Mark L. Lowrey, Jr.
This is the exciting age when children are not only learning their alphabet letters and numbers; they are also becoming beginning readers. They are now helping you read their favorite books and, in some cases, are reading the books to you.
In “classrooms” at home, school, and church, parents and teachers face the “reader and nonreader” tension. Every child is at a different level and is progressing at a different speed. It is critical that curricula and materials for children this age handle this tension effectively. There are major implications for how children learn and what their learning experience will be.
The materials not only need to be age-appropriate, but also need to be easy to use and provide help, assistance, and direction for teachers and parents to use and apply to the children. This is particularly critical when volunteer teachers have an hour or less of church educational time. A good curriculum will also connect the instruction at church with time at home and what parents can do to reinforce and build on the limited time at church.
How do you teach profound truths like the following to a concrete-thinking and literal child?
These truths are not taught as a theological treatise, but from Bible stories. The Bible provides one story of God’s historical-redemptive work through Christ. When you tell them the stories, children see God at work. Each lesson points them to Christ.
There are those who would like people at every age level to have the same Bible story taught each week. People think that this sounds helpful for families with children of different ages. But such an approach has certain shortcomings, such as:
Great Commission Publication’s Show Me Jesus, G2R Bible Survey and So What Youth Bible Studies are structured so that a student in every department (every two years) gets the whole story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. On a yearly basis from preschool through grade 4, a child has two quarters of curriculum from both the Old Testament (Fall and Summer) and the New Testament (Winter and Spring).
This approach enables teachers and parents to lay the proper and sound foundation for teaching preschool through elementary students the significance of Genesis and Exodus for all of the Scriptures and their faith. Creation is not just God making man in his image; instead, it includes the Fall and the implications for all of creation and mankind. Children begin to understand the gospel in Genesis 3:15 and what God did to redeem his people through the promised Seed of the woman, which is fulfilled in the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ.
The promise is followed through in all of the stories and great redemptive epochs of Scripture—Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, etc. As children grow, they are learning and processing the stories and God’s work in a deeper intellectual, spiritual, and emotional way, and applying these truths at an age-appropriate level.
At this age, a child’s world is his family. So the child learns not only that God created the first family (Adam and Eve), but that sin spoiled God’s creation, leaving us all sinful and in need of God’s forgiveness. Only those joined by faith to the Savior are members of God’s family. They learn that God’s children trust their heavenly Father to help them believe and live godly lives.
God also called families (Noah and Abraham), and he shows us what it is like for redeemed sinners to trust God and his promises, living as members of God’s family. Through these stories, children learn that our sovereign God calls, saves, leads, and protects his people; in turn, his people respond to his grace and mercy with thanksgiving and show their faith in Christ by their obedience.
“Laying a Firm Foundation, Part One: Ages 2 to 5” appeared in the October 2014 issue of New Horizons. The author is the publications director for Great Commission Publications.
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