Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it – Proverbs 22:6 NIV
The action word in the above topic is “train”. To train is a deliberate, conscious and detailed process of teaching or developing in oneself or others any skill and knowledge or fitness that relates to specific useful competencies. Training has specific goals of achieving a desired result or outcome. In this context, the desired result is to have children that learn Scriptures. This leads us to the next word to note which is “learn”. Learning is the acquisition of knowledge or skills through study, experience or being taught. The key word here is “learn” not “cram” like we used to do while growing up during Sunday school quiz and competition, where we were asked to recite chapters from the Scriptures and after a year, we would have forgotten everything. We forgot all because we crammed to win the competition.
Important Keys to Helping Children Learn Scriptures
Personal Responsibility: As a parent or guardian, in order to train your children or wards to learn and retain Scriptures, you need to see it as a personal responsibility. The more we see it as a personal responsibility rather than a necessary burden, the easier it becomes to get the child learn Scriptures.
Provide the Right Environment: In achieving anything reasonable in the life of a child, the right environment is indispensible. The right environment connotes the right frame of mind, a calm atmosphere devoid of distractions and the right physical and emotional state of being. If any of these is not in place, our training may become an effort in futility.
Pray for the Help and Guidance of the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit is the key agency for knowing God. Christ rightly declares about Him: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” – John 14:26. There is need to seek His help and guidance in this important parental assignment entrusted to us by God. It is only by His help that we can make any reasonable progress in this regard.
Do not Rush: Learning requires time if the learning outcomes must be achieved, especially with children. We must learn to be patient with them and allow them to learn at their pace. We must understand the uniqueness of each child and treat them based on that uniqueness. It is in doing this, that we can be sure of achieving the goals of our training.
The Right Motive: The motivation behind training a child to learn Scriptures is instrumental to the overall outcome of the training. Our motive should be far from having the child show off scriptural knowledge skills before friends and loved ones. It should rather be to enable the child know God better, and have the life of Christ formed in the child. If our motive is rightly set, it also helps the child to key in and learn with the right motive too. With this in place we can be sure of achieving the training outcomes.
Age Appropriate Training: In training children to learn Scriptures, it is important to take into cognizance their ages. For instance, the way a 2 year old is taught should be different from how a 5 year old is taught to learn Scriptures. This age consideration in training our children is important in helping the child learn at his or her level.
Rewards for Learning: As a motivational strategy, set rewards for learning Scriptures for your children. Even God whom we serve rewards those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Even though the reward shouldn’t become their primary motivation for learning Scriptures, it reassures them of your appreciation of the progress they are making in the training process. Aside material rewards, words of affirmation and encouragement will go a long way in helping the child learn better.
Repetition: Repetition is required to help the child learn properly. Do not be tired of repeating where the child isn’t catching up. Our primary goal shouldn’t be in the quantity of work covered within a particular time but in the understanding of the child. Repetition greatly enhances learning if done patiently.
Deliberately and Consciously Live Out What You Teach: Children learn more by example rather than theory. Learning Scriptures for the child becomes easier when he or she sees it practically lived out by us as parents. The principle of “do what I say but not what I do” shouldn’t apply here if we must achieve our training goals. We must deliberately and consciously be students of the Scriptures ourselves, and live in obedience to its injunctions to be able to properly inculcate the knowledge of same into our children. Our lives as parents should be centered on the Scriptures we teach our children, and then they’ll easily grasp the point.
In conclusion, it is our responsibility as parents to feed our children with spiritual food just as it is our primary responsibility to feed them with physical food. Remember that we’re all going to give account to God on how well we train our children. Every spiritual investment we make on them counts for eternity just as physical investment is profitable in the long-run. May the Master find us worthy of this great assignment at last in Jesus’ Name, Amen!