Back in July, I posted about my daughter’s endeavor to schedule not only play dates for her children but also Bible lesson dates. Here is an update from her about how things are going. Hopefully, it will serve as an encouragement for other moms to give this idea a try.
If you were to sit and observe us, you would see two mothers juggling babies and doing their best to get two very active toddlers to listen to Bible stories and remember important themes. After 15 years of Sunday school classroom experience, being mommy-as-teacher has proven to be my hardest role yet. The first week of our Bible school, all went well, because all was new. The second week—during the story of the Fall—unruly students were given a prolonged definition of sin using real life illustrations and Ephesians 6:1. Our two wigglers calmed down in the third week, but only after Cain murdered Abel. In the end, we have resorted to promising cookies after the lesson in exchange for listening ears. So far, it has worked.
After the story, we sing a few children’s praise songs using the drums, bells, and shakers we have at home. Then we go to the dining room table to color the workbook page and repeat and apply the lesson story and themes. A week’s worth of preparation comes down to 30 minutes of intensive teaching and discussion. Sometimes it’s tempting to wonder if the result is worth the effort.
But then consider this: After a hard lesson on Cain and Abel, I took David and Elizabeth for a walk to the local gas station for ice cream. While we admired cars and trucks along the way, I started asking David questions about the Bible story. To my surprise, he was able to correctly identify both brothers and what they did. From there, we were able to talk about sin, loving God, and the consequences of both. It wasn’t in-depth by any means, but it was the basic things that a three-year-old heart in the throes of rebellion needed to hear and understand.
Bringing the curriculum home has helped us to grow as parents and believers in at least four ways:
- Teaching at home has made us intentional teachers, not merely assenting participants. We no longer have the option of “letting the pros” do all the work. This is now our work as we prepare lessons every week and commit finances to securing the necessary resources to do it. More money and man-power investment also results in more intellectual and prayer investment.
- Teaching at home has given us a better opportunity to talk to our children about the truths of the Bible as we go about life. Since we are their teachers, we have a practical knowledge of what they are learning and can thus apply biblical themes in everyday situations more readily.
- Teaching at home has challenged us to begin sharing our home and ourselves with other believers in our community. Melissa is a mom I met at our local park last summer. Last winter, they came over for a playdate. She had some flannelgraph for a weekly Bible study for Ava, but was looking for a good children’s Bible. I had an extra Beginner’s Bible on the shelf and knowledge of a good curriculum. From a common goal and two children the same age has come shared effort, growing friendship, and genuine fellowship.
- Teaching at home has challenged us to begin sharing our hope with other families in our neighborhood. Right now we are a study consisting of two families and four children. However, we are always meeting new children and their parents as we play at the park. It is my prayer that God will grow our little Bible school to include others—including families that don’t yet know Him.
Teaching at home isn’t neat or easy, and can feel more discouraging than encouraging at times. However, it’s a command and a privilege, and we do not lose heart because we know the One of whom we teach. He can pierce toddler hearts with truth. He can enlarge small minds to grasp the greatness of His character. He can supply words and strength to tired moms. His Word never returns void, and so we undertake the work in His strength, praying that in His power He will bring about a harvest exceeding our ability to sow, to the praise of His glory and grace.
(“Bringing It Home: The Challenge and Blessing of Home Bible School,” copyright © 2014 by Sarah House)