I received an email asking how to know what her young boy (grade 2) was capable of doing when it comes to Bible Study. I share my answer here:
What do you expect of him in other areas of study? Our expectations need to be the same. If you expect him to listen and give a narration, use those skills in Bible Study too. If you expect him to look up new words in a dictionary use Bible dictionaries too, or other reference books like you would an encyclopedia. I think we do our kids a disservice by pushing Bible study skills onto them before their study skills are developed – reading, sequencing, keywords, copywork etc all are study skills. They can learn these doing Bible study or they learn then and then apply them to more independent Bible study.
I believe in spending the young years in establishing His Story – God’s involvement in His people’s lives (Old and New Testament) In establishing who Jesus was/is. I also believe that we need to do this with our children – that they start to have a heart for God and God’s Word as they see us interacting with God and His Word. It is a relationship thing – we disciple our children in the ways of God. It is from this position that they will develop a stronger individual relationship which will then drive them to deeper and personal study.
What do we do for Bible Study? We have quite a varied approach – but for my youngest who is 9 but has the reading/study skills of a 5-6yo we do –
Establishing Personal Devotions – I read a Children’s Bible story to him, and we talk about personal application, take notes (I write them for him) and pray together.
Family Devotions – We sit around the table, read 4-6 verse from a chosen Book of the Bible, and then each child, starting from the youngest, gives a narration. Daniel (9yo) gives the facts of what he has heard, the older children add to this, building up to the older ones who give personal application and anything else they want to share on what they have heard. We discuss it – which Daniel joins in or listens (depending on how theological we get!) We then pray together – with the idea that the kids are learning to pray in a group, to jump in and pray for what is on their heart, etc.
Bible Study– At the moment we are doing a topical study with Daniel and Nomi (11yo). Once again we read a Bible story or passage, discuss it and do a craft or lapbooking activity after wards. This is where I incorporate the language arts / study skills they are learning into the Bible Study.
So my encouragement is, regardless of the age of your children, match your Bible Study with their academic progress, but also keep in mind that children can talk about truths a long time before they can write about them.