Four Quick Reminders About Teaching Children The Bible

My arms are filled with laundry as I trudged up the stairs, turning the corner to put the clothes away.  Why is it that the laundry is never done? I think to myself.  But my steps slow down as I near the girls' room - one of them is singing in there.  I turn my hear to listen, and recognize one of the lines (amidst some other made-up words).  To God be the Glory, great things He has done!  The words drift out of the bedroom, and I feel a laugh bubbling up in my chest.

One of my greatest joys right now as a mom is to randomly catch one of my children singing a line to hymn.  Or to hear an echo of a catechism question or Bible verse we've been working on as they chatter to other people.  It doesn't happen all the time, but every couple months I catch one of them repeating something that we've been working on, and it makes my heart so happy.

This year one of my focuses with the kids has been developing a morning time routine.  Not only for our homeschooling, but also as a dedicated time each day to pour eternal truths into my kids.  We usually sing a hymn, work on memorizing catechism questions and Bible verses, and read from our Bible, and perhaps one other book.  

I haven't even been as consistent with this as I would like, but somehow things are still soaking through.  It's moments like the one above that remind me why I need to be consistent, why this is important.  I want these truths hidden in their hearts.

This week I have been thinking over a few things that I am trying to remember as I teach my children about Jesus, since we just got a new resource that I am excited to add to our morning Bible time routine (see the end of this post!).  I thought I'd share a few of my little Bible-time "notes to self" here.

Note To Self #1 - Don't refer to the Bible as a "storybook".  To be honest, I'm still working on this one, but I am really trying to not talk about reading a "Bible story" to my kids.  Every other time I tell the kids we are going to read a "story" from a picture book, I'm reading them something that is not true.  I don't want my kids to get the idea that the Bible is just full of nice "stories".  I want them to know it is history!  

So we don't read "Bible stories", we read the "biblical account" of history.  We don't talk about "Bible characters", we talk about "biblical figures".  It's a small shift, but I want my kids to know that this isn't a bunch of fiction - these are accounts of people that really lived, and things God really did!

Note To Self #2 - Memory work matters.  I need this reminder sometimes because when we are having a busy week, our Bible memory work is one of the first things to drop off - but it shouldn't be. I know from firsthand experience that the best way to truly know God's word is to embed it into your mind from a young age.  When I was a kid, we memorized around a hundred verses each year, trying to earn our way to summer camp as part of a program at our church.  Now when I'm facing a tricky situation or doing something wrong or hearing something from a speaker that's just a bit off, the Holy Spirit brings to mind one of the verses I learned as a child.  I may not always remember the reference, but the words are there, hidden in my heart.  I want that for my kids too, for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).  And the only way to get God's word hidden in their hearts is consistency (and maybe a healthy dose of bribery motivation).

Note To Self #3 - Kids can understand theology.   And probably a lot more than we typically give them credit for.  One of my current pet peeves is when Bible lessons are dumbed down for little ones.  Instead of giving them the real meat of God's word, I think we too often give them a lick and then take the meal away!  

I think I first started to realize this when one of my children asked me why we still sin if Jesus takes our sins away.  Instead of giving a light answer, I had to really dive into our sin nature and justification and sanctification - how Jesus paid for our sins and gives us His righteousness, so we are justified before God when we trust in Him, but we still struggle with sin as God continues to sanctify us while we are on the earth.  Obviously I had to define these words, but I was shocked at how much my little five year old understood!  We underestimate our kids too often.

Note To Self #4 - It's okay to make religion fun for kids.  Lest you think it's all serious doctrinal discussions around here, I have to point this out (and remind myself of this too)!  

I don't take many points from Dennis Prager on religion, since he is not a believer in Christ, but this last Christmas I watched one of his videos where he talked about why it's good to make religion fun for kids.  What he said made so much sense to me.  It gave me some peace of mind as I give my kids the presents, make the Bible-themed snacks (two [swedish] fish and five loaves [crackers], anyone?), play the games, sing the silly songs along with the great ones!  I want to make Bible time fun, so they look back on it with fondness.  

God willing, someday each of my kids will grow to the point where these things I am trying to teach them become personally meaningful and life-changing, as the Holy Spirit convicts them and they truly realize their need for Christ and turn to Him in repentance and faith. I pray for that and it's the reason why I am teaching them in the first place.  But for these little years, they really still need it to be fun too.  It's serious work, teaching our kids about Jesus, but there is no reason we can't laugh while we do it - it may even help it to stick better!

One of the things I do to keep Bible time fun for all of us is to look for new resources periodically to refresh out routine.  We have the Bible we like to use, and the hymn book we sing from, and I am trying to rotate some other resources in and out.  So I was so excited to be able to be on the launch team for these wonderful "Big Words Of The Bible" cards from Tiny Theologians!

These cards each represent and important Greek or Hebrew word that it would be helpful for kids (or you!) to know.  I knew some of these, but some of them are new to me as well!  I am going to add these to our Bible time rotation - we will discuss one each day until we get through them all, and then work on memorizing them.  I am so excited to have a colorful fun resource that also teaches Greek and Hebrew vocabulary words that will be so helpful for my kids (and me) to learn!

The cards are launching on Friday!  
I'll be reminding you on Instagram if you are interested in snagging a set, or you can hop over and follow Tiny Theologians to stay updated and see all their resources (I'm eyeing the ABC Attributes Of God cards and the Fathers Of The Faith cards too)!

Note: I am on the launch team for the Big Words Of The Bible cards and received a set for free from Tiny Theologians!
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Natalie@She Builds Her Home said...

I like the sounds of your Bible time! I have been considering doing something more simple like this for next school year. I don't want Bible to just be a school subject, you know? But rather, something our family deeply values and invests time in to, not just another checklist on our daily schedule. I would also like to start having deeper conversations with my kids as we discuss the Bible (already having some great ones, and like you said, they can understand so much more than we give them credit for!) instead of just going through a Bible worksheet or something like we do now (which definitely has it's place and has been beneficial!)
What do you use for catechism? That is something I've been considering starting with my kids, but want to pick a good one!

Elizabeth said...

#3 I agree completely! They are listening and taking it all to heart, and have amazing insight! Honestly, I drop the ball on Bible study sometimes, but then it comes up in conversation anyway. The Greek words on those cards popped out at me! I wanted to do Latin with my son since you don't have to learn a separate alphabet (he already has English and Cyrillic), but I love the idea of sprinkling in Greek and Hebrew! I will definitely check out those cards.

As far as catechism, we have tried the New City Catechism. My son hasn't really gotten the hang of memorization, and keeps answering the questions in his own words! So what do I do with that?

Bekah said...

We don't have kids, but if we did, I would absolutely be implementing something like this. So important! I love that you're moving away from Bible "stories." Several years ago, one of my Sunday School friends introduced this concept to me, and I was so glad she did. Even though I know they aren't just stories, it really does change my mindset to call them accounts. And I know it helps when I'm teaching, because others can begin to hear it that way too!

Rachel said...

#1 brought back memories of a rather silly story from my childhood--my pastor was teaching the children during an evening service, and he began telling us about some Bible event, but he used the words, "Once upon a time" to begin. Well, little 7-year-old me raised my hand and eagerly told him that he should NEVER use the words "Once Upon a Time" when starting Bible stories, because the Bible is true, and "Once Upon a Time" is only for imaginary stories.
I said that. To my pastor, in front of all the kids and parents. I'm sure my mom was mortified, but the pastor took it very well and said I was very right, and he wouldn't do that anymore. I was a weird kid, but I'm good friends with that pastor to this day, and he's the one I picked to marry me and Angel, haha!

Those cards look so incredibly awesome, to the point where I am so sad that I'm only hearing about them now, and that they aren't even being released till tomorrow. My brother is flying out to visit us on Tuesday and it's our one chance to get stuff from America...but no way would there be enough time for the order to ship to his house before then.

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