The following ideas and suggestions are Bible study tips that I used with my own children. As parents, we need to do all we can to encourage our children to learn and enjoy the Word of God. It is important to make the study as interesting as possible for their age level. Use these tips when it is the most applicable to your family.
When teaching the Old Testament, it is a good idea to follow the basic narrative or story of the Old Testament. In other words, teach the Old Testament chronologically rather than book by book as outlined in the Table of Contents of your Bible. The Old Testament narrative books include:
GENESIS, EXODUS, NUMBERS, JOSHUA, JUDGES, 1 AND 2 SAMUEL, 1 AND 2 KINGS, (70 year captivity), EZRA, NEHEMIAH.
These books provide the basic story or the essential narrative of the Old Testament. All the other books either review parts of this narrative (Deuteronomy), or give further explanation of the times or expand a given subject or theme (Ruth, Psalms, Proverbs, Prophets, etc.).
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that narrative books are any more important than the other books of the Old Testament – all are equally inspired of God. I am only saying that the narrative books provide the basis story of the Old Testament into which all the other books fit. Once your children realize the basic narrative and where the other books fit into the story, it will make more sense to them because each book will be placed in its logical and meaningful context. Use videos and graphics whenever possible.
Use everyday moral situations or dilemmas whenever possible. These practical situations make the lessons real to youngsters. Roger Lewin said, “Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve.” Think about it!
A good book for illustrations of moral dilemmas for the intermediate grades is: Growing up Moral by Peter Schart, William McCoy and Diane Ross published by Winston Press. Certainly I can’t vouch for everything in every dilemma but most of them are worth using. Amazon.com has used copies on sale for $0.55.
Don’t “principlize” everything. Allow your children to enjoy the story and learn the facts first. They have plenty of time to apply the lessons to their lives as time goes on. On the other hand, do not be afraid to apply truth immediately where needed.
Make the studies short and meaningful. Remember you are in this for the long haul. Everything can’t be done at once. Some wisely said, “Keep them longing, not loathing.”
Don’t be afraid to digress if they have questions. The reason for the studies is help them grow in the Lord and to grapple with their present situations. Don’t despair when your lesson is interrupted by their questions or observations. Such interaction makes them feel part of the process.
Give weekly assignments. If you do, make sure you go over the assignments the following week.
Vary the content. Do not stay in one book for more than a month. Keep things changing. You can always go back and pick up where you left off.
Overviews and surveys are very important. Always go from the whole to the parts. This provides the big picture into which the parts fit. Good surveys are not easy to find. Once source that is a bit expensive is J. Sidlow Baxter’s work entitled, Explore the Book. Amazon.com has used copies of the whole set for about $45.00.
Give prizes for a job well done. Local book stores have posters, banners and fun prizes for children. Obviously the real reward is the privilege of studying the Word of God, but don’t be afraid to reward youngsters for their efforts.
Occasionally, vary the time and place of study. While a study time should be consistent, on occasion, it is a good idea to throw them a curve and have it at an odd time and place. You might have a discussion in the car while traveling and count it as a weekly Bible study.
By Kenneth O. Peterman, Ph.D.