As previously posted, infants to 2 year olds experience Undifferentiated Faith. When they see parents and teachers love on them and offer security and attention, they experience biblical teachings through relationships with persons who live the Bible message.
3 year old preschoolers then experience Intuitive-Projective Faith when the Bible becomes a very special book that tells about God and Jesus.
4 and 5 year olds through 11-12 go through the Mythic-Literal Faith stage which the Bible becomes very important. It’s like God wired these little disciples to be naturally drawn to hear Bible stories about persons who tried to live as God wanted. And they realize that the most important stories in the Bible are about Jesus. They like to handle bibles, say and sing bible verses, and thoroughly enjoy watching older persons using the Bible.
Robert J. Keely in Helping Our Children Grow In Faith (2008) stated, “We need to take advantage of this developmental readiness to share these stores with them in a way that allows children to live inside of the stories.” Children entering this stage are greatly influenced by the stories of faith, the stories of the faith of people around him/her, his/her own stories of faith, and biblical accounts of faith. Kids begin to connect these stories together , but don’t yet see them as one large story that starts, “In the beginning God” and ends with “Amen” which truly begins in the middle school years.
Story is important to all of us in our faith formation, but is is especially important at this stage, because it grabs their attention when they are not equipped to be taught through abstract reasoning. The bible stories help provide a standard of what is right and what is wrong.
These bible stories give children a sense of who they are and what it means to be the people of God. These are family stories and they are important at this stage in faith development. Like sitting at the table of a family reunion and hearing the stories of the family. We need to tell them often and we need to tell them well.
The language of preschoolers is activity, so we take the time to act out Bible stories and imagine what it might have been like to actually be there. In the story. These stores are rich and deep and should not use them as a way to teach a moral lesson. If we do this we will be merely giving children a checklist of dos and don’t s instead of introducing them to the stories of God and His people. God introduces Himself to us in these stories and they help us know Him and know ourselves.
It is also at this stage of early and middle elementary years when miracles are entirely credible to these young minds. No problem is too big for God and they can pray in complete confidence. There is much for adults to learn when they are a part of the prayer life of such a young disciple.
These students of faith also enjoy hearing the same stories, singing the same songs, enjoying the same activities over and over again. This dependability builds trust. And since you, the teacher, are trustworthy and you speak of God as trustworthy, the child says, “I can trust God because I trust my teacher, and my teacher tells me God loves me.”
Our goal is to teach our kids that the Bible is exciting and relevant for them. That’s why, when we finish a story, we want to ask the question, “What is the lesson learned here?” which is how an older preschooler through older elementary can make the biblical application to their lives.
What are you doing to more effectively share these family stories?