Is My Child Ready to Study the Bible + Where Do We Start?

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 BibleHis 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.


The following article was written by Michelle Myers of She Works His Way. You can read more from her on her blog or follow her on Instagram!

Finding Your Way Home

When Dory’s parents realized the challenges she would face as a fish with short-term memory loss, they devised a plan to help keep her safe. They taught her little jingles to help her avoid the undertow. They made her practice introducing herself with the words “I suffer from short-term memory loss” so other fish would know she needed help. But most importantly, they played cheerful games of hide-and-seek, cleverly training her to follow the purple shells that would lead her home.

Towards the end of her movie-long quest to find her parents, Dory finds one purple shell. In an ocean full of shells, it seems too good to be true that she could have actually stumbled onto a trail left just for her. But the purple shells keep appearing, one after another, until she enters a valley in the ocean floor where the whole trail is laid out before her. Watching this movie as a parent, I felt a swell of joy when I realized her parents had made not just one, but dozens of trails stretching out like spokes from the central hub of their home. When her parents return with their fins full of shells, I just I knew that this was what they had been doing every day since their daughter left. Because that’s what I would do.

Probably the scariest part of parenting is the fear of sending our kids into the unknown. We know our time with them is short and that eventually they will strike out alone. We want to prepare them for everything but we simply don’t know what they will have to face or how they will face it. I know too many parents of adult children who’ve wrestled with their disappointment and grief over children they raised to love the Lord who have “gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6). I try to hold my hopes for my children in one hand, but hold this possibility in the other. It reminds me how important it is to make the most of these early years.

Just like Dory’s parents trained her with games and repetition to avoid the dangers of the ocean, my husband and I use a combination of fun and persistence to try to prepare our children for the challenges to come. We read their children’s Bibles over and over. We send them to Sunday school where they make crafts and eat snacks that reinforce the lessons from the Bible stories. Mostly we try to answer their questions. In doing so, we hope to provide them with a larger theology–a systematic understanding of God–that addresses the questions they are asking already and the ones they haven’t thought to ask yet.

C.S. Lewis compared theology to a map that is drawn “based on the experience of hundreds of people who…were in touch with God.” Theology is not meant to be formal or esoteric, it is intended to be practical guidance. Therefore, theology is as much for children as it is for anyone. When I teach my children theology, I’m giving them a map that shows them the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6), but I am also giving them a map for how to get back on the ancient paths (Jeremiah 9:16) should they ever lose their way. I want to train them now how to avoid danger, but also to know that if they get into trouble, love is always waiting at home for them. Always.

The underwater family reunion at the end of Finding Dory feels like a parable for parents who never want to lose their children but are wise enough to prepare for the possibility anyway.

 

 

This is a guest post by Laura Lundgren. 

 

​Laura Lundgren is a lifelong reader, former English teacher, current homemaker, and aspiring writer. She makes her home in Wisconsin with her husband, who is also her pastor, and her four young kids.

 

She reviews books and serves as the Women’s Editor at servantsofgrace.org. You can find more of her writing at her blog littlehouseinthesuburb.wordpress.com.

 

Teaching Children Theological Vocabulary | by Emily Jensen

I clutched the steering wheel as a sixteen-year-old driver who’d narrowly missed an accident, and I wondered, “If God is faithful to forgive my confessed sins, what happens if I die before having time to wipe my account clean? Will I go to hell?”

Those were deep thoughts for a dance team co-captain on her way home from school, but they were my honest questions. Although I vividly remember my confusion, I’m sure my youth group leader, parents, and Christian friends would have been surprised by my misunderstanding. Forgiveness was a common word in our circles—how could I hear it and use it without knowing what it meant?

This taught me something—professing Christians can conceal their misunderstanding of common theological words and still “fit in”. So as tempting as it is to think that my children grasp the theological language I throw their way, they might not. Although it takes a lifetime to refine the nuances of theological vocabulary, specificity and accuracy matters to the very foundation of our children’s faith. 

Here are four ways we can cultivate a clearer understanding of theological language in the daily discipleship of children we interact with:

Regular Exposure

I’ll never forget when one of my favorite education professor’s said, “Chatty moms are great for a baby’s development!” This seemed like good news for a verbal processor like me. Regular exposure teaches vocabulary using repetition and conversational context clues, so children can learn theological fluency as they read biblically-based books, hear adults have gospel conversations, sing rich hymns, listen to the bible read-aloud, hear sermons on Sunday, and eavesdrop on quality audio teachings. Some studies suggest a typically developing child needs to hear a word dozens of times before they can use it, so say bible words to your children (and say them often). Grasping definitions is a long road that requires intentional guidance, but basic familiarity is a first step. 

Intentional Teaching

Along with basic familiarity, children can learn theological language by hearing clear, age-appropriate definitions. Different denominations and religions use words like, Jesus, baptism, peace, consecration, and faith, but sometimes they mean completely different—even heretical—things by those words. To give children a solid grounding for orthodox definitions, we can teach basic catechisms. Even if they don’t fully understand what they’re saying, having biblically-rooted, memorized definitions for major theological words and concepts can help them grow in comprehension for years to come. You can also use vocabulary flash cards. Pick a new word each day or each week, and intentionally discuss its meaning. If those things seem too overwhelming, just pause when you’re reading a bible passage and clearly explain what unfamiliar words mean.

What you say to a three-year-old is going to be different from what you say to a thirteen-year-old, but it’s important to ensure your child knows the true, biblical meaning of the words they’re using. 

Daily Application

As our children hear theological vocabulary and grow in their understanding of specific definitions, we can connect those concepts to real life. It’s a great thing to hear an adult say, “Be patient!” and know that patience means, “Waiting without complaining,” but it’s also helpful to understand “patience” through actionable practice. When a child wants to go outside, but can’t until the rain stops, we can get down at their level and explain, “Let’s have patience. With God’s help, we can be content and look for another way to enjoy the day he’s given us. Do you want to read a book?” Similarly, a child can apply the concept of forgiveness when they reconcile with a sibling without carrying bitterness into the next activity or they can learn cheerful giving when they willingly dig into their piggy bank to put their coins into the offering plate. When a child lives theological language, they can begin to learn it.

Prayer for Transformation

Several years after my sixteen-year-old self questioned the true meaning of confession and forgiveness, I finally came to a God-induced realization that my record was so long I could never keep a clean account. The knowledge of my spiritual bankruptcy caused me to hope in the only person who could eternally clear my debts and provide undeserved righteousness. 

God’s convicting and transforming power is essential to our theological teaching because children can misunderstand (even when we’ve been clear) and children can know the right definitions without believing them. So along with intentional exposure, training, and application, we must pray. We pray that they learn to love the deep truths of the faith, seeing things like forgiveness as desperate personal needs and not just cognitive concepts. Ultimately, our hope isn’t in our ability or sufficiency to teach theological vocabulary, but in God’s ability to help true believers persevere and grow. Let’s teach—but let’s also trust. 

 

This is a guest post by Emily Jensen. 

 

Emily is the co-founder of Risen Motherhood, currently serving as the Content Director and the co-host of the weekly podcast. Emily enjoys being on the women’s ministry team at her local church, speaking to mom’s groups about the beauty of the gospel, and teaching in the church preschool nursery. Emily, her husband, and their five young children reside in central Iowa.


Share this article on Pinterest!