New International Version (NIV)
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
When you, as a Christian homeschooler, are asked about your primary reasons for choosing this path, how do you respond? There are many valid and wonderful reasons to commit to homeschooling, but most Christian home educators put faith and discipleship at the top of that list. My desire is to raise children who will grow to love and serve Christ. I pray daily that their hearts will remain soft and tender toward the Lord and that they will never become desensitized to the sin and evil in this world. There is nothing more important than that. Christian homeschoolers long to fulfill the command given to parents in Deuteronomy 6 and this command inspires us to continue doing what we do every day. I have certainly not been the perfect mother in this area -- or in any area for that matter -- but I always do my best. I believe that the most important way to fulfill the command of Deuteronomy 6 is do so within the context of every situation that arises in daily life, but I also believe that we must purposefully give our children a biblical foundation, beginning at a young age. I have some favorite resources to share when it comes to teaching the Bible to young children. Of course, the scriptures themselves are all that is really needed, but sometimes I find it helpful to use Bible studies, devotions, and other resources written especially for children. We have utilized various books and resources in our home, but my favorites are listed and discussed below.
1. My Favorite Resource: Leading Little Ones To God by Marian M. Schoolland
Other than the Bible itself, this one is my favorite Bible resource of all for young children. This book consists of short devotions geared toward ages 4 to 10. Each lesson includes a story, scripture, prayer, and song. The book is written in an engaging, conversational way. I like how the author didn't use a lot of fluff and frills in her book, but instead presented the basics of a life of faith in a concise, meaningful way that can be easily understood by young children. I have read this book with both of my daughters and I am currently going through it again with my son. I highly recommend it.
2. Three books by authors Susan Hunt and Richie Hunt: Big Truths For Little Kids, Discovering Jesus in Gensis, and Discovering Jesus In Exodus
I recommend these three books by Susan Hunt and Richie Hunt. All three are written from a Presbyterian perspective, but the books mostly cover basic principles and truths that would be applicable to Christians of various denominations. As someone who is not Presbyterian, the only chapter in any of the three books that I skipped over was the chapter about infant baptism in Big Truths For Little Kids. All of these books follow a fictional brother and sister named Caleb and Cassie. In Big Truths For Little Kids, Cassie and Caleb learn the catechism. Each chapter contains a few catechism questions and answers, an application story, discussion questions, and a scripture. Discovering Jesus in Genesis and Discovering Jesus in Exodus are a two-book series entitled Covenant Promises For Covenant Kids. In these books, Cassie and Caleb explore scriptural truths and learn about how every page of the Bible points to Jesus Christ. Each chapter contains a scripture, story, discussion questions, and a prayer.
3. A Good Children's Bible
Having a high-quality, well-written children's Bible has been essential in our home. My favorites are Egermeier's Bible Storybook and The Golden Children's Bible.
4. A Bible Memorization Plan
I believe in the power and usefulness of hiding God's Word in our hearts. We have used three different plans for doing this in our home.
My favorite resource for scripture memorization is the Bible Fact Pak, which is part of the Assemblies of God Junior Bible Quiz program. I do not belong to an Assemblies of God church, but the questions in this set are designed to teach basic Bible facts and most are not theologically-specific to the Assemblies of God. The direct quotation cards each have a scripture to memorize. The remaining cards ask a Bible fact question on one side and provide the answer on the other side. Memorizing these questions and answers, in addition to the direct quotation scriptures, gives children a very good foundation of "pegs" in their minds to add more information to as they go through life. My children have been involved in a homeschool co-op class that uses this resource, but it would be great to use exclusively at home too. The whole family would benefit from memorizing the information and scriptures on these cards.
My children have belonged to Awana clubs during most of their childhoods. I love the choice of scriptures used in Awana and the fact that the handbooks are self-paced. However, my preference is to memorize scriptures together as a family, as opposed to having each child memorizing different scriptures in different handbooks. For this reason, I have learned to view Awana as "the icing on the cake" and an addition to the scripture memory work that we do together at home. Awana is a terrific program, though, and many families use it as their primary scripture memory program.
The other family scripture memorization plan that we have used is the card file system recommended by the Simply Charlotte Mason website. The instructions for this system are found at http://simplycharlottemason.com/timesavers/memorysys/.
The key is to find a system that works for your family and then to implement that plan. There are many ways to memorize scripture; I have only shared the methods that our family has used.
5. Betty Lukens Flannel Board Set
When my children were younger (preschool and kindergarten), they loved it when I used my Betty Lukens felt set for Bible lessons. It was so fun and engaging! For around $20.00, the home worship set includes the figures and stories for 22 Bible lessons, as well as a tabletop flannel board. However, I must address the following hesitation that I have in recommending this item: Each of these figures must be cut out individually, which is both time-consuming and tedious. Although I wish that this set came with pre-cut figures, it was worth the time and effort for our family. My children have many fond memories of our flannel board Bible stories. If you are willing to spend the time cutting out the figures, this is a great and worthwhile item to have.