The verdict is in. Most children lost ground academically during the pandemic. In fact, some school systems have as few as 20% of their students reading on grade level by third grade. Even students who are on grade level academically can lose some ground over the summer. Reviewing and practicing the skills they will need to use in the coming school year doesn’t have to be dull and boring. In fact, you can even teach your kids the things God wants them to know while you are having fun practicing academic skills.
The Teach One Reach One Ministries website (www.teachonereachone.org) has tons of activities that combine Bible lessons and academic skill practice. Even better is the fact that the activities are not only hands-on, meaningful and memorable, but they are also fun. Although the activities were designed for faith based tutoring, they can easily be adapted for use with one or two children.
Activities are arranged by both Bible stories and category. With activities connected to over 200 Bible stories, your kids will most likely learn a lot of new Bible stories, too. You can find activities for Bible lessons (these specific activities are not tied to other academic skills), application lessons, service projects, ESL (the activities can be used with any second language), basic and advanced elementary language arts and math, science, health/hygiene and even sustenance and survival.
You will find the activity ideas under the “lesson plans” tab on our website. Choose children’s activity ideas and you will have access to hundreds of great ideas for your kids this summer! Best of all, they are free thanks to our generous donors! While you are there, you may also want to check out our free Living the Christian Life curriculum written to help older children and teens learn crucial Christian life skills.
Have fun with your kids this summer teaching them about God and reviewing important academic skills. It’s a great way to spend the summer!
Because of the nature of the ministry at Teach One Reach One Ministries (the parent ministry of Parenting Like Hannah), it is easier for us to see needs not just in a specific congregation, but globally for the church as a whole. In spite of what you may have read, we believe the church will always have a need for people with certain skill sets and gifts to share their knowledge or talents with people in other locations. In addition, there are some people groups who are so unreached by Christianity that the harvest will at least temporarily need workers from other areas to help reap it. (Matthew 9:35-38)
The problem is that often the people most able to help don’t speak the local language(s). Even more challenging, people who are deaf worldwide have only a handful of people who can sign to them about God. In many countries, those who are deaf do not attend school and cannot read or write. It is estimated the deaf is one of the largest unreached (by Christianity) people groups worldwide. Complicating it even more, American Sign Language is just that – American. Often each country and sometimes each village can have a unique sign language which may bear no resemblance to the others.
You probably can guess where this post is headed, but there is one more area to cover. The Bible has yet to be translated into some of the more obscure languages which still have often thousands of speakers. Many times, Christians have to move to and live in these remote areas to learn the obscure language in hopes of aiding in the translation of the Bible. Some have even had to help develop a written language as the local language has only been spoken.
We need more young people to become truly fluent in multiple languages to serve as interpreters. Or to teach in a second or third language. Or to learn an obscure language and help translate the Bible. Or to translate written ministry resources into other languages.
Why do I say truly fluent? The American educational system makes us and our children think we are fluent in a language when most of us are not. When I have had native speakers grade translations by Americans, the average grade is a ”C” and most ministries need that to be an ”A” to be truly helpful. You and your children will have to go beyond the lessons most schools provide, doing extra work to become truly fluent. Consider mastering a more obscure spoken language or a sign language in addition to ASL. You may want to do a little research and find which languages would be most helpful. Surprisingly, Spanish is one of those languages, as it is almost impossible to find someone who will translate ministry resources on a volunteer basis. (The cost is prohibitive.)
Preparing your children for ministry may include giving them the opportunities to master additional languages. Not every child will be able to (or want to) do it, but for those who are, it will make them more equipped to help reap the spiritual harvest in areas that are underserved.
As someone who homeschooled our child from 5th through 12th grade I understand the many reasons and benefits of homeschooling. I also remember how many resources are available for homeschoolers now and how quickly the expenses can add up. Which is why as we developed Teach One Reach One Ministries, we kept our homeschooling friends in mind. We have tons of free, quality resources developed by trained educators that you can use in your homeschool as well as ministries serving children and teens.
Here are some of the free resources you can find on our website.
Bible lessons. You will find over 200 free Bible lessons on our website. They include links to the scriptures, learning objectives, interesting facts and activity ideas. They are designed to be worked in through out the school day for elementary children.
Bible lesson activity ideas. While designed for classes of children, most activities are easily adapted for one or two children. The activities help children explore details of the story or learn about its application principles. The activities are hands on, experiential, meaningful ones to help engage your kids in learning about God.
Service project ideas with meaningful ties to Bible stories. Service learning is great for helping your kids practice things they are learning while serving others and sharing their faith. Our website has 149 service project ideas.
Living the Christian Life Christian life skills lessons. Developed for teens, these lessons can also be adapted for older children. Each includes a Bible lesson, skills activity and application challenge. They will help you explore Christian life skills with your children like conflict resolution, handling money and much more.
Elementary academic skills activities tied to Bible stories . Originally developed for faith based tutoring, these activities can help your kids practice elementary level language arts, math, science and health and hygiene skills in the context of a Bible story. We hope to add a scope and sequence soon to make it easier for you to find specific skill sets. (Currently, the are grouped by category and Bible story.)
Activities for learning a new language tied to Bible stories. Originally designed to be used in ESL classes, these engaging activities have meaningful ties to Bible stories and the words for any language could be substituted for English.
Sustenance and survival activities with ties to Bible stories. Originally created to help children growing up in places without adequate resources or for scout troops, these activities can be used to teach your kids skills that aren’t usually taught to young people, but could prove helpful in ministry or real life emergencies. Skills include things like finding fresh water, various types of gardening, navigating by stars, predicting weather without instruments and more.
Educational best practices books. Concerned because you don’t have a degree in education? These free ebooks were designed for ministry purposes, but parents and homeschoolers will find lots of helpful information in Effective Children’s MinistryandEffective Teen Ministry.
Baptism study. Want to study baptism with your child, but not sure where to begin? This free ebook gives you the framework you need to feel confident.
Family devotionals. Search our parenting blog for lots of free family devotional ideas.
All of our resources are free, thanks to the generous donations of our supporters. Please feel free to share this post and links with other homeschoolers. May God bless you as you educate your children.
Gone are the days when snow, water outages or pandemics meant children stayed home with no academic responsibilities. Virtual learning means school continues – no matter what. There are several hidden gifts in those virtual days, however. Cutting out travel time and extra curricular activities means your kids have extra free time in their days. Why not claim some of that for God?
There are lots of great ways to add activities that encourage your kids to spend time with God and learn more about Him. Here are a few of our favorites.
Take a snow stroll. The Bible tells us God’s creation points us to Him. Snow changes how the world looks, sounds and even smells. Take your kids for a stroll, asking them to point out the things that are different from a regular non-snow day. Older kids may enjoy taking photos that show the beauty of God’s blessing of snow. Over a cup of hot cocoa after your walk, ask your kids why they think the things they saw could point people to God.
Practice academic skills with a biblical framework. Our website has tons of activity ideas tied to Bible stories and academic skills like language arts, math, second languages, science, health and even survival skills. Look around for some skills your kids need to practice. Have fun teaching them the connected Bible story and doing the activity. (http://teachonereachone.org/activity-ideas/)
Have a family devotional. What better time to start that family devotional habit? Our website can be searched for family devotional ideas or use some of the activity ideas on our ministry website.
Serve one of your neighbors. Make some soup or homemade bread for a neighbor. Offer to shovel their sidewalk. Find ways for your family to serve others around you with some of your extra time.
Teach your kids a Christian life skill. Our free teen curriculum can be adapted for older children, too. In addition to the Bible lesson, you will find activities teaching your kids important Christian life skills like godly conflict resolution. They also give your kids guided practice, so they will know how to do what God wants them to do.
Encourage your kids to discover, develop and/or use the talents God gave them to serve Him. Your kids probably have things they have wanted to try, but never seem to have the time to do. Encourage them to take some time to try or read about a possible new talent. Or let them work on developing a talent they’ve already discovered or help them find a way to serve someone using one of their talents.
The next time your kids have a virtual learning day, use some of that redeemed time to teach them something God wants them to know or encourage them to use some of that time spending time with God and serving Him. It’s a great way to help your kids build a strong faith foundation and reach their godly potential.
There is a lot of misinformation floating around Christian circles about how children were perceived, educated and involved in spiritual life during the time of Jesus and in the early Church. Often this misinformation is based on writers who didn’t thoroughly research the topic or didn’t have access to primary source documents and then that incomplete or inaccurate information used as an excuse for the often subpar spiritual education provided by Churches (i.e. “It’s the parents’ responsibility, not the Church’s, to provide quality spiritual education for children. It wasn’t provided during Bible times, so why do we need to provide it now? It’s not an issue if young people aren’t really learning anything in our Bible classes.”)
The reality of spiritual education for Jesus and other Jewish children during his childhood and for the children of early Christians was more nuanced. The reality of spiritual education in those times does not in any way remove the responsibility of the Christian community found in the Church to assist parents by providing quality spiritual training for children. This post may be a bit more academic than most of our posts, but if you want to engage in meaningful conversations on the topic, you need to be armed with some helpful background information.
First, those who dismiss or minimize the need for quality religious instruction in ministry settings are at least partially correct. In the early Old Testament times, parents were the primary source of spiritual education. In fact, parents did not view childhood as a time to focus on play, but rather on preparing for adulthood both spiritually and in the roles their children would play as adults.
Parents actively taught their children the scriptures, gave them correction when they disobeyed or showed character that was not what God would want and modeled the life God wanted them to live. They also used the various Feasts in the Bible as interactive ways to review important Bible stories, commands and principles. Children were also expected to sit and listen whenever the priests read the Law to the people.
Things changed when the Jews were taken into captivity and again when they returned. The synagogues began during captivity to replace at least some of the functions of the destroyed Temple. They were kept upon the people’s return to Israel and it seems every village had its own synagogue that was used for worship and as a school for children.
Synagogues were tasked with keeping the people on track spiritually through teaching and other activities. This included helping the parents educate their children. In 75 B.C.E. elementary education was declared compulsory, so Jesus, like all of the other Jewish children of his time would have attended school at the local synagogue. There is some debate about how much education girls were given, with the general consensus that primarily boys attended the synagogue schools, but girls were often homeschooled with a similar curriculum.
The teachers used what we call the Old Testament as the only textbook. Children began attending school at about the same age as children today. They were taught to read using the Bible and were tasked with memorizing large portions of scripture including Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:13-21, Numbers 15:37-41, Psalms 113-118 (chapters), the first several chapters of Genesis and the essence of Leviticus/the Law. They also each had to memorize a portion of scripture that was determined by the child’s name and contained about twenty verses. They of course were also taught what the scriptures meant and how to live them in their lives.
There were two basic types of synagogue schools in the time of Jesus. The one Jesus attended focused more on the spiritual teachings of the Law and the Prophets rather than the many oral traditions that had developed over the years. Children were also taught mathematics, astronomy and the natural sciences, which they somehow related back to the scriptures. There is thought that the science lessons were actually based on writings of Solomon that are no longer available, although I couldn’t find any actual evidence those existed and were used in synagogue schools.
In the afternoon, children went home to learn a trade they would ply as adults. This means about four hours a day were spent in active religious instruction in addition to what the parents taught and reinforced at home. This amount of time is interesting, because recent research is finding kids who are engaged in about 15-20 hours a week spiritually (including independent engagement in spiritual disciplines, worship and conversations about God) were more likely to be active, productive Christians as adults than children who spent much less time engaged in spiritual pursuits as children.
The early Christians must have realized the necessity of controlling their children’s education fairly early. After the split with Judaism and the inclusion of Gentiles in Christianity, the synagogue schools would have no longer been an option. Not enough research has been done on the topic, but the little that has been done suggests an early mix of education for children raised in Christian homes.
Many children who were not Jewish had been attending secular Roman schools. Some parents initially left their children in those schools and supplemented with religious instruction at home. Unfortunately, Roman schools also taught Roman morals and the Roman religion which did not align with Christianity. As a result, it appears many Christians began homeschooling their children. As the persecution of Christians began to die down, the first Christian schools emerged to help parents.
Spiritual education for children was a top priority for the Jews and the early Christians. In fact, the Talmud says, “The world is preserved by the breath of children in the schools.” The Talmud also says, “Jerusalem was destroyed because the education of children was neglected.” It’s important to remember the goal of education was spiritual – not secular – even though some secular topics were taught. The writers of the Talmud realized, the moment they stopped doing their very best to teach their children what God wanted them to know, was also the moment everything fell apart. If we look at the world around us and the Church at large, we may be seeing the same dynamic at play. It’s past time to make the spiritual education of our children our number one priority.