Guest Post: Biblical Foundations in Child Education – Part 1

bibleGuest post by Jessica, mother of two, who is joyfully serving alongside her husband as they minister as international church planters in Eastern Europe.

How Did We Start the Biblical Education of Our Young Children?

When my son was a year old, I felt very convicted that my husband and I were not fulfilling our biblical responsibility to be teaching him.  We were sporadic in our Bible reading with him and we were not having any family devotionals or worship. I was working very hard with him on counting, the alphabet, and colors but I was not spending our days saturating him with the Word of God.

After talking with my husband and asking him to begin leading our family in regular worship, I began to research what my role in the biblical education of my children would be as a wife and mother.

To aid me, I tried to pick strategic friends that would encourage us in this area.  We had growing relationships with families who were ahead of us in the raising of their children and we could learn from them.  We had friendship with families who, like us, were trying to figure out what types of practices were good for teaching our children.  We tried to absorb as much as possible from people who could teach us in this area.

We also read a lot of books and listened to a lot of sermons on the subject of family worship and the biblical education of children.  Whenever possible, we would both read the book or listen to the sermon and then try to discuss it.

We built theological library for every member our family.  By shopping the used books on Amazon, we found some great deals and began to develop a great collection of books and CDs on parenting, biblical manhood and womanhood, marriage, basic doctrine for children, devotionals and hymns, etc.  I thought of it this way- if I was willing to spend money to buy resources to teach my children to read and write, how much more should I invest on books that point them to God?

The Components of Our Children’s Biblical Education

Probably the most important aspect of our children’s biblical education is our family worship.  It is so important for the family to come together to worship our Lord.

Our family worship has looked different at different times.  When we started out, we would sing a few hymns or worship songs and then my husband read through Genesis and then later through Paul’s epistles.  Now that we are overseas and without a church in English, he actually prepares a sermon for us.   We sing songs, we read scripture corporately, and we listen to the Word taught.

Another aspect of our biblical education for our children is daily Bible time.  This is a time of the day where every family member has his or her quiet time in the Word.  We start out by reading from the children’s Bible to the children.  Then we read in a devotional and discuss it.   After that, our son goes to his table and looks at his Bible and devotional book.  If he chooses not to read, then that’s ok also, but he is expected to sit at his table quietly until he is excused.  Most days he really enjoys looking at his Bible and devotional book.

My husband and I have some quiet time in the Word also during this time.  Since our son is 3, we require him to sit quietly for somewhere between 5 to 15 minutes.  After that I give him another quiet activity for him to do at his table for an additional 5 to 15 minutes- like coloring or looking at other books.  We hope that when he does come to faith that he will already understand the importance of daily spending time in the Word because he saw us do it everyday.  And because he will have grown up having a quiet time, it will already be a habit for him.

It has taken a lot of time to train him to sit still during that time.  We discovered that he did best having a set place for this quiet time.  We will start training our daughter in this also soon.  Since she is not a year old yet, I will start training her to have this time in a playpen.

Another aspect of our biblical education for our children is scripture memorization.  We started this when our son was 2 but I realize now that he could have started sooner.  If he was young enough to memorize books that were read to him again and again or songs that we sang, then he was capable of memorizing scripture.  We are trying to pick key verses that are key to shaping his worldview in addition to verses that will help him with sin patterns.

One thing I do to help all of us out with the memorization is I come up with hand motions to correspond with the verse.  They are sometimes silly motions, but I learn the verses so much more quickly and then can lead our son in reciting the verses.  After he has the motions down, I stop reciting the verse with him and just remind him of the motions.  Usually within a week, he can recite the verse without any help!

We also recently started memorizing passages with him.   This is so easy and really helpful to me as well!  Every night before bed, after we read from his children’s Bible, we read through a passage in our Bible.  Right now we’re reading through John 1.  We stay on the same text for about a month and by the end of the month, we all have it memorized!

I cannot explain to you the joy I had when I heard my son recite all of Ephesians 6:10-20 by himself.  I will also hear him singing it in little tunes he makes up or reciting scripture as he plays.

Keys for Biblical Education

Consistency is probably the most important thing in your teaching of your children. It is so much easier for everyone involved when the time and date is set.

When my husband was home less because of work, we would do family worship every week on Monday and Friday mornings.  Now that he is home a lot more, we have this time on Sunday evenings when we would be at church if we were in the states.   Having those set times that work with our schedules has been important to making sure we set aside that time.

Your husband doesn’t have to have a seminary degree or even experience teaching to lead your family.  When we started, my husband would just read a few chapters from Genesis to us.  Encouragement and appreciation of his leadership and guidance will help your husband to want to make this a meaningful time of learning and growing for everyone.

As a wife and mommy, it is not right for me to lead family worship.  My husband, the head of the home, needs to lead this time.  He takes charge of it.  He chooses the songs (often seeking the family’s input or choosing some of our favorites), he determines what scripture passages we read, and he teaches.  I am there to learn and worship.

There are times though, that the husband isn’t home and the mommy needs to do the teaching.  Two years ago, my husband was gone at work five nights a week until 9:30PM so I put our son to bed alone.  I led my son in his nightly devotionals during those times.

Don’t underestimate your children.  They need to hear the scriptures from a real Bible!  They need to hear words like salvation, sanctification, and grace, even if they don’t quite understand it yet.  Hymns are a great way to teach your children theology- even if the words are big or the syntax slightly outdated- and your children will love whatever music you play regularly.

A Final Thought

This is one area of parenting that really excites me.  I long for the day when my children have come to salvation and are thirsting for God’s word.  I pray that my husband and I are faithful to be teaching them of the of the truth and are daily growing in our intimacy with God and our knowledge of Him.

In Part Two, I will share with you some of the resources we use to aid us in this journey.

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

16 Responses to Guest Post: Biblical Foundations in Child Education – Part 1

  1. Carol March 17, 2009 at 5:25 pm #

    Could you possibly share some of the books that you found helpful in pointing your children to God? Is there a book demonstrating the hand motions that correspond to a Bible verse?

    • Jessica March 18, 2009 at 2:15 am #

      I don’t know of a particular resource that has sign language or hand motions specifically for scripture. I just make them up. I have used basic signs with my children before they can talk so I know a little bit of sign language, but mostly I just make up whatever I think will help us remember the verse. If you think of the motions to a song like He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” you’ll sort of be onto what I do. Not every word has to have a corresponding motion. For example for Deut. 6:4-5 we used just sevens signs/motions for the two verses. For John 3:16 we had 8 motions/signs… I cannot explain to you how much it helps everyone in my family!

  2. Kate March 17, 2009 at 1:38 pm #

    Great article, thanks for sharing! We have a structure like that, except we aren’t big on hymns. Some are good, but we don’t stay on most of them.

    Since I know sign language, I’ve taught my children sign language even before they were speaking! So even in times of worship they won’t even sing, but worship w/sign language, it’s just beautiful!

  3. Alison March 17, 2009 at 12:13 pm #

    I truly appreciate the insight you’ve given here on how to pursue a Biblically focused family. It’s important to spend regular time together in worship and study, and also alone. Incorporating some of these elements is key! I value the way you have diligently worked to do this as a family! I do, however, have one concern with this particular statement: “As a wife and mommy, it is not right for me to lead family worship.” I definitely agree that the husband is the head of the household. However, I do not agree that it should be only him leading the family in worship. To do so, this sets an example that only the father has valuable insight on the Scriptures, and the mother is an adequate substitute when he is not available. Women have been given spiritual insight, and due to their compassionate and tender nature, have a lot to teach their children (and others) about God. Also, who ministers to your husband spiritually? He is only human and could benefit greatly from a woman’s perspective on what she is learning from God in her daily life. Obviously a lot of you won’t agree with me, and that’s okay. But I felt it was worth posing some alternative thoughts. I truly do agree with most of your ideas, but this was just one that I struggled with.

    • Jessica March 18, 2009 at 2:35 am #

      You’re right- mothers do have a lot to offer their children and husband! I hope that I will be a constant source of biblical wisdom and insight for every member of my family both in the way I live and in the words I speak. And I do not see myself as a substitute to fill in when my husband is gone, but rather half of a team God has instituted to instruct, love, discipline, and disciple our children. My husband and I have a different role, though not one is more important than the other.
      Since my husband is the head of the home, I submit myself to his teaching and leadership. I feel it is biblically right for him to lead worship and teaching time when he is home. I don’t want to take charge of anything that is not mine to have charge of. The two books I recommend in part two of this speak about this issue so much more eloquently and completely than I can here, so I recommend you read those books and compare what they say with scripture. They also address families where the husband is not willing to lead.
      Thanks for commenting on this!

  4. Jessie March 17, 2009 at 11:35 am #

    Thank you for this wonderful reminder! Our firstborn is due next month, and I know it will be easier to start out right than to try to build habits later.

  5. Andrea March 17, 2009 at 10:38 am #

    Thank you for this. I was taught from the Bible as a child, but my parents didn’t have regular family worship or quiet time (now they do with my younger siblings). Because of that, I really look to others who can help give me a picture of what that looks like in other families. What time of day works well for you to worship together or have quiet time? Thank you for this article. It was perfect timing for me.

    • Jessica March 18, 2009 at 2:19 am #

      I suggest you have devotions and family worship when everyone is fed and rested! :) We do our “Bible Time” right after we eat breakfast. We have had family worship at different times of the day but are having it right after dinner right now. Consistency has also been very helpful. It is part of our routine so we don’t let the week slip by without setting aside this time.

  6. Gabrielle March 17, 2009 at 9:00 am #

    Thanks for an encouraging message on such an important topic. I am looking forward to part 2!

  7. Robin March 17, 2009 at 8:30 am #

    Great article! I teach babies-2 year old Sunday School and would love some ideas to not only use myself in class, but to pass on to my parents.

  8. zsera March 17, 2009 at 7:26 am #

    Thank you for this post. Do you have any suggestions on how to make these times fun for children? I try to read my 5 yr old son’s Children’s Bible to him but he always says he doesnt want to.

    • Jessica March 18, 2009 at 2:52 am #

      First of all I do think my son thoroughly enjoys his Bible time and family worship. We try hard to make sure it is a sweet time for our family to grow in our love for God and each other! We eagerly look forward to snuggling on the couch to read scripture together or singing and dancing to praises to our God!
      But at the same time, it isn’t really an option in our home just like brushing our teeth, eating dinner, cleaning up toys, or going to bed when we say isn’t an option. Because we’re trying really hard to teach our children to obey all the way, right away, with a happy heart, I think my son is used to submitting to what we ask him to do. So when I tell him it is time to play with his cars in the living room or time to color with mommy at the table… he does it. When I tell him it is time to play outside or time to play with stickers, he does.
      Without knowing you, it is hard to know the whole picture. Is your son is used to being read to? Is he required to submit to all of your instruction, from cleaning up his toys to when you say it is bed time? Does he see you loving God’s word and understand how important scripture is to you?
      I hope this is helpful for you as you consider how biblical instruction will be part of your son’s daily routine!

  9. Shannon Hazleton March 17, 2009 at 5:32 am #

    Very thorough and insightful post. Thank you.

  10. Jessica March 17, 2009 at 4:36 am #

    What an excellent and encouraging post! I particularly appreciated how you encourage and caution women in letting their husbands lead the family devotional time. Thank you for sharing!

  11. Laura Byrd March 17, 2009 at 4:01 am #

    I really appreciate this post. It is in connection with my life’s goal and purpose, which is to help bring us back to the place where families truly are the place where children are spiritually nurtured. It’s good to see families who see true value in family worship and intentionally pointing their children to the Bible. Thank you so much for posting and sharing.

  12. Karen March 17, 2009 at 3:33 am #

    Wonderful article! Thanks for having it shared with us!

    Take care!