Teaching children faith language

July 7th, 2017

We often begin speaking to children while they are still in the womb, and immediately after a child is born we begin engaging with children verbally. Infants and toddlers are sponges for information and particularly attentive to language. Before nine months old, babies are easily able to distinguish between five different languages, and by the time they are three years old, children have heard up to forty-five million words. But how many of these words have been about faith?

It is important to teach children everyday words such as 'yes' and 'no', 'please' and 'thank you,' and 'happy' and 'sad.' But when do they begin hearing words of faith such as 'God,' 'love,' 'Jesus,' 'church,' 'creator?' Why not begin sharing words of faith from the beginning of a child’s life? Faith must be an imperative part of our sharing with children so that they, too, can be on a lifelong faith journey.

I recently heard a lecture by Dawn Rundman about ministry with babies and toddlers. She shared that we baptize our babies, but then wait until the age of three to send them to Sunday school. When we use this model, we miss important and formative years to share our faith with our children. Rundman also recognizes that it is hard work to be a parent, and to have to add something else to our ‘parenting list’ can be daunting. But you do not have to be a religious expert to share faith with your children. Sharing faith language with children can be done simply through reading Bible stories, looking at pictures and images, saying a prayer together, and reminding children they are loved by God. Dawn also shared that infants and toddlers learn more from a face-to-face interaction than from a screen. Doing simple activities such as holding a child in your lap and reading them a story about God’s love will have formative faith implications.

Here are some suggestions of Bibles and books you might wish to read with your children:

Deep Blue Toddler Bible Storybook — Daphna Flegal and Kerry Blackwood

God Gave Us You  Lisa Tawn Bergren

Goodnight, Ark  Laura Sassi

Goodnight, Manger  Laura Sassi

My First Bible Stories  Tomie dePaola

Rock-a-Bye God Loves Me  Daphna Flegal

The Family Story Bible  Ralph Milton

What Does God Look Like?  & Where is God? — Lawrence and Karen Kushner

comments powered by Disqus