Substantive Education

November 7, 2008

Teaching Children About God, Part 2

I started this post awhile ago to answer questions I’d received about how we taught our children about God. Some questions specifically centered on curriculum choices, others were about books and movies we allowed, others were more specific to their child’s current struggles and situation. All, however, shared the common concern of how to raise wise and Godly children in a culture so often opposed to our beliefs. There is no magic formula (unfortunately) and every child is created by God unique with their own story. However, I strongly believe there are some things we can do to give our kids a firm foundation. Since this is part 2 of my thoughts you may want to go back and take a look at Part 1,.

So, Question Number One: Did we use Christian textbooks/curriculum in our homeschool?

We used both Christian and secular books. The reasoning for this is simple. All truth is God’s truth.

Levi being baptized by his Dad.

Levi being baptized by his Dad.

Because facts are printed in a Christian book as opposed to a secular book does not make them more or less true, or more or less Godly. Whether we are studying addition, science, or history when we discover truths about the world we live in we are finding out about our Creator. In that sense, all of our education is a Christian endeavor, even an act of worship. God has placed within us a desire to learn, to grow, to create. Education should give us the tools we need to do those things.

I tried to find the best curriculum I could in each subject. Sometimes they were from Christian publishers, sometimes they weren’t. (Sometimes I made up my own.) My concern was that each would lead my student to a greater understanding of the topic, and hence a greater understanding of God and the world and people he created. Studying science is studying God and his creation…studying history is studying His story….studying Math is studying the unchanging laws God has established. Don’t compartmentalize your homeschool day into Bible…and everything else. Our faith permeated everything we taught even though we used a variety of books to accomplish that goal. Obviously this requires a higher degree of vigilance on the part of parents to correct and discuss any ideas presented that might be contrary to a Christian worldview, but those discussions are also useful teaching moments.

What Bible Curriculum did you use?

Before I answer this, let me just say that what we did at home was in addition to what they were receiving at church in their Sunday School class and mid week meetings. I think it’s vital for children to be a part of the life of the church and be involved, but I also think parent need to be careful not to neglect discussions and instruction at home to be sure children are getting a thorough grounding. Nothing can be more important than this.

Let me just emphatically say, “Don ‘t buy into the ‘twaddle’.” If any of you have had the opportunity to buy curriculum for your church’s Sunday School you may have encountered some of the same frustrations that I have. Charlotte Mason called it ‘twaddle’. She was particularly critical of much of the writing done for children’s books because she had a great respect for the minds of children. She felt parents and teachers should be encouraged to read to their children ‘living’ books and eliminate the twaddle from their lives. Let’s be honest, much of what is written for children in Christian bookstores would fall into this category.

Children have sharp, interested minds and those minds need to be respected. When I read our children

Christmas morning at church

Christmas morning at church

the story of Adam and Eve’s fall straight from the book of Genesis many interesting discussions followed. Children ask many of the same questions adults ask and find many aspects of the story relevant. They discuss the way each character tried to blame another, the way the serpent tried to appeal to Eve, the silliness of trying to hide from God. In contrast, when we pick up the typical Bible curriculum we read a paraphrase of the story then ask questions designed to lead to one correct answer and a lesson summed up in a simple sentence for the children to walk away with. I find this unnecessary and limiting. So, when it comes to Bible Curriculum I would strongly encourage you to use the Bible.

Here is the approach we took. When the kids were really young, toddlers and preschool we had a Bible Story book with pictures that we read through. By the time they were in kindergarten they could recite back most of the stories by looking at the corresponding picture, and had a solid grounding in the stories of the Old and New Testament.

As they got older we read together a story directly from the Scriptures and had a brief discussion. As they moved into Jr. High and High school we encouraged them to read on their own. In our house and extended family, discussions of a religious nature are a common occurrence. If that is not the case in your family you will have to make a more concentrated effort to introduce those conversations. I have found these open ended discussions far more beneficial than most curriculum.

That said, there are a couple of programs I have come across and used that we found very beneficial. The first is Memlok, which is a Bible Memory program. I think it’s crucial for children and adults to ‘hide God’s word in their hearts. When my kid’s were young they did some of this through church programs and some with Memlok. Memlok has scriptures divided up into 48 different categories and printed onto small memory cards. So let’s say your child is struggling with anger. You can pull out verses that have to do with anger and help your child to memorize them. The back of each card has a visual clue to the first few words of the verse to help you get started and to aid in ‘locking’ the verse in your mind. This adds a visual element for those kids who have trouble memorizing. If you work consistently through the book you will memorize verses from every book in the Bible and have 700 verses memorized. There is a built in review system that only takes 5 minutes per day. You can get the program for your computer and print out a separate set of cards for every family member.

The other thing we participated in was the Community Bible Study Homeschool program. Community Bible Study (CBS) is a non-denominational study conducted all across the United States (and abroad). It is an inductive approach to study. Students work their way through a selection of scripture, making observations and answering questions on a worksheet. Unlike many programs these worksheets are specifically designed to get you digging, each answer you give must have a verse referenced, so no falling back on ‘what you’ve heard.’ CBS is an adult study, but in some areas they have a corresponding homeschool program, so while mom is working on her study, the child is doing a variation of the same and then coming each week to their own discussion group to go over what they have learned. And, for those of with preschoolers, the preschool program is great, my kids couldn’t wait to be there.

Well, I think that’s enough for now. Possibly we will continue this topic next month.


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