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Teaching our Children about God

     One of the things we have learned in teaching our children is how differently each one learns and thinks! Learning Can Be Fun! When we began teaching our first daughter, Abigail, about Jesus, she loved Bible stories. She started showing an interest when she was two years old. We read the stories over and over. We bought DVD’s about the bible stories. We bought DVD’s of children singing songs about the Bible stories and she memorized the songs. She liked the songs so much that we bought CD’s for the car. When she was three, we began acting out the stories in skits and making crafts about the stories. At one point, we had four children’s Bibles.

     She focused on the people in the stories (such as Adam and Eve, Noah, King David, Daniel, Jesus, and the disciples, etc.) and learned the concepts of salvation, forgiveness, obedience, and thankfulness by what the people in the Bible did (or didn’t do!). She loved the DVD’s so much, she asked to watch them everyday. No Kiddie Stuff for This One! When our second daughter, Rachel, came along, we quickly realized that she had no interest in bible stories.

     We tried the same things and even had her older sister involved who was more than happy to do our skits and crafts again. But Rachel got bored easily and did not like the DVD’s that her sister loved (and still does even not that she is now eight years old). We became so discouraged. We kept teaching and hoped that she would just absorb some of it. When she was four, we tried a different approach by focusing on concepts like salvation and thankfulness without the Bible characters.

     We would talk about what God said about those things in the Bible and then how it looked in her life that day. Still we weren’t seeing her enjoy learning. The only thing we noticed was that she would pick up our Bibles instead of her children’s Bibles. She would carefully flip through the pages pretending to read by placing her finger under the words. She asked to take a Bible into her bed for naps and bedtime. But she couldn’t read or tell us anything about any of the Bible stories we read.

      If we showed her pictures of a Bible story, she had no idea what the picture was about even if we had just read the story! She didn’t retain anything about anyone in the Bible – she couldn’t tell us who Noah was or King David.She knew Jesus died on a cross for our sins but had no concept about the disciples or the events leading up to His crucifixion. She could tell us that God raised Him from the dead and that he was now in Heaven with God. Well at least she retained the most important concept! But still, we were perplexed.

     Voila!! A Breakthrough in Learning Styles! One day, we stumbled on something she liked. We had to “ramp up” our teaching for Abigail. She was now eight and Rachel was five. Each week my husband gave Abigail an index card with a memory verse and asked her to write it. It wasn’t tied to any story. It was just a simple verse. Then he began reading the Bible stories in chronological order and after each major story, he asked them to draw a picture. Rachel just sat there as usual looking bored and said she didn’t want to draw any pictures.

      Abigail could draw the whole story and loved it. When it came time for Abigail to write the verse in her notebook, Rachel asked if I could copy the verse in all capital letters so she could “write” it too. We had been working on writing her alphabet and she could write the alphabet in capital letters. So, I wrote the verse in all capitals on her own index card and gave it to her. A few minutes later, I heard my husband say in a startled voice, “Wow, Rachel, that is great! Mommy come look; she did this all by herself!” I walked over and discovered Rachel had written the entire memory verse without help. Now, there weren’t any spaces between the words but all the letters were there. Then my husband proudly asked her to repeat it to him and she did! In fact, she learned it quicker than her sister.

      The next day, she still knew it. He gave the girls a different verse each week to memorize. Every week, they recite verses from all the previous week's in addition to the new one for that week. Rachel began to excel and at age five can recite memory verses better than her eight-year-old sister. Not only that, she understands what each verse means. No fancy pictures, no children’s Bibles, no Bible stories, no songs to go with it. Just an index card, a pencil, and notebook are what it took.

     Some Like Action! Our son, Gideon, is now three. He cannot sit through a Bible story.

      Although, he, like Abigail, loves the Bible stories on DVD’s and loves the DVD’s with children singing songs about the Bible stories. He too has memorized the songs. I began to realize the DVD’s he is drawn to are all the Bible story DVD’s that have action versus the DVD’s that just retell the Bible story with cartoon animation. The sing-along DVD’s have children that are actually doing something while they sing versus just singing the words. Remember It’s Possible! I share our three examples to illustrate how differently each child learns. So if you are struggling with teaching your children the things of God, be encouraged. When you sit down to teach your family, if some of the kids seem to “tune out” it doesn’t mean they are rebellious. (We were beginning to wonder ourselves!). It wasn’t that Rachel finally “came around.” She was willing the whole time. We just need to discover what reaches each child best and make sure to include something for everyone.

Copyright © 2008-2015 Dorena DellaVecchio, Ph.D.

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