Read my classmate post. Think and write your thoughts and feelings about his post. (1 page)
Since becoming a parent, I have a new appreciation and understanding of the education of our children. Even though I previously knew that teaching them was important, I had no idea how much children could learn at young ages. Before addressing this week’s text, I will share a personal experience that developed out of our Covid restrictions. As a church, we were able to resume virtual classes with adults and teens quite easily when meeting in-person was not an option. However, reaching the younger children in this way was more difficult. My wife and I developed a virtual plan to reach out to younger children and their parents. It had limited success but was certainly better than nothing. Eventually we were able to meet in-person for worship. Even though we did not officially have classes, my wife and I developed a class opportunity for fifth grade and younger. Given our circumstances, a lot of what we did was in song. My son was a participant in this class. He was one year old when we began and is now two years old. I watched my barely two-year-old son repeat, without any assistance, seventeen time periods of the Bible along with accompanying hand motions. It is amazing what young children are capable of learning.
I appreciated that Mcquitty (2008) pointed out that preschool classes are much more than babysitting. As a parent of three, I have seen that children’s minds are designed to learn and take in incredible amounts of information. I strongly believe that one of the most important things that we can do as a church is support our parents from the very birth of their child. We can impress upon them how important it is to begin teaching immediately in the life of their children. But I have realized that many parents do not actually know what to do. We let them down if we fail to provide what they need. My wife and I have turned our current class into both an opportunity to educate the children and a time to work with the parents and help prepare them for teaching at home. So far, we have had positive results.
McQuitty (2008) pointed out that a substantial number of parents allow the church to be the primary source of spiritual development (p. 288). While the church has a vital role, God directs parents to an active, and continual, role in the spiritual development of their children (see Deut. 6). A major part of my educational program is to provide parents with the education and resources necessary to educate their children. I still believe the potential impact from parents is significantly greater than that of the church.
Kennemur (2008) accurately states, “Discipleship training begins as early as the preschool years” (p. 309). Experts understand the power of shaping the worldview of a young child. Whether you agree with everything pushed within our public-school systems or not, there are reasons that certain ideas are introduced to our noticeably young children. Ideas within young children can be powerful. This concept has been unfortunately abused within world history. However, God also intends for parents to understand it and utilize it.
I felt Kennemur (2008) provided a helpful list of ideas concerning how children learn (pp. 305-306). There are certainly ways to make learning more effective. Simply being in a classroom because a bible class is offered may have a minimal impact. However, understanding how children learn and adapting teaching methods to meet those needs can significantly impact learning. While there is value in every item on this list, two stand out to me. First, learners must be actively involved. Young children are not designed to optimally learn in a lecture style class. This is developmental psychology 101. The problem is that it is so easy for teachers to fall back on these methods. It is hard to create a lesson that promotes active learning. Some curriculums do a better job than others but training our teachers to think this way is essential. Also, most teachers will not be able to do this on their own. As churches we need to support their learning.
Second, learners must develop relationships with their teachers. Teachers who invest time into the relationship of their students and their parents are always more successful. I do not believe that I have ever witnessed an exception to this rule. Sometimes those relationships can be developed within the course of the class. I have seen teachers who were particularly good at this. Others have figured out ways to enhance these relationships in creative ways outside of class. Regardless, when our children know that they are loved, they tend to respond in positive ways. It is difficult for students to engage with teachers who do not appear to have a genuine concern for their well-being.
Unfortunately, the lack of children present in bible classes of many churches illustrates that we have not done a good enough job in this area. We can do better. It demands hard work, but it can be done. As educators, I hope each of us is willing to spend considerable time and resources to developing adequate educational possibilities for our children.
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