“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”
In our homeschool, teaching God’s Word to our children is our core subject – more important than math and writing. Our primary purpose in teaching our children to read is to equip them to read the most important book they will ever read – the Bible. We take turns reading verses aloud together during family Bible times, and all the readers get to participate. Miriam (5) is the newest reader-to-be, and she told me just the other day, “Soon I’ll be reading, and I’ll be able to read the Bible with everybody!”
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
— 2 Timothy 3:16-17
The Main Textbook
The Bible — Naturally, the most important book – and all you really need – is a copy of God’s Word!
- Read it everyday. We read a chapter of Proverbs aloud every day, corresponding to the date of the month. We also use a one-year reading plan similar to this one – our younger readers can keep up with it pretty well, or will just read a few sections of it. Another plan to consider is the Bible In 90 Days – which I just used for the first time to read straight through in 80 days.
- Memorization. Children memorize everything quickly when they are young, so we place a high priority of the memorization of Scripture. We have found that using Scripture for handwriting copywork is very effective. We also use this memory box system to keep our memory verses organized and in constant review. It takes only 10 minutes at breakfast time or at the beginning of our sit-down school time.
- Family Bible time. My husband will either work through a section of Scripture or another Bible study book, and discuss with the family. A couple of his favorite resources to use during these times are Strong’s Concordance and Matthew Henry’s Commentary.
- Regular church attendance is also a standard in our home. We are blessed with a church that places a high priority on the faithful preaching of God’s Word. Our pastors are available for questions we might have on Scripture. Throughout the week we often discuss the sermon and refer back to it. It is amazing to us how God weaves our life’s events and other study of His Word together with what He tells us on Sunday through the sermons.
Other Resources We Use/Have Used
Catechism — This question and answer method is very effective for helping children to learn the basic doctrines (teachings) of Scripture and can be started as soon as they can talk well. With our younger children, we simply have them memorize questions from a children’s catechism that is a simple version of the The Westminster Shorter Catechism. There are many catechism-based lesson books available – these are two we’ve used:
- Big Truths for Little Kids: Teaching Your Children to Live for God — This book takes young children through a simple version of the questions from the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and weaves a short story in to reinforce the lesson.
- Training Hearts, Teaching Minds: Family Devotions Based on the Shorter Catechism — This has been our favorite resource for teaching the catechism to our older children (8 and up). There are 107 questions, and it takes 2 years and 3 weeks to finish. Each question is covered in a week, with 6 short devotionals and Scripture proofs. We would ask the question, then have the children repeat the answer after us for the first 2 days or so – usually by Wednesday they’d have it memorized. We would read the devotional and add additional explanation or answer questions as necessary. The children would look up the Scripture verses and read them aloud – sometimes they would read the devotional. Then we’d ask the question again, recite the answer together, and conclude. We finished this for the first time earlier this year, and plan to start it up again very soon as a lunchtime devotional. This time I want to make up a set of laminated cards on a key ring for each of the children so they can study and quiz themselves and each other.
Other Bible Study Books — Although we focus on the Bible itself and catechism when teaching our children, we have found a few resources that are helpful. When choosing these books/study guides, our criterion is pretty strict – they must adhere faithfully to the whole Word of God, and never place themselves above it.
- Doorposts books and materials have been a joy for us to use since our children were young. The helpful charts, how-to-lists with Scripture references, and helps for biblical parenting are a blessing. One of my favorites is For Instruction in Righteousness – a topical reference guide for biblical child training. It is sorted by attitudes such as pride, selfishness, jealousy, etc. It has been very helpful on those busy days when there is a lot of reproof and instruction required, and my brain power is lacking.
- Discovering Jesus in Genesis and Discovering Jesus in Exodus — We have just finished going through both of these books in about 36 weeks. If you want to have a systematic way to teach children that the Bible isn’t just stories, but is about God’s covenant plan of salvation, these books are wonderful! There are 36 lessons per book – “glory stories” from Scripture, memory verses, and review questions. The lessons follow a group of cousins who made a “Cousin’s Covenant” to “seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul.” (2 Chronicles 15:12) More than one lesson brought me to tears as I was vividly reminded of God’s glorious provision of redemption for His people. We did two lessons per week to complete both books in one school year. I put together a bulletin board for the first book to help the children retain the lessons. I haven’t done a bulletin board for the second book, but I plan to do one now for review, even though we are done with the book. The theme of the Genesis book is “For Christ’s Crown and Covenant” — showing how all of the Bible is connected. The second teaches more in depth about the covenant promises, and the privileges and responsibilities of being a part of the God’s covenant family. I heartily recommend these books to anyone who asks (and even those who don’t!).
- The Most Important Thing You’ll Ever Study: A Survey of the Bible — We don’t buy every new Bible study book that comes out, but this is a new resource we just picked up, mainly because we recognized the author as the same person who wrote Teaching Hearts, Training Minds. It is a set of workbooks for older children that will take them through a survey of the entire Bible. It can be used alone to read just the assigned portions, or as a supplement to reading through the whole Bible. It looks to be a perfect fit for our older children.
This post is a little longer than usual, but I wanted to explain how we teach our core homeschool subject, before talking about any other curriculum we use. At times we fail, miss a reading and have to catch up. On days where everything seems to be falling apart, our “anchor point” is to at least finish our Bible reading, catechism, and family Bible time for the day.