Why Teach Young Children the Bible?
Once some NASA scientists were asked, "What is the moon made of? Just say the very first thing that comes to your mind." They all smiled and said, "Green cheese!" Their first response was something they were told when they were little kids.
Young children are like sponges. Their whole job in life is to take information in. It is important as parents and teachers, that we understand the precious opportunity we have to teach our young children to know and to love God. There are at least two examples in the Bible that demonstrate this.
Consider the story of baby Moses in Exodus 2:1-10. His mother had him for a little while at a very young age and then had to give him to Pharaoh's daughter. She taught him while she had the opportunity. Let's use our imagination for a moment. She may have said something like, "My precious little Moses, soon you will no longer live here. But I want you to know God, the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is my God and I want Him to be your God, too. Remember, He will always use His power to help you. He will be your safe place in trouble. Stay in the secret place He has for you. Remember, with every step you take, His angels are watching out for you." Even though Moses was taught in all the wisdom of Egypt, he still followed the faith of his mother. Think about how powerful his mother's influence was over her young child, considering how short her opportunity was.
Now, let's look at the story of little Samuel in 1 Samuel 1:9-28. His mother, Hannah, kept him with her until he was weaned. These few years were the only time she had with him. Then, as she had promised the Lord, she brought him to the House of the Lord while he was young. From then on, she only saw him once a year. It was his mother's faith and teaching that influenced this mighty prophet.
Parents and teachers, your little children are ready and waiting to hear about God from you. It is an opportunity for all of us to study the Bible for ourselves, so that we are ready to teach them. It is an opportunity to spend time in prayer, drawing close to God, so that we can share with them our first hand knowledge of Him.
What to Teach Young Children From the Bible
Young children can be taught the same Bible truths we adults hold dear, just in smaller pieces. Here is an illustration. Think about what you feed your little children. You give them the same food you eat except in smaller quantities and cut up into smaller pieces (or even blended). Now with the Bible, we can do the same thing. For example, the Bible teaches that Jesus is interceding for us in heaven right now (see Romans 8:34). Normally, we would think this is too complicated for young children to understand. But they can easily understand if you tell them, "Boys and girls, did you know that Jesus is talking to God about you right now?" In your Bible lesson, all your stories, crafts and activities can reenforce this truth over and over. As an adult, they may never remember when they learned, "Jesus is talking to God about me right now." But this will be the first thing that comes to mind when they need it most.
Young children need to learn about the character of God, before they learn about their responsibility to God. Once they understand His character, they will want to respond to Him with all their hearts. For example, when they understand that God is love, and that He loves them, they will respond to Him in love. 1 John 4:19 says, "We love Him because He first loved us" (NKJV). Good teaching material for young children will be full of truths about the goodness and love of God.
How to Teach Young Children the Bible
Young children learn by repetition and in small pieces (see Isaiah 28:9-10). Repeat one simple Bible truth in every activity during a lesson. Many short activities are better than a few long activities. Vary type of activities, such as stories then crafts. Also, vary location of activities, such as at a table, on the floor, and in chairs.
The gateway to a young child's heart is through the five senses. The goal is to introduce the Bible through their outward person to their heart. They need to hear the Bible taught because, ". . . faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17 NKJV). Visual images will command a child's attention. Touch conveys love and comfort. Something that tastes good will satisfy their hunger and thirst. Use of a pleasant scent is an unusual and effective way to demonstrate a verbal message.
The most wonderful part about teaching the Bible to young children is that we have a great and mighty Helper, the Holy Spirit. He will bear witness to the Bible truths you teach. He will gently speak to the hearts of your children.
Teaching preschoolers is challenging and it is FUN! Children learn in so many different ways. Realize that each child is different, and don't expect them to all sit down for an hour without moving. It won't happen. Love is the number one important ingredient in teaching them. They will know that you love them.
When telling a story be enthusiastic - no monotones with children. Use your imagination and live the story with them as you tell it. DO NOT READ IT DIRECTLY FROM A PAPER. BORING! As you tell a story, look at your children. You will see if you have caught their attention. They want to know that you care.
Crafts are a wonderful way to teach children. It gives them an opportunity to do something with what you have just taught them. Whether it is stringing beads for a necklace, or coloring a picture, what they do will reinforce what you have said.