I feel that it is important for children to study the Bible. Each time a child goes to a Sunday School class or is read a book about the Bible, they are learning about it. But are they studying it? In the Scholastic Children’s Dictionary, the word “study” means “to spend time learning a subject or skill by reading about it or by practicing it”. Webster’s Intermediate Dictionary defines the word “study” as “a careful examination or investigation of something”. We teach children about the Bible, but are we teaching them how to study the Bible? Are we teaching them how to examine the Bible and investigate what it’s saying?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that teaching the Bible stories to children is bad. Of course not! I’m just saying that maybe we need to go a little further every now and then. Our goal as teachers shouldn’t be for the children to be dependent on us in order to understand the Bible. They need to be taught how to study the Bible themselves.
One Wednesday night during the K-5th grade class I was teaching, I was supposed to teach about Jeremiah. I could have told them the story about Jeremiah’s life and had them do an activity (like every other lesson I had done). There would have been nothing wrong with doing that, but I felt that the kids were ready to do a little verse-by-verse study on the 1st chapter of the book of Jeremiah.
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We started out by reading through the entire chapter. I wanted them to have a context for the study and to see the full picture of what was going on. I made a little worksheet for them (print here) to write their notes down as we went along. Then we read verse 1, discussed it, and they wrote their notes down. We did this for each verse in the 1st chapter of Jeremiah. This took us two weeks to accomplish, but I think that they really enjoyed the deeper learning. They got excited about understanding the Bible and was able to grasp what was going on.
Now, this would be very difficult to do depending on the material. Somethings are just too hard developmentally for elementary students to understand. That’s where knowing your students comes in and what you think they are ready for. I knew my students were ready for this and they were! It was exciting to see their eyes light up when they understood what a verse in the Bible meant and how it fit in with the verses around it.
I’m hoping that we will be able to do more of this as the right situations arise. By doing this, they are learning how to study the Bible for themselves, which can only benefit them in the future.