Hmmm. This sure is a long post for a topic like “Simplifying.” If you’ll bear with me, I hope I can say some things that will be helpful to you.
I wrote my Bible studies to GROW with my children. That’s why they seem quite long. If you’re teaching very young (lower elementary or toddler-aged) children, or if you have children of different ages/ grade levels (like I do), then you’ll have to simplify my Bible studies for those younger kids. I just thought I’d write a little bit about what works for me.
My children are all 8 years old or younger, so they do not do independent study yet. We read the stories out loud together. We do the assigned Bible reading and then the discussion section of each study.
A sample lesson, then, might look like this: click here
Another option is to break down one study over several days. You can see how I do this on my post about the five-day study format.
I think it’s better for my children to get a little bit of information and really absorb it, rather than big chunks of information and facts. With a Bible passage and, perhaps, some application lesson, the child has time to go through the day and “chew on it”, see examples in her world, and make connections with other things she’s reading.
How wonderful it is to sit down for a bedtime story and realize that the character in the story has a problem with anger, which we just read about in today’s Bible lesson! There’s the connection that you can point out to your child. There’s where the application hits home.
In Isaiah 28:10, it is says that a child learns “precept upon precept, line upon line….here a little, there a little.”
That being said, there’s a time when children are ready for more and would enjoy a more challenging study. When a child says (usually with a sigh), “But I already know this story!” then it’s time to add other study tools – reading parallel passages, application of the story, perhaps journaling about what the story meant to her. It’s time to teach your child that it’s not “just a story,” but that it effects our lives and eternal destiny. There’s more information on this in my page, Truly Benefitting From Bible Study.
Again, narration helps with this. When their narrations are missing key information, they’ve probably been overloaded. When they’re very fidgety and bored with a study, it may be too simple for them (see below for more about this).
Finally, a note on behavior during studies. There are many times when my kids don’t want to sit down for their lessons. During Bible studies, I expect my children to be still and listen. I don’t mind a little movement (usually I read our Bible studies at the breakfast table, so we’re all crunching and sipping anyway), and I don’t mind them interrupting with comments or questions (as long as it’s about the study).
If they fidget so much that it’s distracting others and they’re obviously not listening to the study… I start over. I say, “I’m afraid you’re not hearing me, so we’ll have to go over this again.” I’ve only had to do that a few times, and I waited until I had already gotten to the end of the study to do it, so that it really got the point across: sit still or you’ll have to listen to Mom do this all over again!
If kids just won’t sit still for multiple Bible study sessions, it may be that…
- they’re not used to the format and just need time to adjust. If you’ve never done daily Bible studies with your kids before, they need to adjust to this. I would recommend just reading the Bible passage and asking them to narrate, then gradually add discussion as they become used to your expectations.
- the study is too easy. They’re bored with the material. You’ll need to add more of the application questions, journaling, etc., that I mentioned before.
- you have a visual/kinesthetic learner who might benefit from material they can see and touch. Look to my activities page and see what else you can add to studies to help them.
It doesn’t make any sense to force a child to sit down and do a “standard” Bible study every day. For example, you might just do a Bible lesson every other day, alternating with sessions when you sing hymns or do a hands-on activity. You can see more tips on scheduling on this page.
Remember, you should be enjoying the studies too! I confess that sometimes I just feel “burnt out” with using the same format every day. Sometimes I need a different format or other activities so that I can feel “revived” as well. As long as there is some interaction with Scripture every day, you are helping your children build a lifelong pursuit of God’s Word.
Simplicity is key. Precept upon precept, line by line.