Teaching Bible in the Primary Grades

The teacher of Bible must have a thorough knowledge of the Bible as a whole, for this sacred history is not a disconnected list of episodes having no bearing one upon another but are firmly woven together by the all-purposeful God so that each “story” can only be understood in the light of the rest of God’s Word. Even though it is difficult for young children to grasp the meaning of the one purpose of God from the beginning of creation, nevertheless an attempt should be made to make them aware of this fact lest they look upon the Bible merely as a “nice story book,” It must also be brought out that this is an inspired account of what happened years ago.

In order to present the Bible and its truths to young children successfully it is necessary that the teacher not only have a thorough knowledge of the whole Word of God but that he also be sincere and love that Word. The sincerity and enthusiasm of the teacher can in a large measure be sensed even by very young children. Try coldly reading a Bible story to children. Then tell them the same story in simple language, living the story with perhaps a few gestures and direct eye contact. You will see that the latter method produces much greater interest and retention of facts. Of course this does not mean that we should depend on Bible Story Books to the exclusion of the Bible. The teacher must read and re-read the Biblical account of each story to be sure that nothing but the truth is presented. She must also be very careful how she puts the Biblical account into childlike language for often children will draw wrong conclusions merely from the manner in which something is stated. As the child grows older and his vocabulary is increased the Biblical account can also be read.

However the Bible course should not be limited to the hearing of the Bible story. Young children learn best when permitted to be active themselves. Thus the re-telling of the story by one of the pupils serves this purpose in one way. It also provides a means of review for without repetition the story is forgotten. Another way is to utilize the questioning nature of youngsters. Let them ask questions, and in answering then guide them to the central idea or lesson of the story. Foundations must be laid even now for a life that may serve to the honor and glory of our Maker.

Another phase of primary Bible study is that of visual aids such as pictures, maps, and objects. It is not wise to press the geography of a story to the foreground at this age although it may he mentioned in passing. Gradually he will become more and more aware of the part geography plays in each story.

Of course we must not forget memory work.

Passages which are chosen must not be beyond the comprehension of the child of that age level. It should be meaningful to the pupil and therefore should be chosen in connection with the current lessons. Two important keys to memorization for youngsters are frequent repetition and review. It is wise to have the entire class listen while individuals recite (a few at a time lest it become tiring). It should he stressed that a passage he thoroughly learned so the child will need no prompting. Also it should not be recited merely as a string of words but with meaning and expression.

In conclusion you will note that a well-rounded Bible course is desirable in the primary grades as well as later in the upper grades.