This may seem like common sense to most of you but it was an epiphany for me. Since I heard the news of Kai’s conception in June 2011; I’ve thought about and researched how to teach young children about Jesus. The problem I ran into was that I was trained in secondary education and taught at the university level. My brain had trouble adjusting to small people thinking.
I thought about it…no ideas. I researched, Googled and asked for advice at church…no ideas. I did this for nearly two years. No kidding. You’d think someone so educated could come up with a solution. I’ve even taken child psychology. So I finally asked God…
So how do you teach young children about Jesus? Just like you teach them about anything else…they learn by watching you. I sure had trouble wrapping my grey matter around that one. “It’s just that easy?” I thought. No lesson plans, no bells and whistles, no arts and crafts? No, not any of it; it’s just me showing him who Jesus is through my actions and words.
What can you do practically to train young children? Here are a few ideas.
- Keep it simple. Keep it at their level. At this age rote memorization is the only way they learn. They have not yet acquired analytical or critical thinking abilities.
- Pray with them, for them, and over them in their presence.
- Read the bible, or a children’s bible which is mainly bible stories.
- Sing to them, not just simple children’s songs like Jesus loves me, but songs that make you want to jump and shout to the Lord. Songs like “Our God”, “Big House”, “kings and Queens”, “Born Again”. What songs bring out the joy of the Lord in you? You can bet it will do the same for your little one. When they see you joyful, praising Jesus, they’ll want to too. They may not understand now but in the future they won’t fear publically praising God.
- Last and most important, practice what you preach. Demonstrate a Christian attitude and Christian behavior. Apologize, use manners and show kindness to others. Be purposeful with your child and don’t talk at them, they know the difference and respond in kind.
I started purposefully employing these actions with diligence and consistency about six months ago, Kai is now two and a half. Does he know Jesus or want to be saved? Of course not; he’s not capable of understanding these concepts yet. But when he’s older and able to understand he will at least have background knowledge with which to build. This is so important in learning anything new not just for children but everyone. Learning is always easier when we have something to build upon or relate to.
Have I noticed any changes? Yes…
- Kai no longer just listens as I pray but actively participates. He gives thanks at dinner and prays with me at bedtime.
- He enjoys bible stories now, before he was too young and didn’t care to be read to. He just couldn’t sit still long enough. Later he wanted to control the reading by telling me what was going on in the book, but now he actually listens and asks questions. But he still likes to tell me what’s in the pictures.
- Kai loves the music, he dances, shouts with joy and tries to sing the best he can.
Does he understand anything about Christian life? I’d like to think he’s at least getting a solid basis from which to grow from. Just when I thought all my efforts weren’t sinking in he surprised me. The other day Kai got up from his nap, walked to my computer and asked “what’s that”? I said, “It’s my bible study, I’m learning about Jesus” to which he replied “AMEN”. I think he’s getting it.
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New Life 501 – The Next Generation, teaching our young will provide practical tips on teaching your children about Jesus. These lessons will be based on my own lessons with Kai. You can expect these later in the year and be aimed at early preschoolers. As Kai grows so will the lessons from preschool to college…yes I plan on being here that long.