I’m a Christian of the evangelical, born again, every-Sunday-and-Wednesday-night-go-to-church sort. My faith affects the way I live my life, the places I go, the things I do, and the stuff I read and watch and listen to and wear.
What the Bible says is important to me. I believe it is the inerrant Word of God. It is perfect. It is holy. It is everlasting.
And if I believe all of that, really believe it, then it stands to reason that I would want my children to believe the same. And if I want them to believe it and understand it, I have to make an effort to teach them about it, right?
Believe me, I understand that the pressures on homeschooling parents are pretty intense sometimes. It’s tough being different, making educational choices so far removed from societal norms. We worry what family and neighbors think about our choice. We worry if our kids are on level with others their age. Are we challenging them enough academically? Should we make curriculum changes? Would anybody question their social skills? How on earth do we get the housework done and the laundry folded and every mouth fed when we have all this important educating to do?
And sometimes we can get so busy with lesson plans and household chores and trying to meet all the educational requirements and physical needs of our family that we end up neglecting our children’s spiritual needs.
But, honestly, if I raise National Spelling and Geography Bee winners who speak Greek and Latin and can do college-level math in the 4th grade and are bright and friendly and socially adept in every way and the entire time maintain a house and dinner table to rival Martha Stewart’s, and yet I neglect to nurture my children’s souls, then I have failed miserably.
I’ll never forget the mistake I made during my very first homeschooling experiment. I was teaching my second daughter preschool, (and there were a lot of things I did wrong that year and the year that followed. Refer to The Road that Led to Homeschool Part 4, for some of that story,) but one of the worst things was focusing so desperately on catching my daughter up academically that I felt free to neglect Bible teaching whenever I was pressed for time or didn’t feel I had the patience to make it through that and phonics and math.
Until, that is, one morning when I was rushing us into her studies, (because, let’s be honest, I didn’t want to do this stuff anyway and I felt like if she would just hurry up and grasp what other kids her age were grasping we could be done with it and I could quit this ridiculous attempt at homeschooling,) and we bypassed the little Bible story that was sometimes, when I felt like it, the start of her school activities, and she stopped me.
“But mama,” she said, “you forgot Jesus.”
Sometimes kids have a way of saying things that put you in your proper place, and that certainly did. Long story short, when I learned to incorporate God and His word into my school day, whether it seemed we had time for it or not, I found that every part of the day went better. I was more patient. The kids were more focused. Everything didn’t necessarily go perfectly, but things were generally better when I made certain my focus was where it needed to be.
So…we don’t skip Bible. Ever. Everything I will ever teach them will be built on God and His word, so if nothing else gets done in our school day, Bible does. And let me add that it’s done in addition to our family worship, which is usually led by my husband in the evenings. So we always do Bible and we always do it first.
There are some wonderful Bible curricula available out there and a lot of people are more comfortable using something structured like that. Personally, I’d rather just do it myself, but whether you purchase a curriculum or create your own, the important thing is just making sure it gets done!
So what do we do in Bible? Well it isn’t complicated. I change things up a little from time to time, and adjustments will be made as my kids get older, of course, but there are a few constants. For one, we work on memorizing scripture daily. Scripture memorization isn’t nearly as hard as people sometimes make it out to be. Repetition is the key. We’ll work on a chapter or scripture passage every day, adding a verse or two every few days as I see they’re getting the hang of it.
And there’s no rush! We take as little or as much time on a passage as we need to ensure the kids are getting it! And may I say I prefer memorizing passages of scripture rather than individual verses. I think it makes it easier to recall them later and certainly makes it easier to review them regularly, which is something we do at least once a week so that scripture we’ve learned in the past isn’t forgotten.
We’ve also been memorizing the books of the Bible. We’ve finished the New Testament and are halfway through the Old. When my children have that down, we’ll probably begin work on things like the 12 disciples, the fruits of the spirit, the names of God, etc.–anything to familiarize them better with the Bible or the teachings within in. These are things we’ll also review from time to time as well, just to keep them fresh in our memories.
After we’ve worked on scripture memorization and books of the Bible, we may do a couple of things. Sometimes I simply read scripture and we discuss it. It could be a random passage I choose or I could have a certain issue I need to address, (like obedience to parents or loving one another –one of the greatest blessings of homeschooling is being able to deal with character issues very directly,) and so I select scriptures that deal with that particular issue.
Other days I read from Egermeier’s Bible Story Book. My copy was my husband’s great-grandmother’s, but the book is still in publication. I don’t necessarily love the way every story is told, but I appreciate the delicate handling of some of the more difficult stories, stories that are a little hard to present to children. But I think I’ve been mostly impressed by the number of stories! Some of the Bible story books I’ve tried include only the most familiar Bible stories. But my kids have heard the story of David and Goliath a million times! I’d like for them to hear more obscure stories from time to time. I appreciate that Egermeier’s provides that.
While we haven’t done it more recently, primarily because we often do our Bible while my kids are having breakfast, in the past I’ve allowed the kids to do crafts or coloring sheets during Bible. For those activities, DLTK was usually my go-to spot for free printables, though there are hosts of other sites with Bible-related materials available. Check it out here: http://dltk-bible.com/.
I also had my oldest daughter read The Case for Christ–Student Edition by Lee Strobel. His books, The Case for Faith and The Case for a Creator are also on the agenda and eventually I’d like to use them as part of our Bible curriculum with all of my children. They are excellent sources for teaching apologetics, or the defense of the Christian faith. Though the student edition is aimed more at middle and high schoolers, there is a version written for smaller children as well. I haven’t seen it or used it personally, but I love Lee Strobel’s books enough to recommend it anyway. The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith are two of my favorite books ever! I’m quite confident the kids’ versions would be very useful in Bible study with younger children.
Altogether, our Bible time takes approximately 20-30 minutes every morning, from start to finish. That’s it! If a discussion goes longer, that’s great, but I don’t feel pressed to do an hour and a half of Bible study before we move on to anything else, nor do I rush to cut it off by a certain time should it go longer! The important thing, I feel, is incorporating the Bible into our day at the start of the day, building into my children the sense that God comes first and everything else is built upon Him.
I want my kids to read well and write well and be able to do fractions and know their American history, but I want them to know Jesus most of all. If I can train them to know and value God and His word now, I may just build into them a habit they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. If I can succeed at that, then there will be no question–our homeschooling journey will have been a success!