so I was eager to listen to a different perspective from a different era. My son and I were able to reopen our conversation and unpack what it means to be a refugee, why we should care for refugees, how World Vision helped refugees during the Vietnam War Era, and how World Vision is helping today.
2. Daily Devotionals
As a parent, I am always looking for ways to connect truth to my son’s heart in ways that stick. Biblical truths and character are best learned when our kids can resonate with why they are important.
Focus On The Family has done an excellent job preparing relevant, age-appropriate devotionals connected to each month’s Adventures In Odyssey featured story. These devotionals prompt great family conversations and pertain to real-life situations that most children face.
3. Reinforcement Activities
Each featured story has great supplementary resources cleverly packaged as the month’s “Adventure Web Quest.” Again, this is a great way to open up dialogue, make the key points of the fictional stories relevant, and reinforce positive character development.
I especially loved “The Gifting Goat” because it gave me an opportunity to talk to my son about real children who live very different lives from him. This portion of the Adventure Web Quest taught me that if we continued with a paid membership, a portion of our payment would be donated to support World Vision. Half of Focus On The Family’s gift to World Vision will purchase animals for needy families around the globe: 10 goats, 10 sheep, 20 ducks and 28 chickens!
4. Real-World Perspective
One of my favorite things about my free trial was the actual content of the stories. As strange as it sounds, I was relieved that the characters in the story discussed praying to Buddha and to ancestors.
It’s easy to get uncomfortable when our children start to ask questions about faith and other world religions. Something in us sounds an alarm and panics a little. But the Gospel stands strong against any of our questions or doubts. As tempting as it is to feel threatened by my son’s hard questions, my true desire is to foster an environment that is safe to ask those questions.
Inevitably my son is going to encounter opposition to our family’s faith values. He is going to need to answer the question, “Why do you believe what you believe?” I want my dining room table to be a safe place to hash out his questions, and I was thankful for the organic opportunity presented by the story to discuss other world religions and the reality of the Gospel.
5. There’s An App!
OK, confession: I didn’t find this until my free trial ended. So to spare you, I’m going to tell you straight up: there’s an app for The Odyssey Adventure Club! I wish I had known this during our family’s 22-hour car ride last month, but alas, all of you tech-savvy parents, I didn’t. Be sure to take advantage of this added convenience!
Our family really enjoyed our experience this last month. I would hands-down recommend that your family give the free trial a shot. And remember to download the mobile app!