As a Christian, I was familiar with Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old he will not depart from it.” It seems like sound advice but maybe a little…obvious. The generality of the statement failed to provide much help in the parenting realm, at least for me. Sometimes hearing or seeing something frequently causes it to no longer register, like the clutter that constantly invades every nook of my house.
Last spring, while studying Deuteronomy, I was struck by verse 11:2 “Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the Lord your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm.” It goes on to give a record of God’s miraculous acts (because let’s face it, we so quickly forget) and then commands in verse 11:18-23 “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to you children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up…If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow–to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to hold fast to him, then the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you.”
Here are concrete instructions that I knew I wanted to implement but how?
I started by searching for better children’s books. Most of the books we previously owned were shelved because of chants in the storyline like “Kill him, kill him” that were a little too ‘catchy’ for a 2 and 3 year old. The wrong messages were clearly being absorbed. I found three I love: Praying with My Fingers: An Easy way to Talk to God by Paraclete Press, My Very First Prayers by Gabrielle Mercer, and The Story of Jesus by Thomas Nelson. I found the prayer books especially helpful as I introduced praying throughout the day instead of simply at meal times. These are certainly not a substitute for the Bible but a great initiation for the youngest Christians.
Then, I began looking for devotionals to incorporate Bible study into the kids’ routine. I bought several preschool devotional books but were not impressed with any. By broadening my search to Christian curriculums, I found not one but two wonderful programs–Mother Goose Time’s Christian Experience and Bible Study Fellowship (BSF)’s children’s program. Neither are simply passive listening or route memorization but interweave Bible knowledge with music and activities than enhance understanding and motor skills.
We started Mother Goose Time’s Christian Experience in August. Each month focuses on a specific Bible verse and Bible story. The provided teacher guide contains activities to help make the message meaningful for the preschooler. The included activities truly keep my kids interested in the story for the entire month, while also helping with retention. In fact, even after the conclusion of the month long study, my kids will continue to request previous stories be repeated. Four crafts are also supplied. Today’s craft not only reinforced the central monthly theme but reviewed story sequencing and scissor skills. My kids also frequently ask for the accompanying CD to be played in the car and easily learned the songs. The Christian Experience can be used as a 10 minute daily devotional or as a once a week 60 minute Sunday school lesson.
BSF started in September and provides a structured weekly Bible lesson. Unlike the Christian Experience, the aims and verses change each week (instead of monthly). This enables greater exposure to the Bible but corresponds with less retention, at least so far. I love that BSF incorporates traditional hymnals which is rare at most of our local churches. BSF separates children by age, thus my kids are in different classroom. I am hoping this will foster independence and some new friendships. If nothing else, their little mini reunion celebration when I pick them up each week warms my soul!
Although we are only starting our journey, I am excited by our progress. Both kids appear to be benefitting and developing their faith. No one in our household is a Bible scholar or saint but “If you have faith like a grain of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20.