When and How Do You Begin to Teach Children About Their Bible?
When children begin to be aware of the world outside of their own bodies, they are able to begin to absorb the first facts about the Word of God. Just holding your Bible in their presence and talking about it begins a lifetime of learning of who God is and how we know about Him. Does your child or the children you are teaching know how you feel about the Bible by the way you hold it or open it and read from it? Children understand early on that the things you hold dear in your life are the things you treat respectfully, take care of and keep tucked away, bringing them out to use in a careful manner. One of these treasured things should be your Bible. They will not understand the first time you let them see you read from it or even the third or fourth time but soon they will come to realize, “This thing…this book…is important to my parent” (or teacher).
What words do we use when we bring out our Bible that will display how important this book is in our life? The first one we all probably think of is “holy.” But that may be a hard concept to teach to a small child at first. We could use the word, “favorite,” “special” or “best” as we communicate how we feel. Children learn very soon to know that a certain toy or stuffed animal is “my favorite.” Why not convey through those same words that the Bible is your “favorite” book? We can also use action to show how special our Bible is to us. We can hold it carefully, smile as we take it out and even hug it closely to our body. Other actions, such as pointing with our fingers to the words on the front of the Bible and saying them aloud or turning the pages carefully, will show your child how much you treasure it.
Now, what things do you teach your child first about the Bible? Most importantly they need to grasp that this is a book written to them from God. Their first “God facts” are that God is love and that He loves them and that He is our “Creator” or “Maker.” Then we can introduce the fact that the Bible is our “Love Letter” from God because He wants us to know how much He loves us. In fact the very first verse in the Bible is a great place to start. Teach “In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth.” Children can understand if God made everything and He made it for them to enjoy, they can understand this first important concept of His love for them. Learning a short song of a few words—even one you and your child make-up to your own tune is helpful at this point. Children often respond to songs before anything else. A song like “God made me, God made me, I’m so glad that God made me” can begin a learning experience about God that shows He made your child and you are a part of the love that God shows them. Then you can progress to other things that God made…the sun, moon and stars, animals, trees and water…and all of that is in the first few verses of Genesis.
What about as your child grows and begins to ask questions about God? This is a good time to introduce other aspects of the Bible. Children love questions that they answer quickly and get a positive reaction from you. So teach them simple things first. Show them how the Bible is a lot of books all put together! Show them the big division—where the Old Testament begins and ends and where the New Testament begins and ends. Tell them that everything that God put in the Old Testament tells about something wonderful that is going to happen when they get to the New Testament. (God himself coming to visit us on Earth as a little baby that grew up to solve a great problem that had happened (sin).
Christmas time is a great time to introduce the New Testament because younger children love hearing about the birth of a little baby and identify with a birthday coming. Don’t let the world teach your child about the birth of Jesus. You save that special learning experience for you and your child to share right from the Bible (from three of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke). I used a miniature nativity scene (one that was not easily broken and one they could hold and enjoy) to convey the marvelous story of the birth of Jesus and marked the words in my Bible so that my children could see the story there on the pages—even before they could read it themselves. You are enforcing the fact that the Bible is true, it is God’s Word and it is for them.
Teaching children about God is commanded in the Bible in Deuteronomy 6:6-7. It is the best way to show your children how much the Word of God means to you. As parents (or grandparents), you are their first teacher. Don’t let this privilege and responsibility slip past you. This is a sacred trust given to you by God. Treasure it.
Marilyn K. Smith
812 Whisenhunt Rd., Cope, SC 29003
Powered by Facebook Comments