family mother father and children watching projector, TV, movies with popcorn in evening at home
family mother father and children watching projector, TV, movies with popcorn in the evening at home

Here’s How to Use Precious Family Time, Wisely

Published at Evolution News

Right now, you may have more opportunities to interact with your children than you are accustomed to. I encourage you to use this time to educate them about intelligent design.

For elementary school children (and up!), consider the Illustra Media nature films, including Flight, Metamorphosis, and Living Waters. As noted here already, during this time of social distancing Illustra is offering free streaming of their films. Then there is the Privileged Species collection with biologist Michael Denton. Join your children in wonder at the intricacies of the animal and plant life, pointing to design in nature. And don’t miss the book Yellow and Pink, by William Steig (of Shrek! fame), or if you come from a Christian background as I do, Melissa Cain Travis’s How Do We Know God Created Life?

If you have kids in middle school, I’d recommend working through our high school curriculum, Discovering Intelligent Designtogether. The online companion is free. In many states, education about evolution begins in middle school. While your students may not be ready to delve deeply into the arguments for and against Darwinian evolution by themselves, a caring discussion of intellectually stimulating materials is perfect. In this period of transition, you can help your child to see the important issues in life more clearly. 

Taking Intellectual Ownership

I’d encourage high school students to take ownership of these issues for themselves. Whether it be completing the online course Discovering Intelligent Design, reading Explore Evolution, or watching the TrueU or Science Uprising series, high school students can lay a solid foundation for understanding science, worldview, and how the two interface. These students should be able to demonstrate a knowledge of abiogenesis and biological evolution and analyze the relevant topics from a scientific perspective. At this stage, parents engage best by providing materials, asking probing questions to check for understanding, and encouraging exploration. 

Or maybe your college student is home. Without extracurricular activities, he or she has a little more free time than usual. I’d encourage you to tell your student about what you’ve been reading by intelligent design proponents. Show them where they can find materials about evolution and intelligent design. If you have a book or DVD collection, make that available — if not, show your student where online resources can be found. Be prepared to engage in book club-like discussion. Young adults may question your assumptions or offer their own analysis. You may find yourself needing to research and read more to further the conversation. At this age, students may display a keen interest in one particular facet of design — whether it be astronomy, biology, chemistry, culture and ethics, or history. Resources I’d recommend for college students include the online companion to The Design of Life, videos from the recent Science & Faith conferences in Dallas (2019 and 2020), Michael Behe’s online course, and the full range of books by Discovery Institute Fellows. 

Children Do Care

And if you have children of various ages, what about that classic, Friday night movie-and-pizza? I mentioned the Illustra Media films earlier — these are wonderful for any age. The IDEA Center has discussion questions for The Privileged Planet and Flight. 

Despite their sometimes nonchalant attitudes as they try to act cool, children do care what their parents think. They appreciate it when parents lovingly take time to explain important lessons and to encourage questioning.

This social distancing period may be the opposite of what you and your family want, but using the time and opportunities now could bear fruit for years to come. 

Sarah Chaffee

Now a teacher, Sarah Chaffee served as Program Officer in Education and Public Policy at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. She earned her B.A. in Government. During college she interned at Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler’s office and for Prison Fellowship Ministries. Before coming to Discovery, she worked for a private land trust with holdings in the Southwest.