Studying the Bible as a Family looks different in different seasons of family life. It will depend on the time you have and the ages of your children. I can only give you a glimpse into what worked for us, for you to start to think about what could work for you.
Bible study in our family was a priority and as a homeschooling family we had the time to dedicate to Bible study. Different families will arrange their time and activities differently and we need to be careful not to judge ourselves as lacking or less then because someone else does more – or seems to do it better. I share what worked for us to help you get a vision and working plan for your family.
I am thankful for “Heart of Wisdom” and their teaching approach as this book highly influenced our family Bible study habits.
Here are the keys that made Bible study for kids work for us:
- We read from a Chronological, Narrated Bible (this is God’s Story and we read it like a story though it is truth)
- We read for as long as was right for our family on any given day. (This varies of course)
- Before we started each day’s story we verbally reviewed yesterday’s lesson.
- Kids kept their hands busy while I read. During the reading the children worked on a Notebook page, colouring sheet, drawing etc as a review of yesterday’s lesson. I actually found they listened better with doing something with their hands – so it wasn’t really a distraction.
- Everyone gave an Oral Narration – starting from the youngest to the oldest. This way the oldest could add the depth they needed to without confusing the youngest.
- We discussed questions, comments and observations that come out of the Narrations
- This often lead to some research for the older ones
- Our time together concluded when everyone had a Research and Writing assignment chosen for the day’s lesson. (this is how we incorporated language arts into our Bible study and in doing so reduced busy work later in the day.)
At sometime kids can start to do Bible study on their own, but I found great benefit in still staying in touch with what they are learning – and even having seasons where I still teach Bible study to my highschool students as they benefited from the heart to heart time together.
A homeschool note: Bible study was our top priority and if that is all we achieved in a day I was happy with that. As I said, Language Arts was incorporated with Bible study so reality is that box was ticked too – but if we had a crazy day or season going on – sitting together around God’s word was enough of a focus for the day for formal learning.
How to Plan for Family Bible Study
I constantly tossed between planning lessons and letting the lessons come from the children’s hearts as they narrage – or talk about a passage.
When I planned a lesson I ran the risk of not making time to discuss the thing that touched their heart. Considering that the Word of God is alive and we “hear” Him each time we read the Bible, I didn’t really want to miss what the children heard just because I had a lesson planned.
Alternatively, the danger of going with the flow – discussing things as they came up, is that I can feel unprepared and wonder if I am going to “teach” the right things.
The answer for me was to see a developmental progression in the children.
- Initially they need Knowledge – they need the stories of the Bible
- Then they need Understanding – they start to connect things that they are hearing with other things they know. They connect the dots.
- Then they need Wisdom – they start to apply their knowledge.
I don’t like to prescribe ages to these phases as that immediately removes the freedom to grow as an individual and yet I have found my children progress at these general ages:
- Knowledge (upto 8)
- Knowledge & Understanding (9-12)
- Knowledge, Understanding, Wisdom (13 and beyond)
Having these phases in my mind I can plan what my objectives are for each time we sit down for Family Bible Study. When I listen to the narrations I am listening for their collecting the facts, or for them to be connecting facts, or for them to be applying it to their world.
And admittedly, even though I see these general growth categories I also know that my children can and have grasped wisdom at a much younger age.
I generally had one thought that I wanted each of my children to grasp. If they heard something different, and it came up in their Narration, I would run with that idea. This usually meant we hit the study tools together – learning together – because I wasn’t prepared with that particular idea/truth. If they didn’t have a personal insight that we dug into I was prepared with my one thought/objective that I presented to them in our discussion. More often than not though my objectives lined up with what they heard which lead to a great family discussion / lesson.
My Own Bible Study in Preparation
Nothing can escape the fact that for me to teach my children I need to know the subject. In no other subject is this so pivotal than in Bible Study. I must know my Bible. If I don’t – I must be prepared to learn.
Deut 6:4-9 Is one of the Bible passages that has shaped how we have parented our kids.
Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these twords that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children … Deut 4:4-7b The Bible verses goes on to talk about when and how we do this. But in these first few verses we get the key.
God’s word needs to be in my heart first;
then we teach them diligently to our kids.
This makes filling my heart and mind with God’s word – regardless of what I want to teach my kids through the day as my priority. Though it is hard to find time to have your Quiet Time when your kids are young, it can happen, and it needs to happen if we are to be in a place where we can teach our kids.
My Quiet Time was for me. It had nothing to do with the lessons I wanted to teach my kids. If I want to tell my kids that being a Christian is a personal relationship with Jesus, that Jesus is with me, that he sent his Spirit to teach, help and guide – then I need to know that for myself first. It needs to be real to me. So I used resources that strengthened my relationship with Jesus: me, as a woman, as a Christian, not me as a mum.
But I did have to find time to prepare our Family Bible Study. I would spend at least one hour a week in preparation for our Bible study times. In this time I would read the passages that we were reading, and as I dug into it myself, I would find 3-4 objectives (one for each day). I would often think about a leading question that could help each child start to think about that objective.
This was really not much different than leading an adults Bible study – but I was considering the age, skills and faith of each of my children. If you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with this way of studying and talking about the Bible then I can suggest you look for Sunday school material that can help you teach your children – but the more you do it the more comfortable you will be engaging your kids together reading God’s word.
Teaching our Children our Christian Faith: The heart of every Christian parent is to have their children walk with Jesus. We need to learn how to disciple our children in the faith.
These 3 Skills will Help your Child’s Daily Time with God: When we teach our children these three skills we set them up to be able to have a daily time with God, eventually on their own.