Teaching kids the Bible sounds like a daunting task. After all, the Bible is a really big book and it warrants a lifetime of study. Sometimes, in our apprehension, we may avoid teaching our kids the Bible at all.
It’s a mistake to turn from the clear Scriptural command (Psalm 78:1-8) to teach the Bible to our kids just because it seems overwhelming.
You can teach your children the Bible. You can help them recognize the overarching themes of God’s character and sovereignty, man’s sinful nature and separation from God, God’s plan for salvation, Christ’s sacrificial atonement for our sins, and our relationship with the King of the Universe. You can do this. It will require some faithfulness on your part, but there are tools available for you to use, like Bible Road Trip™–which will take your kids through the Bible in just three years at a level they can understand.
I have a few tips that will equip you to teach your kids the Bible in a clear, concise way.
Teaching Kids the Bible: Tips for Success
1) Use the Bible
God’s word never returns void. (Isaiah 55:10-11)
There are some wonderful supplemental resources available that will help you explain biblical history and theology to your kids. You can use fun crafts, lapbooks, and notebooking to deepen your child’s understanding of Scripture. There are videos that will help your kids remember Bible stories and biblical themes. The tools we have available to teach kids the Bible are well produced and exciting.
However, it is most important that you teach kids the Bible using the Bible. They need to read the word of God. Tools are wonderful, but if they don’t lead you and your children to the Bible–if they aren’t used in addition to reading God’s word, they are nothing more than a distraction from the Scripture God has commanded us to teach to our children.
2) Use a Reading Plan
When you’re reading the Bible with your kids, it’s really helpful to use a reading plan. Taking your kids through the Bible from beginning to end makes the themes of Scripture much clearer. Another option is to begin by reading the New Testament with your kids, then read the entire Bible beginning in Genesis and ending in Revelation. That’s another great way to teach your kids the Bible.
Just because you’re reading the actual Bible with your children, it’s not always advisable to read every chapter. There are some parts of the Old Testament that are very difficult for young children. It’s ok to skip some parts, and add them into your reading as your children get older. By the time your kids are in high school, they should read the entire Bible.
3) Ask Questions
Have you ever noticed that Jesus often taught by asking questions? Asking questions is a great way to get our kids actively involved in learning through critical thinking and recall.
After each chapter you read in the Bible, take time to ask your children questions about what they’ve just read. This will help them both remember their reading, and dig deeper as they consider what they’ve just learned about God and the gospel.
4) Read Literally–Except When You Don’t
It’s important to understand the genre you are reading in the Bible. Books that are historical, law, and the gospels are true accounts of historical events. That means that when we read that God parted the Red Sea, Jesus turned water into wine, or a giant fish swallowed Jonah, we can tell our children with great confidence that those events actually occurred.
Sometimes, though, God uses poetic language, apocalyptic imagery, sarcasm, or figures of speech to convey his point through the writers of Scripture. If you struggle with identifying these areas, having a good study Bible will help. You’ll want to learn the genre each book is written in as well. For instance, the book of Daniel is a book of prophecy. In it, we learn about historical events, and we also learn of Daniel’s apocalyptic visions which are highly symbolic. We’ll talk more about genre and context in tip #5.
5) Learn about Context
Biblical context is important. Understanding factual information about history and people groups will help your child process what they read in the Bible. It’s also important to discuss information about each book of the Bible, like the genre, the writer, and the major themes. Tools about the Bible become very helpful when you are studying context.
It’s also important to read Scripture in the light of other Scripture. The Holy Spirit did not inspire any writer of the Bible to write in opposition to anything else in Scripture. All of the Bible agrees with itself. It’s important to recognize this fact. Having a working knowledge of the Bible can prevent you from interpreting Scripture wrongly.
Scholars spend their entire lives studying the Bible and interpreting Scripture in the light of the rest of Scripture. Again, having a soundly written study Bible can help you lead your child well when you reach a tricky part of the Bible. Never be afraid to tell your child that you don’t know the answer to their question and you will need to get back to them after you’ve done some research. Your family will appreciate your intellectual honesty. GotQuestions.org is a nice place to search for answers if you’re stuck.
6) Memorize Scripture
Joshua 1:8 (ESV) says:
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
One of the best ways to help your child meditate on Scripture day and night is to have them memorize Bible verses. Again, God’s word never returns void. When your children memorize Scripture, they hide it in their hearts so they might not sin against the Lord. (Psalm 119:11) Memorizing Bible verses with your child is a lifelong gift you can give them, starting today.
7) Incorporate Fun Projects
Lastly, if you’re using the Bible to teach the Bible, you’re consistently reading and discussing Scripture with your children, and you’re studying the Bible and its context with your kids, then using fun projects can be a wonderful way to reinforce what they’ve learned. Children are concrete thinkers, and having hands-on ways to explore Scripture can help them internalize truth in new and interesting ways. Your fun projects can include notebooking, lapbooking, crafts, games, object lessons, and more.
Teaching kids the Bible is doable, rewarding, and an act of obedience to our God. Not only can you teach your kids the Bible, you can enjoy and treasure the hours you spend doing so.
Danika Cooley is a homeschooling mother of four and a grandmother. She works as a children’s author and curriculum developer. Her mission is to equip parents to teach the Bible and Christian history to their kids. You can find her blog at ThinkingKidsBlog.org and her books and products at ThinkingKidsPress.com.