All parents experience some degree of angst when their children are about to enter kindergarten. Their precious gift from God is about to emerge from the cocoon of moral attitudes, values, and behaviors that so intentionally swaddled them for their first few years. As Godly Christian parents, the anxiety can simmer much deeper realizing their child will, for the first time, be exposed to viewpoints and perspectives contrary to their beliefs. You worry, “How will I know what my child is being exposed to?” “Will my child have the ability to discern between truth and error?” “Will contrary attitudes, values, and teachings cause confusion with my child?” These are very valid questions. Take heart, however, for there are also answers that will give you comfort and hope. As a former public middle school educator and school administrator for thirty years who watched the effects of cultural shift upon children from Christian homes, there are five CRITICAL spiritual understandings your children must have BEFORE they start school for the first time. But the most significant takeaway from what I share here is that these things MUST begin early and be taught INTENTIONALLY, layer upon layer. To simply have one or two talks about it with your child as they nod their heads in assent will not, in my opinion, be sufficient for internalization and retrieval. We all internalize concepts best when they are repeated, sequenced, and layered, and this is especially critical for the preschool child.
Believe me, public school is not devoid of references and discussions about god. Until now, your child has embraced God with no idea that some people believe in a different god. How often I have heard within the walls of the schoolhouse, “We may get there different ways, but we all pray to the same god.” Like it or not, your child WILL be faced with this lie, either as spoken or implied. Arm your child with truth by teaching them that references to god may not refer to their God. Begin teaching them as early as age three that our God is the only God who:
Now, to clarify, your five or six-year-old will not have all the skills to identify which god is the subject of discussion, but just understanding that some people believe in a different god and knowing which God is theirs can insulate your child against confusion and disillusionment. It is sad, but true, that consciously teaching this concept that there is only one true and real God, along with which God He is, is the most basic but critical understanding for your child when starting school. (Read to the end for how you teach this in a repetitive, sequential, layered manner.)
Teaching this concept provides reassurance that we can always count on our God for truth. Therefore, what He says carries more weight than what anyone else says, any textbook, special speaker, friend, or teacher. (Read to the end for how you teach this in a repetitive, sequential, layered manner.)
Now, note what becomes a clear conclusion here. We accept these three principles by faith, and because There is only one true and real God, because Our God never lies, and because The Bible is God’s Word(s), the only logical resultant conclusion is that everything in the Bible is our highest and final authority for truth. The Bible is to be relied upon, and so it becomes imperative that your child see Bibles in use, sees adults searching the Scriptures for truth, and sees adults treating the Bible with respect. It reinforces that truth-seeking is not just for them, but is a critical skill they will need as adults. (Read to the end for how you teach these three principles in concert.)
Up to this point, probably everyone in your child’s circle has loved and worshipped God. It can come as a shock to realize that others (be it bus drivers, teachers, or other children,) either don’t love God, worship a different god, or don’t believe in God at all. They’ll discover that others talk differently, behave differently, and express views contrary to the only view they thought existed. This shocking reality can plant seeds of confusion if they are not ready for it.
Until now, your child may not have experienced ridicule or bullying for the sake of Jesus Christ. PLEASE don’t wait until they do to discuss the issue. They may not tell you. You may not know it’s happening. Prepare your child by having advance “quiet time” discussions about the precious treasure we have in Jesus Christ. Help him/her understand that every precious treasure costs something, and the price we pay for having a friendship with the one true and real God will include ridicule and persecution.
First, let me reiterate that these foundational skills can and should be taught beginning at age 3-4. Children’s attention spans are very short, so quick, frequent bursts are much more effective. Repetition upon repetition upon repetition is enjoyed by this age.
Second, begin to think in different terms from your traditional Sunday School experiences that probably taught Bible stories each week and ended with a “moral of the story.” Although that teaching was interesting, true, and served us, cultural shift and pull demand a much more focused, strategic, and sequential approach. Try this instead:
Week 5—Now circle to the second principle our God does not lie, teaching a new Bible evidentiary account but using the same memory verse as in week 2. Always review the prior 2 week’s learning.
Week 6—Circle back to the third principle the Bible is God’s Word(s) to us using a new account but the same memory verse as week 3, always reviewing the 2 prior week’s learning.
Week 7—Time for the first principle again, the there is only one true and real God. Follow the same procedure each week, circling back with new accounts of evidence.
Before long, your child will have committed the scripture verses to full memory. You may then continue the rotation of principles but pair an additional memory scripture. You can also begin a new way of review by asking him, “Give me a Bible account that shows there is only one true and real God.” Because of the focused, strategic, and sequential teaching you have provided, he should be able to answer with an account. If you say, “Give me one (or two, in time) scripture verse that tells us there is only one true and real God, he should be able to say, “Isaiah 44:6—I am the first, and I am the last, and beside me there is no God” (or whichever verse you selected). As time goes on and he prepares for his first day of kindergarten, you can role play with him some scenarios in which he should recall or recite a scripture verse or Bible account. THIS IS WHEN you’ll realize with understanding how critical these 5 things were for your child to understand as s/he enters kindergarten.
In conclusion, do you wish there was a Bible curriculum available that was already using these principles? Could there possibly be a Christian preschool curriculum complete with music and hands-on activities that uses this type of learning? And, if it is, could it please be affordable? Good news—check out www.dotcurriculum.com. And by the way, it’s totally free for anyone!