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When should I start teaching younger children?
Mike is a father who wonders, “I have a two-year-old boy and another boy about to turn three, but most materials seem to be written for older kids. When should I start?”
It’s never too early! All you need is a book with good pictures. You can begin talking about the pictures, even with a one-year-old. Over time, you can explain more and more. Your children will begin to love those books and want to learn more.
First impressions are often the images that last a lifetime, so make them count.
Many good books are available, even reprints of old books. The New England Primer, used by the early Puritans in America, allows parents to teach serious biblical truths along with their ABC’s. Newer books, geared for young ages, include the alphabet books A Is for Adam and D Is for Dinosaur (by Ken Ham).
Check out catechisms for children. Ask your pastor or church librarian. Depending on your denomination, you may find useful catechisms online, such as www.reformedreader.org/ccc/hbd.htm. At bedtime, ask simple questions:
“Who made you?” “God made me.”
“Who is God?” “God is the maker of all things.”
With very young children, repetition is key. Although they aren’t ready for long discourses, they’ll understand simple sentences. As they mature, you can add additional explanations and ask more difficult questions.
Of course, teaching time doesn’t always need to be formal. Georgia Purdom, mother of three-year-old Elizabeth, takes advantage of every teachable moment: “When we’re pulling weeds, I mention that we wouldn’t have to do this if Adam hadn’t sinned. When our cats leave dead animals at the house, I talk about the bad news (why things die) and the good news that we can live forever in heaven if we become a child of God.”
Whatever method you choose, do teach. It’s never too early to begin sharing these truths with the little ones entrusted to your care.