When you customize your Bible teaching to match your child’s current stage of learning, understanding and retention are maximized. Here are some priorities to focus on during each stage of learning.
This is an exciting stage in Bible teaching, because you’re child is truly engaging in stories and picture books. Here are a few ways to take advantage of that engagement.
It isn’t too early to start introducing your child to the joys of Scripture memorization. Choose short, simple verses so you can go ahead and teaching them real verses, not abbreviated or simplified versions. Be relaxed, have fun, and repeat previously memorizing verses often. Use songs and games to help cement the learning process.
Even if your child is familiar with many Bible stories, keep those stories in front of her daily. Read aloud from a storybook Bible, act out stories with her, and find coloring pages that she can work on while you tell or read the story. There are also fun songs that help reinforce Bible stories.
In addition to Bible storybooks, there are a wide variety of other picture books specially geared toward introducing young children to Christ-like behavior and even very simple theological concepts. Incorporate these into your reading time.
This is the familiarization stage of learning. Take this opportunity to help your children become excited about Scripture, even as they are becoming excited about other learning. Here are a few priorities for this stage:
One verse per week is a great pace for most children in this stage, either focusing on single verses or learning 6-8 verse passages. You can also introduce the books of the Bible and Bible divisions in this stage. But remember to keep it fun with games and songs. Putting pressure on Scripture memorization is a great way to rob the joy from God’s Word.
Books and resources are available to help you teach catechism at an age-appropriate level, and many are designed to fit the doctrinal beliefs of various denominations. Use this either as a teaching tool or as an alternate memorization option. Either way, do not stress too much about understanding in these years. Remember, this is an information-gathering time. Understanding will begin to dawn soon.
Choose a good Bible story book such as The Jesus Storybook Bible or The Gospel Story Bible and enjoy read-aloud time. As you read, tell your child what book of the Bible the story comes from to begin to build a concept of Scripture as a whole instead of just individual stories. Continue reading other books that introduce theology in child-friendly terms.
BEGINNING TO UNDERSTAND
Over the course of this stage, your children will take the information they absorbed in the first stage and begin to understand how it all connects. Here are some priorities for this stage:
Add a few 6-18 verse passages to the selection, increasing average learning speed to two verses per week. Reinforce the books of the Bible and Bible divisions in this stage. Again, keep this enjoyable with songs and games, and do not hesitate to adjust the selection size and speed of memorization according to the needs of your child.
Content & History
Use these years to begin to teach overviews of each book. This is a great time to explore how all of Scripture ties together in one story and to begin to dive into the non-narrative portions of Scripture. These years are also perfect for learning about the authors of each book of the Bible, how the Bible was compiled, and the history of the English translation.
Take the extra step and seek ways to take a Bible reading and apply it to daily life. Share those applications with your children to help them step over the bridge from fun Bible stories to an understanding of Scripture as God’s direct communication with us.
Learning to Reason
In this stage, students begin to battle with the deeper issues of life that will shape their personal belief system. Here are some priorities that will help them learn to glean their beliefs from Scripture itself.
Begin to expand toward memorization of longer passages such as the Sermon on the Mount or short epistles. Be flexible on memorization time frame and refrain from putting pressure or strict deadlines on your student. Instead, work through these longer passages a bit at a time, perhaps even memorizing alongside your child, discussing what you are learning as you go. Be sure to plan a celebration for that moment of completion.
Find an online course or a class taught at a local church that teaches the basics of biblical interpretation.
The task of hermeneutics is to discover the meaning of the text in its proper setting; to draw meaning from Scripture rather than reading one’s presuppositions into it.
The importance of careful biblical interpretation can hardly be overstated. Misinterpreting the Bible is ultimately no better than disbelieving it. What good does it do to agree that the Bible is God’s final and complete revelation and then misinterpret it? The result is still the same: one misses God’s truth. Interpreting Scripture to make it say what it never intended to say is a sure road to division, error, heresy, and apostasy.
– John MacArthur
As your student takes ownership of her beliefs, equip the defense of those beliefs through an apologetics course.
Apologetics is the branch of Christian theology that seeks to address the intellectual obstacles that keep people from taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ seriously.
The word translated “answer” in 1 Peter 3:15 is the Greek word apologia that means “defense” and from which we get the English word apologetics.
Unless the Gospel is understood at the worldview level, its impact upon those who accept it as well as its ability to change the structures of their societies will always fall short of God’s best for his people. But, as I will argue, the Gospel cannot be understood at the worldview level without apologetics.
– Ravi Zacharias