Have you ever wondered: Is my child ready to study the Bible?
My oldest son, Noah, was almost two, and we were watching one of the Mickey Mouse Christmas movies, Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas. In one of the scenes, Mickey gets angry with Pluto and leaves the house in a huff, and Pluto, sad he had disappointed his pal, hops on a train and runs away.
I look over at my sweet Noah, and his eyes are filled with tears, which begin rolling down his cheeks, sharply followed by a wailing, “Nooooooooooooooo!”
Up until that moment, I’m not sure I realized that Noah was actually following the plot line of the movie. At 21 months old, he was capable to comprehend what was happening in the story. I’m not sure exactly when the change occurred, but he had moved beyond just liking the songs and the moving colors on the television.
And that was when it hit me: If my child can comprehend a cartoon, he can comprehend the Bible.
After all, the Bible, in the simplest explanation, is the written record of God’s story. Scripture is the greatest story ever told.
So if you are seeing the signs that your child’s mind can comprehend story, don’t settle for just filling their minds with cartoons. Begin filling their minds with God’s truth.
Here are a few things that I’ve enjoyed using with my kids:
Don’t wait until they’re ready to get started.
As newborns, I would read a short devotional to my children at night. But here’s the secret between you and me: it wasn’t for them.
It was for me.
As a mom of a newborn, when rest was in shorter supply, which also means a lower level of brain functioning, there were times when I would get more from a children’s Bible story or devotion than my own quiet time.
Why? Because it was simple. And it was often the simple truth of the gospel that my heart needed.
A few I recommend: The Jesus Storybook Bible, His Little Princess (for girls) by Sheri Rose Shepherd, and His Mighty Warrior(for boys), also by Sheri Rose Shepherd.
At the toddler stage, interaction plays a large role in comprehension.
The same truth we know for ourselves starts young. The more senses and learning styles you can cross, the more likely your child is not to just to hear the story, but to retain the story.
In addition to the tools at Tiny Theologians (the ABC cards and the Lord’s Prayer Interactive cards are our faves!),we also love My First Hands-On Bible. Throughout the short stories, there are prompts in the margins for kids to act things out, repeat a phrase, etc. Especially if you have active kids, these little cues for interaction reallyhelp them engage with the story.
When they reach reading age, use God’s Word to guide them in spiritual truth with reading benefits.
Last summer, I did my first full-fledged Bible study with my son, Noah (from the above story – who is now eight!) We studied the book of Proverbs together. It prompted many great discussions, even throughout his school year, as he encountered different situations with friends, academic challenges and teamwork in athletics.
As young as first grade, he is seeing the wisdom in following God’s ways – because he heard the truth in God’s Word first, and then he experienced many of the things God either warns about or encourages us to pursue.
Of course, there were words I needed to help him read, and there were some topics we agreed to dig into more when he’s older, but essentially, Proverbs is a book that reminds us we have a choice to make:
Are we going to live like the wise man, or are we going to live like the fool?
Proverbs reminds us of what the wise man lives like and the rewards that follow wisdom. At the same time, Proverbs also warns us about how the fool chooses to live and the consequences of foolishness.
It’s incredible to me how much those words have weight with him now. If I tell him he’s being wise, he beams. And if I ever have to whisper that he’s headed toward foolishness, he also knows the seriousness of adjusting his behavior.
To be clear – reading Proverbs together does not create perfect children. But it did have an effect on him, and he was able to comprehend more of it than I expected.
Bottom line: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
And because we know that’s true, it’s always a good idea for including God’s Word as the foundation of our parenting, and it’s never too early.
You got this, mama – because He’s got you.