As a child, I grew up in a church-y home, but not necessarily a personal faith kind of home. As I’ve grown and matured over the years, it’s become clear to me that there’s an enormous difference between being religious and actually being an “apprentice of Jesus” (as labeled by Dallas Willard inThe Divine Conspiracy). My desire is for my children to learn from the beginning how important knowing God’s Word and spending time with Him in prayer are.
When Drama Queen was just a little bitty crawling thing, we would start each day by reading a chapter or two or three from the Bible. I was doing a read-the-Bible-in-a-year plan, so I would just read that day’s plan. Of course, I had no expectation of this sweet girl sitting still and listening, but I wanted to set that foundation of starting the day with God – both for her and for me. She would crawl all over the room and me as I read – with periodic tickle and zerbert breaks.
(20 months old, looking through a Bible at a doctor’s office)
Once Mr. BANG was born, I didn’t know quite how to continue that routine – so I didn’t. For over a year, we didn’t have any routine Bible reading. Of course, we read plenty of Bible story books. Also, Drama Queen was obsessed with a few different Bible story stories (David and Goliath, Paul’s conversion, and the first 6 chapters of Daniel were the main ones), so to be able to act them out multiple times a day as she wanted, we also read them from the Bible multiple times a day. That was actually very cool, because I learned the details of those stories so much better.
Last fall, though, with the help of Charlotte Mason ideas and my friend Corrie who introduced me to the idea of doing catechism (I thought it was “just a Catholic thing”), we began starting our days with a Bible study time. The kids and I immediately loved it! I remember one day early on when the kids were playing in the dirt in the backyard (their favorite activity). I told them that in one minute, it would be time to come to the front porch for Bible study. Drama Queen immediately dropped her digging tools and ran to the porch yelling, “Yay! Bible study!! I LOVE Bible study!!” THAT’S what a mom wants to hear! 🙂
We have 5 aspects to our Bible study: catechism, memory verse, Scripture reading, hymn, and prayer.
For catechism and memory verse, I made two separate binders. I introduce one new catechism question and one new Bible passage a week. (For longer passages, I just do a section each week until we’ve learned the whole passage.) The catechism I use is written for children and is very simply worded. It covers the basics of the Christian faith in a very clear manner. I love that pretty much every time Drama Queen has a question about what it means, the next week’s question explains that detail. Here are some examples of the questions and answers:
- Who made you? God made me.
- What else did God make? God made all things.
- Are there more gods than one? There is only one God.
- In how many persons does this one God exist? In three persons.
- Who are they? The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
- Who is God? God is a Spirit and does not have a body like men.
- Can you see God? No. I cannot see God, but He always sees me.
- Who wrote the Bible? Holy men who were taught by the Holy Spirit.
- What is your soul? My soul includes all of me that should know and love God.
- What is sin? Sin is any transgression of the law of God.
(She said this illustration is a banana tree with bruised bananas.)
For Bible verses, I typically go by a specific list of verses I found on a Charlotte Mason website. However, I do vary from that some. Last December, we focused on learning the original Christmas story from Luke 2:1-18. There have also been times that the children were learning a particular verse at church, so we focused on that same verse at home. In the binders, I leave space on the pages for the children to illustrate it. So far, Drama Queen has always been the illustrator, but now that Mr. BANG’s artwork is moving beyond complete scribbles, it’s probably time to give him that opportunity as well.
(This is Adam and Eve.)
For Bible reading, again I follow a plan I found through a Charlotte Mason site. I like this plan because it provides short passages through the whole Bible and kind of makes each one it’s own little story. For instance, in the “Moses vs. Pharaoh” section of Exodus, each plague is it’s own story. In the New Testament, each parable of Jesus is its own story. The passages are never overwhelmingly long, but they do give the children the opportunity to hear the whole Bible over a period of time. We read an OT and NT passage each day.
Now, again, my children are only 2 and 4 years old. I have absolutely no expectations of them sitting and quietly listening and participating during all this! We sit in the reading corner of the playroom/school room (or the front porch swing, or on a blanket in the back yard), and sometimes they do just want to sit and cuddle against me. However, they usually are climbing across the pillows behind me, or fixing my hair, or doing flips over my legs. That is perfectly fine! I don’t require them to give the answers of the catechism questions or say the Bible verses, but they frequently do on their own as they’re climbing, flipping, and sometimes diving. My rules for them in that part of Bible study are that they stay in our reading corner, not play with toys (unless it’s something small for them to have in their hands), and not talk or make loud sound effects unless they’re joining in with the study.
(I have made video of them reciting the catechism and memory verses, and I would love to post that here, but unfortunately I don’t have a clue how!)
The next part is probably their favorite: hymns. For that, they get to choose an instrument from the music shelf and dance around the room while I sing. (They always bring me an instrument to play too, and, yes, I sometimes do dance around with them!) I introduce a new hymn each month, and normally toward the end of the month, Drama Queen is joyfully singing along with me. Usually, once we finish that hymn, they ask for more hymns, so we sing one of the hymns we’ve learned previously. Drama Queen gets excited at church on Sundays when we sing hymns from our morning Bible studies.
For prayer, we gather back over at the reading area. We use this time for intercessory prayer. I ask them who they would like to pray for that’s not in the room with us. The most common response is “Daddy,” but at times they also mention a friend or an extended family member. I always ask if either of them wants to say the words, but 90% of the time, they want me to do it.
This Bible study time is such a precious time with the kids. I love getting to start our day this way, and pray that it creates a foundation for Drama Queen and Mr. BANG of always making that daily focused time with God a priority in their lives.