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Teaching the Bible to Children

Pastor Tom Walker

February 11, 2011

photo of Pr. Tom Walker

Pastor Tom Walker

Children learn by repetition. Adults are likely to say, "I've already seen that movie." But children will ask to see the same DVD again and again. Kid's delight in going through the same books, the same routines, the same rituals over and over. Why is that? Children learn by repetition.

Why is it then that so many Sunday school programs do a quick read through a Bible verse and then start getting out the scissors, glue, and crayons to do some kind of project? Of course craft activities are appropriate for Sunday school, but they must not take the place of a repeated hearing and an intentional exploration of the Biblical stories.

If children are going to learn the Bible they need to hear the stories again and again. At Sola Publishing we have designed our entire line of Sunday school material, Sunday Schoolhouse, with this concern in mind. In each lesson of the Sunday Schoolhouse series, the teacher is provided with three ways to go through the bible story in addition to reading the biblical text: 1. a retold story; 2. a Bible rhyme; and 3. a dramatization of the story. In addition to this there is a coloring page and an activity page designed to enable students to visually explore the crucial elements and sense of the story. In each lesson these reproducible sheets give the teacher an opportunity to ask questions to to check for their student's understanding.

The leader's manual for Sunday Schoolhouse provides ideas for teachers to add interesting ways to repeat the story during their classes. The guide addresses important teaching and learning activities designed to make best use of this approach including: 1. tips on leading a class session; 2. classroom discipline and conduct; 3. ideas for memory work; 4. ideas for creative storytelling and review; 5. ideas for using drama and puppetry; 6. ideas for classroom activities. The central focus of Sunday Schoolhouse is that the teacher teaches, not the curriculum. The curriculum is only there to provide support for teaching faith; "revealed from faith for faith." (Romans 1:17)

In response to the question, What is Sunday school for?, the Sunday Schoolhouse Leader's Guide responds:

"For many, the thought of teaching Sunday school is intimidating. Conveying the depth of theological doctrines -- or even answering the questions of children -- may seem overwhelming. Therefore, it is important for teachers to keep their task in perspective.

The Philosophy underlying the Sunday Schoolhouse curriculum is that the primary purpose of Sunday school is to introduce children to the stories of the Bible. Teachers are not expected to be experts in theological subtleties or to know the answer to every religious question. The goal is simply to familiarize children with the characters and events of Scripture, by introducing them to the way real people experienced a life with God. We believe that when children experience the Scriptures, God actually works to create faith."

The first full year of Sunday Schoolhouse, Year A, is now complete and available for use in your congregation. We hope you will take a careful look at the resources it can bring to your congregation's Sunday School program. However it is important to understand that this material is different from other curriculum you may have seen. Its purpose is to help you fill the Sunday school hour with repeated telling of the story and careful exploration of the characters and events. It will require you to teach, not just follow instructions. And remember, children learn through repetition. Learn more and order Sunday Schoolhouse!