Encouraging Biblical Literacy in Children: Ages 6-8

Encouraging Biblical Literacy in Children As children's ministry leaders and teachers, one of our goals in the classroom should be to encourage and help children grow in their proficiency in reading and understanding the Bible. To that end, the methodology and tools we use are important. For example, 1. Teach precept upon precept by introducing specific Bible skills and concepts at appropriate ages 2. Teach in a way that encourages the children to be actively involved with the text How might you do this when teaching a classroom of 1st- or 2nd-grade children? Here are a few practical suggestions for encouraging the first point:
  • Teach the children how to find things in the Bible—book, chapter, and verse—by giving the children explicit, step-by-step directions. Teach them to memorize the books of the Bible in order, through song and games. Read about our "Clothesline Activity."
  • Write out the reference so that the children can actually "see" what it looks like.
  • Have the students look up 1 or 2 verses (as age dictates) during the actual lesson time. Example of how to do this in a timely manner:

- Assign the book and chapter before the students gather for the lesson (e.g., in their small groups). Give them a bookmark to mark this. During the lesson, assign the verse.

- Have adults sit with children, especially those who will need more help.

Encouraging Biblical Literacy in Children Here are two examples for how to encourage children to be actively involved in the actual text:

Example 1

(Write out Isaiah 44:24b on a whiteboard or large piece of paper.)

I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,

Ask the children simple questions that point them directly to the text:

- Who is speaking in this verse? (Point to "the LORD.")

- Did God make just some things? What word does God use to show that He didn't make just some things? (Point to "all.")

- Did God have help making all things? What words does God use to show that He didn't need any help? ("by myself")

- What should we recognize about God from this verse? Is He weak or strong? Is He small or great?

Example 2

(Write out Psalm 103:13-14.)

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

Ask the children simple questions that point them directly to the text:

What do fathers show to their children? What is compassion? According to this verse, who does God show compassion to? Look at the last part of the verse. What do you think that it means that God knows our "frame" and remembers that we are "dust"? Is dust strong or weak? How does understanding the love and kindness of a good father help us to understand what God is like toward His children? Why is it a good thing that God keeps in mind that we are weak?

From personal experience, I have seen children get excited and actively engaged in using their Bibles when they are carefully and patiently guided through this process. And what a joy it is to see the children thoughtfully answering questions from the text. Give a try! Read my second post on Encouraging Biblical-Literacy in Children: Ages 9-11  
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