A few weeks ago we had a fantastic workshop by Aleta Samford on how to teach Bible class, or simply the Bible, and how to have that enthusiasm for the Scriptures and teach as Bible teachers and mothers.
Needless to say a good teacher of the Bible is someone who reads the LIVING WORD of God and applies it into her life, someone who is eager to share with others, starting with her own children, that what she has learned from the Scriptures.
Charlotte Mason inspired people like me call books that aren’t twaddle living books, but I want to clarify that in truth there is only one living book, the Bible, the others are wholesome or sometimes referred as living, but the word has a different meaning, they are books that “come alive” and that are written from a first source, and that contain language and stories that shape the character and teach you. The Bible does all that and MORE. To me and many others is our code of conduct, we follow the Bible literally, without adding or taking away anything. The Bible is our back spine for history, science, geography (when it speaks on these matters), and the INSPIRED WORD OF GOD. We don’t worship the Bible, but we worship the God the Bible tells us it’s the Only True Living God, and we worship and live as a constant strive in the manner the Bible tells us to worship and live.
Back to how to study and teach the Bible at home or with a group of children, Aleta brought a book to our attention called THE SEVEN LAWS OF TEACHING. I’m quoting and restating what Aleta presented that day here in blue:
|Illustrated Bible and two Bible dictionaries of words
and people and places that I bough for little this past summer.
1. The law of the teacher. We need to know our material to present well. Read the Bible story from the original and from the Bible you are using with them. Know the details. Prepare with time, know your students, communicate the lessons with the parents if you are teaching a group. Plan well. It shouldn’t be too laborious or dreadful but exciting to read ahead and prepare for the lessons.
2. The law of the student. As parents we need to be sure our children are taught the habit of attention, of listening and obeying. If they don’t listen and obey us how do you expect them to listen and obey God. As a mother I know my responsibility is to prepare my children to receive the teachings with a good heart.
3. The law of the language. Aleta stated that when she teaches a Bible class she doesn’t use for decoration any secular theme, neither talking animals. Fantasy has its place as fantasy when we read tales. The Bible teaches truths, and she recommends we present them as such, with a not watered down language, but remembering that words have more than one meaning, and listening for the children feedback to see if they are being understood. Minding the age and particularities of each group.
4.The law of the lesson. Present the lesson through truth already known, making the most of the students’ knowledge and experience. Begin with simple concrete facts, lead to the abstract. Encourage them to state what they know.
When you prepare the lesson, read the Bible text twice at least and with attention to details. Ask yourself the six W questions (who, why, what, when, where, how). Relate every lesson to their experiences and prior lessons too.
5.The law of the teaching process. This was very exciting to hear, that John Milton Gregory also pointed to the fact that the students need to discover the truth themselves, that it is insulting to mull it, masticate it, and lecture the lesson on their behalf. They need to think by themselves, and we should use as many senses as possible, and as Aleta wrote TELL HIM NOTHING HE CAN LEARN HIMSELF.
6.The law of the learning process. The pupil must reproduce in his own mind the truth to be learned. Teach them to ask: a) What’s happening?, b) What does it mean?, c) How can I say what I mean in my own words?, d) Do I believe what the lesson tells me? Why?, e) What is the good of it -how may I apply and use the knowledge the lesson gives?
We shouldn’t forget to ask students to express the lesson in their own words. We should make students independent investigators, cultivate in them the habit of research. Test often their conceptions to see if they are getting it, help them develop a regard for truth as something noble and enduring, and don’t leave them consciously confused. Never fail to guide them in making practical application.
7.The law of review and application. “All that has been accomplished lies hidden in the minds of the pupils, and lies there as potency rather than a possession” (from The Seven Laws of Teaching pg. 115). Review is more than repetition. It serves us to confirm, perfect, render knowledge ready and useful. No teaching is complete without the review. When reviewing, bring old knowledge into fresh light.
The subconscious continues to work with the knowledge gathered (the same way as in your preparation of the lesson).
To get ready to teach recollect some simple visuals. I use an illustrated Bible, images from a Bible dictionary will come in handy too. I also have cards from the Drills CD and they include fourteen cards that depict the Bible time line in an easy yet powerful way.
This is how I approach Bible study at home. We have started chronologically not long ago, and currently we are learning about Moses.
– I present them with the timeline, they recite with me, some days they put it in order themselves.
Prior to the lesson, read the Bible story from the Bible you’ll read and from yours. I use KJ or NKJ and the Spanish Bible I’ll be reading. Get soaked in the details and descriptions. You can even ORALLY tell them the story with your own words versus reading it or before reading it.
– Have an opening prayer specific to the lesson. Sing a song that goes with the lesson before and/or after. For older children, hymns that tie to the lesson are great to learn in context.
Have a card or picture for the story, ask them to place it where it falls in the time line. Show it to them, ask them to describe it to you. You can show them the picture from your illustrated Bible as well. Older children enjoy the art that some illustrated Bibles have even if you are reading from your KJ Bible.
During and after presenting the lesson, ask a few questions or allow for their comments, do not talk for long without their input.
I like having small pictures of the characters of the Bible. They like to put the couples together, their children underneath, and this is great for review to start solidifying the genealogies and making connections.
– When teaching more than your own children, or even at home, it is nice to give them a picture, a card, and to have their attention until it’s their time to stand up and place that on the flannel board, or under the wall timelime, or on the kitchen table.
Instead of lessons that seem disconnected and out of the blues, placing things in a timeline, and reviewing the family tree or the relationship between the characters involved in the lesson helps them for example to see Moses as the one who will carry on the promise of LAND that God made to Abraham before, instead of a different, new and disjointed story we are learning about today. Aleta commented how her students, after having studied and having become acquainted with David, their hero who killed lions and Goliath, they were devastated when they learned about his sin with Batsheva. This happens to me as an adult. I have many dots not connected yet that I’m trying to fill in context studying more. Today I need to research if there is any information about how long Moses might have been nursed and cared for by his mother before he was sent to Pharaoh’s daughter.
It is amazing and fascinating all the history, geography, about other cultures and more that we learn through the Bible. I believe we fail sometimes to put the BIBLE at the head of our academic studies in order and importance, to recognize it as the Book that tells us the story of mankind not just what we read “during church” or in an non disconnected manner.
– Allow them to illustrate and draw the lesson while you read it or tell it or after. Telling a story with pictures it’s not a thing of little ones but of all ages. I join my daughters at times with this.
– In a group with several children, have them act out the lesson. This is is what I enjoy the most in a class with several students.
– March to simple made up tunes such as:
* Potiphar believed his wife…Potiphar believed his wife
* And he sent Joseph to jail….and he sent Joseph to jail.
– Next day do not forget the LAW OF REVIEWING what was covered the day before. Do not move too fast. LESS IS MORE. Do not drag and make it too the same, drill type.
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
Acts and a letter to the Romans,
First and Second Corinthians,
Galatians and Ephesians,
First and Second Thesalonians,
First and Second Timothy,
Titus and Philemon,
First and Second Peter,
First and Second and Third John
Jude and Revelation
first and second Chronicles sing with me,
And later we’ll attack the apostles and the judges. There are songs for the tribes and judges, and to go with the Bible timeline in Aleta’s book, sing with me the story.These memory work is ongoing, and it’s learned little by little. But a month of regular practice will bear great fruits.
We have also worked on memory verses, and we might do it again. But I’ve seen that they forget them after they learned them for the lesson (which it’s not necessarily bad, there is value in memorizing a verse that goes with a lesson for that week). However, I like them to learn what I’ve shown above, amazingly enough it will help you recognize the twelve tribes as the Leah’s ten sons, and the two younger and favorite ones from Rachel. Or to see that Samson was a judge, Joshua too, and to immediately situate those events as happening before the time of the kings.
For memory work I also like to read a psalm or proverb in its entirety for a month or two. I haven’t memorized this much yet, neither the girls, but some psalms and chapters in certain books are very familiar if we have done this practice, so this is something to grow into for sure. We also learn hymns from memory in addition to any songs that tie with the lesson.
I was devastated last year when everyone in my oldest daughter class could recite the NT books and she couldn’t. I know I shouldn’t compare, but that feeling of having failed in a situation where everybody else’s children could do something mine couldn’t made me feel very uneasy and down.
I thank the mature lady that had no shame in telling me about this so that we (I didn’t know the books by heart either) learned them together. I never thought five year old children (and even three years old children) could learn all this but they can. We are ALWAYS improving our study and memory work. They don’t know the OT fully yet, they get stuck a bit but the oldest is almost there. We haven’t been doing the psalm or proverb reading lately, we need to improve in this area. We are ALWAYS refocusing and back to the task and joy of learning all this. Do not look at what they don’t know or you haven’t done. Look at what you want to accomplish and start with one small step at a time.