Let’s face it, there are lots of elements of parenting that are intimidating. Right from the start there are just so many choices to make! What kind of car seat to buy, when to start solid foods, what age to start potty training, preschool or no preschool, the decisions seem endless! As parents we research and ask the right questions and then hope and pray we are making the best choice for our children. But what about teaching them to study the Bible?
As diligent as we are at creating great opportunities for our children, we often completely overlook their spiritual growth. It is our responsibility to feed their minds and their bodies, but it is also just as great of a responsibility to feed their souls.
What is it about leading our little ones spiritually that is so intimidating? Maybe we are scared that we will get it wrong, somehow say the wrong thing and lead them astray. Maybe we are discouraged because we simply aren’t as strong in the Lord as we feel we should be, so we are afraid to step up in this area.
The truth of the matter is that this is our greatest privilege as a parent. In Deuteronomy we are charged three different times to talk to our children about God (Deut. 11:18-21, Deut. 4:9-10).
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.” – Deuteronomy 6:5-9
Even when we are convinced of the importance, it can still feel intimidating. So how do we actually do this job of leading our little ones in reading the Bible?
Here are 4 easy ways to study the Word of God as a family:
1) Use your resources. The great news is that there are many, many resources available to parents that make introducing our kids to God’s Word easy and enjoyable. Many churches have take home resources that build on what your child learned in church on Sunday. Check with your children’s ministry to see if they might also have online resources. There are lots of great resources for parents to help teach children the Bible. Just a few to get you started are:
– The Bible App for Kids. This resource will keep you and your child busy for hours. It is an app that you can download to just about any device and it has curriculum, videos, the Jesus Storybook Bible and activities. Your little one can watch and play on their own but then it is a great way to teach them about the Bible on their level.
– Focus on the Family was founded over 35 years ago by Dr. James Dobson as a global Christian ministry dedicated to helping families thrive. They have resources for strengthening marriages, help in parenting, questions about the Bible and even social issues.
– Kids of Integrity is a ministry of Focus on the Family that offers free, downloadable lesson plans that help parents instill Christ-honouring character traits in their kids. It includes Bible stories, crafts, activities, memory verses and more. It also includes a parent’s guide and covers topics like contentedness, patience, self-control, confidence and courage.
2) Learn together. Our kids want to be with us and need to see us excited about reading the Bible. You may have heard the story of David facing Goliath a hundred times, but reading it to your 3 year old can make it come alive in a new way. The questions your child may ask after hearing about Joseph’s time in prison can teach you new truths you never realized were in that story. Many of the resources listed above also have creative ways to apply the Word to our lives as well as questions to discuss as a family and even read aloud options that can be used for the whole family to listen together.
3) Make it a habit. Find a time that works for you as a family to study the Bible together. It may take some trial and error and it may even change during different seasons. Toddlers and preschoolers may only have a 10-15 minute attention span initially, but make that time worthwhile. There are great family devotionals geared specifically for preschoolers, elementary and all the way through the teen years. Find one that suits your family and then make that time together a priority. YouVersion Bible app has Bible reading plans that you can sign up for and follow both individually and as a family. They add new reading plans frequently and have ones specifically for families. You can even set it up for an alarm to notify you that it is time to do your devotion.
4) Let it be fun! We certainly want our kids to love God’s Word and keep coming back for more, so let it be fun! If your two year old can only sit still for a 5 minute Bible story, then read a quick story and sing a song, but keep it simple and fun. Thankfully the internet gives us a tremendous amount of resources just a click away. Do some research and try some of these resources out to see which interests your family the most. Another great website that also has printable cue cards for mealtime and bedtime, as well as videos is Studio 252. A parent must register but your kids can go on the site and navigate stories, games and more and then the cue cards can be used for discussion and application.
Studying the Bible with our children does not have to be boring or tedious. Technology, thankfully, has made it so much easier for us to introduce the Word of God to our little ones in a way that they can not only understand but enjoy.
Which new resource or tactic are you going to try out with your kids this week to study the Bible together?