I’ve referenced Passionate Homemaking’s article about the 7 purposes of the home a few times now because I’m on a mission to meditate on each purpose, prayerfully applying them to our home. After thinking through ways to cultivate a more restful home, I’m on to purpose #2: The Home as a Place of Learning God’s Truth. So how can I more intentionally teach my kids? I’ve started by recognizing that there are two different forms of teaching.
Sometimes the role of homemaker feels like a bad episode of Survivor. Live through the day, make whatever alliances are necessary to maintain the peace, and if push comes to shove close one eye when somebody’s eating a bug. But deep down I know I’m called to more than just “surviving” the little years. I’m called to faithfully shepherd my children in the Truth of Jesus Christ. This won’t happen accidentally. So here’s what I’ve been brainstorming:
- Pick a Weekly Bible Story to Study–Rather than reading one new Bible story every day, a wise friend suggested focusing on one Bible story per week with my toddler and preschooler. Not only do kids love repetition, but this approach takes less prep time and allows us to slow down and go deeper.
- Have Questions Ready & Waiting–At the start of each week when you pick a Bible story, write a list of age-appropriate questions that are related to the gospel theme of the story. Then utilize all those natural talking times during the day (bedtime, lunchtime, craft time…etc.) to discuss some of the questions.
- Memorize Scripture–I always underestimate my kids’ ability to retain information. But even a 2-year-old (and some 18 month olds!) can repeat a simple Bible verse, especially if you practice it with hand motions.
- Recite Catechisms–Say what? I know. I’d never heard of a catechism until recently. Catechisms are just statements that express the foundations of Christianity, usually posed in question and answer form. (“Who made you?” “God made me.”) Catechisms for Young Children is based on the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and is a great place to start. The moment your child begins to speak, you can start teaching him these simple statements. The goal is not for him to understand it all right away, but to plant seeds of Truth within his heart that he will grow to understand in time.
Do you remember that annoying boy in gym class who would throw a dodgeball at your head and yell, “Think fast!” This is how I picture reactive teaching. It’s teaching in the context of the moment. “They said I can’t play with them.” (Think fast!) “Why did you argue with Daddy?” (Think fast!) “I will NEVER share my toys again!” (Think fast!) Sometimes I don’t know what to say, and sometimes I’m so depleted I honestly don’t care. In both instances, it’s tempting to use worldly wisdom to solve the problem (“Their game looks boring anyway.” “Sometimes people just argue.” “Be nice or you will never have friends!”)
But to do this is to miss a MASSIVE opportunity! Where proactive teaching presents the gospel, reactive teaching applies the gospel to the reality of your child’s life. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 talks about this kind of teaching: “These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Clearly this is an all day, every day, lifestyle kind of teaching. And as always, the ability to undertake such a task comes only by walking with God in His ever sufficient grace.
Are you ready for my true confession time? My kids eat lunch in front of the TV on busy days, we haven’t read a Bible story all week, and right now one of my kids is banging on my door begging me to hurry up so we can play. Have I ever mentioned that I blog as much for myself as for others? That being said, I welcome your great ideas for intentionally teaching your children God’s Truth. What routines have you put into practice in your home? What books have been helpful? What practices have been fruitful?
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20 thoughts on “Teaching God’s Truth in the Home”
Jeanne, I’ve been loving your blog. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about teaching God’s Truth. The catechism idea is intriguing! Maybe we’ll try that. I’ve had a great time memorizing scripture verses with my children, too. Another thing that works for us we call “Scripture Power” after a song the kids learned at church. We have a collection of pictures of scripture stories, so for Scripture Power (after we sing the song, of course!), we look at one of the pictures, then read directly out of the scriptures, just a few verses so we don’t surpass their little attention spans. Another great thing we’ve tried intermittently I got from the great book “Honey for a Child’s Heart” by Gladys Hunt. After reading, everyone gets to ask a question. They can be quiz-type questions that the asker knows the answer to, or real wondering questions; fact questions like “How many lepers came back to thank Jesus?” or application questions like “What can we learn from the thankful leper?” You know. It’s a joy to hear my young children’s sincere questions.
Oh! And I’d add that I’ve concluded that the most influential form of teaching is by example. It’s the hardest, too :).
I love these ideas– especially encouraging them to ask questions. Thank you for the feedback! And YES great reminder about teaching by example–so challenging!!
Thank you so much for your thoughts and ideas! My son is only 2 months old, but I’m filing this away (literally) for a time when I will be able to do things like catechism (which I had never thought of as anything other than “a Catholic thing”) and Bible story discussion. Even though my son is far from the point where he can memorize bible verses, etc, I make sure I’m constantly speaking the word of God to him, praying aloud with him around/holding him, and telling him about Jesus- I think even these things make a difference!
Absolutely–sounds like you are off to a beautiful start!
Thank you so much for this – I have a 15-month-old son and I am seeing more and more how he understands what I’m saying to him, even though he can’t communicate back yet. It’s so easy to be reactive… I love your ideas and honesty!
Great post! It can be so hard to balance exhortation with grace and honesty. Your last paragraph achieved the balance! It’s so great to hear how things could/should be, as well as hearing how nobody, including the exhorter, will achieve that perfectly. To leave the honesty out (honesty is too often thought of as being a bad example) really just discourages. But to avoid exhortation for the sake of being gracious achieves nothing for our growth. I really enjoy your writing and the heart that comes through in it.
Thank you Katy! The honesty part is my favorite because it frees me not to put up a front & to remember that I’m saved by grace! Really appreciate you writing this.
Jeanne, I found your blog a few months back in the midst of transitioning to stay-at-homeness and really appreciate your tone and how you share the practical working out of your faith. This post makes me excited for what I can do with my two kids, and I also wanted to share a couple ideas I’ve found. My husband and I sing hymns with my three year old, and it is amazing how many of these he knows the words for. We try to include songs we sing in church so that when we are in church, he can participate confidently.
Great idea! Especially to include songs from church because it encourages him to participate even as a young child. I love it–thanks for sharing.
As many others stated, I appreciate your words of wisdom and your honesty. I’ve been implementing several of the ideas you posted- a weekly Bible Story and memorizing the children’s catechism- and am praying they are planting seeds for the future. My girls are 4 and 2. As another person commented, we also work on hymns as a family. As part of my attempt at homeschool preschool we have a letter theme of the week so our BIble Story and Hymn to go along with our letter. If I get no other activities to do with that letter done in a week, I strive to make sure the Bible Story and Hymn are taught at least several days. We sing the ‘hymn of the week’ after each meal and practice old hymns as we feel like singing throughout the day. I am amazed at the depth of the meaning in many hymns and find myself benefiting from learning them. Yet I’ve been amazed at how many words my 2 year old has picked up. I know songs you learn as a child seem to stick with you for your lifetime so I pray that these words will bless them throughout their lives.
Again, thank you for sharing what’s on your heart with sincerity and honesty. I frequently find myself thinking that other’s weeks are running smoothly and that they are able to calmly train and instruct their children. Meanwhile I find myself losing my patience and get frustrated over my children’s repeated misbehavior. Your posts encourage me in my walk with the Lord and challenge me to raise my children in His ways.
Wow. This is why I love blogging–because I get to meet gifted and authentic moms! Thanks for this Lisa.
I love that you bring the calm down effect into everything. It gets crazy around here because my husband is our youth pastor, I help with our womens ministry, my children have AWANA, and we all help out at an after school program that is at our church. It takes so much take and then we feel drained because we have been giving to others instead of pouring into our own families.
W e sometimes forget to pour into our own families because we are serving others. This was a good reminder that we must make our children and their spiritual instruction our number one priority. Thank you for all you do!
I hear you!! My husband was also a youth pastor for 4 years and…I hear you!!
Just recently came across your blog, your posts have been great reminders for me (and have been relatable, thanks to your honesty!), especially this one! Things are busy, but you hit it home when you pointed out “this won’t happen automatically.”
I’m right there with you on the last paragraph…does it count that I really WANT to do better at this? 🙂 Anyway, I have been doing Priscilla Shirer’s Bible Study on Gideon. In the study she talks about what we need to do as parents to not lose the next generation spiritually. Like you, she confessed that she doesn’t always get the Bible story at bedtime done, but she did make a suggestion that I thought was great. As moms we are constantly running and in the car. Use that time wisely. That can be Bible memory verse time, you can listen to Bible Stories from Adventures in Odyssesy or Your Story Hour, put in children’s worship CD’s and learn not only the great hymns of the faith, but praise choruses as well. I found this suggestion VERY helpful and generally easy to implement. That way, not all of the pressure for a time of devotion is placed on the few short hours we are actually AT HOME and not sleeping. 🙂
I LOVE this car suggestion! I’m going to put it into practice!!
we listen to “seeds family worship” CDs in the car and the kids listen to them as they fall asleep at night also!!! they are straight scripture! I find myself listening to them in the car even when the kids aren’t!!! love your blog!!!
I love your blog! Thank you for inspiring us and for being so real. We have a 17-month-old. We taught her the sign for “Amen” and she’s been folding her hands and praying with us since she was about 10 months old… that was done by watching us and us encouraging/showing her how to fold her hands. Recently, I’ve been asking, “Who do we pray to?” and she can answer “Jesus” (when she wants to!). The most recent thing is singing songs and then reading books about the same stories. We read Noah’s Ark (Daymaker Inspirational board book) and we sing a song… “Who built the ark… Noah! Noah!” She sings along and puts 2 and 2 together with the book. It’s cool to see. And I know I need to continue to be deliberate in teaching her at home every day and not let it fall to the wayside of emotion or exhaustion.
Hi, I’ve been reading your blog for a little while and find it so encouraging! Your point about reactive teaching really spoke to me- sometimes that takes so much energy, but you’re right-it is so important. Also, this is my first time commenting, but after reading this I wanted to share about this book that was given to me and really, really encouraged me in teaching God’s word to my little ones. Its called Together Growing Appetites for God’s Word by Cary Ward (https://www.reviveourhearts.com/store/product/together-growing-appetites-god/). This book made me realize that even at very young ages, children can really benefit from hearing things straight from the Bible!
Thanks for the book suggestion–sounds great! I will put it on my list.