Let's be honest now, in the busyness of Sunday mornings, sometimes our kids’ church crafts and colorings get dropped on the floor of the minivan after church never to be seen again! But how thankful are you when the church invests so much creativity into our kids?
It is a gift when the church partners with us as parents to provide us with tools to teach our children the overall, big picture of God's Word. I didn't have a solid understanding of the timeline of the Bible until I was an adult (who knew that Joseph’s great-great-great grandkids became the slaves that God rescued through Moses?!?) and how incredible that even our youngest children are presented with this opportunity.
Create the “Pegs” on which to Hang Bible Stories
I homeschool my three boys using a classical model homeschooling curriculum called Classical Conversations. The focus is on memorizing facts, big picture stories, and history timelines, and then allowing children to dig deeper into that memorized knowledge when they are older and better able to dissect complicated information. This is how we will teach our children the big picture of the Bible, picking out significant events from the beginning of time until Revelation.
Our church is currently in a series that is helping us zoom out and see the themes and threads throughout Scripture. Long Story Short is the perfect opportunity to help our kids see God’s big story! Helping our kids to memorize the big picture of the story God has written over time will give them pegs on which to hang all other scripture references they read when they are older. They'll be able to place all scripture within the context of the big picture. It is also a quick way for our children to tell God's big story in a quick, concise, and simple way.
Start with the Basics
As you dive into teaching your kids God’s big story, make sure you start with the basics. Get a real, physical Bible and show them the Old and New Testament. Teach them how many authors contributed and how long it took to write the Bible. Have them learn the books of the Bible to help them have a basic understanding and then make a timeline on the wall to layer in the prophets with the story of Israel. Who were the 12 disciples and why did Paul write letters to churches?
Having something committed to memory will come back and help your child better understand a subject when he is studying it further in later years. My nine year old memorized the order and dates of each US president when he was four years old. Recently, he asked at the dinner table, when our Capitol Hill row house was built. I told him 1908 and I saw his little brain spinning and a few moments later, "Ok so Teddy Roosevelt was president when our house was built." His memorization facts helped him place our house in history and understand what the city looked like at that time. How valuable will it be when our kids can place stories of the Bible into the right spot in history?!
Make it Fun
Since we memorize a lot for school, we have a lot of different ways to make it fun and easy. If you are going to attempt some memory work, it is so important to make it fun! Here are some ideas to help take the boring out of memorizing:
1. Much of our schoolwork is set to music. If I don't have music, I have my boys slap a simple beat on their knees while seated and we speak a poem to the beat. Making a little poem rap is way more fun than simply saying words.
2. Find a way to reward them! Make small goals and offer a little treat when they complete the memory work.
3. We make it a part of our family rhythm. Pick a time of day, whether it be at breakfast, dinner or bedtime and practice daily. It’s the repetition that makes it stick!
4. We involve others in our success! In our homeschooling, we meet weekly with other families to showcase what we have worked on at home. Consider making a video to send to grandparents each week with your kid’s progress. Let others celebrate their accomplishments too!
5. Speaking of involving others, we love to challenge other families to join us! Create some friendly competition to help motivate your kids to make it to the end.
And remember, memorizing something that is long might seem overwhelming for you, but keep that to yourself! Kids spongy brains are able to quickly and permanently absorb more information than we think possible. And kids pick up on your doubt just like they feed off your confidence in them. "Come on sweetheart, Mommy knows you can do this. Let's do a rap! And then we'll make a memory game!"
So parents, have fun with this! Don't let this one slip off the radar. And find a way keep your tools somewhere special where your kids can grab them for a quick review in years to come.
Sarah is a wife to her college sweetheart, homeschooling mother by day, Suzuki violin teacher by afternoon, and violin performer by evenings and weekends. Fourteen years living in DC has her a native and she is deeply involved in all things Capitol Hill.