Two-year-old children are terrific, not terrible. They’re learning so much so quickly, and they’re ready to feast on the bread of life. Jesus wants them with him (Matt 19:13-15), so let’s not get in the way.
How can you take advantage of this time of life? I won’t give a comprehensive manual for parenting, but I hope to help you inspire these little ones to treasure God’s Knowable Word and learn to study it.
1. Read Scripture
Believe it or not, Bible study involves the Bible. God’s Word reveals his heart (2 Pet 1:21) and pierces ours (Heb 4:12). It shapes us for glory (2 Tim 3:16-17). And it wasn’t written just for adults (Eph 6:1-3, Col 3:20).
But sometimes we give our children a diet of caffeine-free, low-fat story book Bibles, and we neglect the nutritious, life-giving, spiritually fattening, satisfactorily scrumptious, obedience-empowering, grace-delighting Word of God.
Read the Bible regularly with your child or Sunday school class.
2. Focus on observation
Young children notice much more than we think they do. Just look at how much they imitate us.
While preaching a sermon last Sunday, I saw my two-year-old daughter copying my hand motions. The accuracy of her gestures threatened my composure and confirmed my suspicions. She catches far more than she lets on, and I’m in a position to hone her fledgling prowess.
Read just a few verses, and expect the children to notice stuff. Ask them about what they heard and have them repeat the key details. Then read a few more verses and repeat the process.
3. Ask basic questions
It seems obvious, but it’s easy to neglect, especially if older children are also present. I find myself often assuming the youngest child is “still a baby,” and I speak exclusively to the older children. But the youngest needs practice, too. “How many men did Jesus heal?” “Why did he heal them? Because they were _____ [sick].” “How many came back to thank him [hold up one finger]?”
4. Take advantage of the “Why” phase
By the time they reach 3 years of age, many children learn how to ask “why” and never turn back. They ask it all the time. Don’t be annoyed by it. In fact, you can beat them to it.
“Why did Jesus die? So we could have ______ [life].” “Why do we need Jesus? Because our hearts are ______ [sick].”
5. Ask leading questions
It’s okay if your questions have obvious answers. The repetition over time is more important than unique insight on the child’s part. Young children excel at memorization, and asking the same questions over and over builds their foundation.
In our house, the mantra is: “How does God want you to obey?” Answer: right away, all the way, and with a cheerful heart.
That’s followed by: “And why did Jesus die?” Answer: so we could have life.
Every Bible study connects in some way to these two questions.
When it comes to training my children, I don’t want to be original. I want to be useful.
6. Give them Jesus
They need Jesus more than anything – more than Bible knowledge, more than life lessons, and more than good behavior. Even at age two, children can learn that “Jesus” is usually the right answer to any question.
Question: What other ideas do you have? What resources have you found helpful?
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