One of my favorite ways to educate and disciple our children–both before we homeschooled, and now as we educate at home–has always been to gather at the couch, read aloud, discuss what we’ve learned, then apply those lessons in some concrete way. As children age, this approach changes a bit. After all, we want to help our children own their faith in Christ. Part of discipleship is passing the torch onto another believer. What a blessing to be able to do that for our children!
Bible Road Trip™ allows every family member to survey the Bible at their own developmental level, and still be able to discuss the week’s lessons at the dinner table. You’ll notice that each developmental level is studying the same area of Scripture at the same time, yet with a different emphasis. Bible Road Trip™ is designed so that a child beginning the program in preschool can cycle through the Bible survey five times before they leave home. Each trip through the Bible will provide a deeper, richer experience. This design follows the Christian Classical model of education.
Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn of Trivium Pursuit have written a terrific article “Definition for Classical Education” on the different developmental or learning stages employed in Christian Classical Education. Their work may help clarify some of the thinking behind the stages if you wish to do further research…..
I’m going to briefly outline the five grade levels employed in Bible Road Trip. Please do not feel constrained by the grades I’ve listed. I have put grades in to help you choose a level that is appropriate, but the program levels are based on the developmental stages of learning: Preschool/Kindergarten, Grammar, Dialectic (or Logic), and Rhetoric. You’ll want to have an idea about how each stage develops, as it will help you understand the goal for your child.
Preschool / Kindergarten
At this stage, children will be gaining familiarity with the Bible. You’ll be addressing basic topics like sin and salvation, and introducing kids to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The program at this level consists of reading aloud, crafts, Bible verse memorization, and a great video.
Lower Grammar ~ Grades 1-3
The grammar developmental stage is all about gathering facts, information, and knowledge. Children in the lower grammar stage delight in learning new things. The world is a fascinating adventure, and YOU are the tour guide! This is a wonderful age to introduce children to the Bible. As they learn about God’s Great Book, they’re laying a foundation for the rest of their lives. Bible Road Trip will help your children understand that the Scriptures are more than just random stories. The Bible is the story of God’s plan for redemption for the human race.
Children this age love highly visual resources, fun songs, hands-on crafts, and time spent with Mom and Dad (or Grandma and Grandpa!). The program at this stage is all about building a framework to understand the Bible. This is foundation on which their understanding of the Bible can be built.
Upper Grammar ~ Grades 4-6
Upper Grammar students also delight in gathering knowledge. Their brains are ready to soak up whatever they encounter. What better information to encounter, but the Word of God? As Upper Grammar students progress, they can take on more of their learning on their own. If you have not started a daily Bible reading program with your child, you may want to begin by reading the Bible aloud together, and end in Year 3 with your child reading silently, then meeting with you later to discuss the reading. At this developmental stage, it is wise to support your child’s educational journey, yet to allow them greater freedom to learn on their own. Perhaps Scripture reading will remain a family activity, and notebooking will be an individual project.
Children at this age are growing, and we must watch them for clues as to their needs. Bible Road Trip for the Upper Grammar student is still highly visual, relational, and creative. Traveling through the Word of God is an exciting adventure, and the middle grade years are an important time to begin, or continue, the journey. Is your first to third grader ready for a little greater challenge? Move them up to Upper Grammar! Is your fourth grader struggling with one too many Bible memory verses? Adjust it to the Lower Grammar level, or something in between. Don’t worry about grades or ages–we’re concerned about developmental stages. As your children develop a deepening understanding of the Bible, they will be able to take on greater challenges, and to layer in more information.
Dialectic ~ Grades 7-9
The Dialectic stage can be among the most challenging for parents. These are the ages at which children are developing a greater understanding of connections. They’re making developmental leaps, and looking for ways to relate the knowledge they’ve gathered. This is the Logic stage–where everything is a debate, and everything is negotiable. Our tendency, as parents, can be to throw up our hands at this age and walk away. Instead, let us delight in the fantastic mental pathways our children are forming! The Dialectic stage is vital. Our kids are learning to debate, to stand on their own beliefs, and develop a deep understanding of Scripture on their own. I can think of no more important time in childhood to depend upon the Lord for strength, to persevere, and to marvel in the opportunity we have to disciple growing human beings.
Bible Road Trip for the Dialectic student will encourage children to develop research skills, and to make connections not found in the text. Many of the notebooking and crafting projects for this age will incorporate information that will help your children put a solid structure of understanding on the foundation they are already building. Mini-research projects, a timeline (because events in the Bible occurred in history– and we know when! ), and an increasing challenge to learn about–and pray for–believers around the world are all a part of the Dialectic level of Bible Road Trip. I have intentionally left a lot of room for creativity in Bible Road Trip. I want you, and your children, to be able to own this journey.
To help you with the Dialectic timeline project, I’ve created this free 132-page My Timeline Notebook for you to download and print.
Rhetoric ~ Grades 10-12
The Rhetoric developmental stage is truly a time for children to take the wheel. On this Bible Road Trip, your high school aged students should be driving, and you should become a trusted navigator and companion. In the Rhetoric stage, young adults begin to apply all the knowledge and the logic they’ve gathered and connected. This is the stage at which your children will begin to venture into the world, to develop wisdom, to communicate what they’ve learned. The Rhetoric stage allows young men and women to apply what they’ve learned in a supported environment, to dig deeper, to own their faith, and to develop their walk with Christ.
Bible Road Trip for the Rhetoric student should be a challenge. Encountering the Old Testament and Encountering the New Testament are beginning college level texts. A student who has been trained to think, and who has been educated and discipled consistently, should be challenged by the resources, yet not stymied. If your student has not trained him or herself to think deeply yet, you may consider using the Dialectic text instead; this will still provide your child with an excellent overview of the Bible. However, if you are spiraling upward through the levels in Bible Road Trip, the previous stages should have prepared your Rhetoric student sufficiently.
Because Rhetoric students are moving into an adult role, in which they are able to appropriately communicate their faith and their wisdom, the Crafting Through the Word section includes a 3 year project in which your student will begin a blog or a vlog (a video version of a blog) to communicate what he or she is learning on a weekly basis. I understand that there may be concerns about internet safety. I leave all decisions about whether to actually publish your student’s work online at your discretion. Should you be uncomfortable with a public format, students can make a series of videos, edit them and store them on a DVD. They can publish to a private blog, or just keep a notebook of “blog” entries. Alternately, they could begin their own small group, in which they lead (with your supervision) a Bible Road Trip of their own, a week or two behind their personal studies. Rhetoric students are preparing to share their faith. Whether they practice, or actually make the leap to a public forum, is up to your family. The Lord has placed you as their shepherd, and I trust your discernment. The Rhetoric level will also feature a deepening emphasis on service and community involvement. Again, all suggestions are intended to allow your young adult to develop a faith and a walk of their own.
Subscribe to Thinking Kids right now to receive your free Bible Road Trip™ Year One Curriculum Pack.
- The Bible Road Trip™ Parent / Teacher Guide
- The Bible Road Trip™ Suggested Schedule
- Bible Road Trip™ Year One Curriculum–The first three weeks
- Bible Road Trip™ Year One Notebooking Journals–All three levels, the first three weeks
- Bible Road Trip™ Year One Bible Memory Cards–All five levels, both ESV and KJV, the first three weeks
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~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is the author of When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther (Fortress Press, 2015), Wonderfully Made (CF4K, 2016), and Bible Road Trip. Her work has been featured in internationally-recognized children's magazines over 150 times.