One of my favorite ways to educate and disciple our children 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!
Christian Classical Education divides learning into three distinct levels. I’ve further divided it into five levels. These levels of learning affect how you’ll teach the Bible for kids.
Levels of Learning the Bible for Kids
Since at least the time of Rome, Classical Education has been founded on the idea that students must first learn grammar, the study of language, followed by logic, the ability to reason, and rhetoric, the art of persuasion in either writing or in speech.
- Young children in the grammar stage are gifted at memorization and at soaking up information.
- Middle school aged children are in the logic stage. They have brains wired to connect information and to make arguments for those connections.
- High school students in the rhetoric stage have memorized information and created connections, and they’re ready to go into the world and persuade others of the truth they’ve discovered.
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.
You can use these stages, which I’ve refined to five levels of learning to effectively teach the Bible to your kids.
Levels of Learning in Bible Road Trip™
Bible Road Trip™ is a three-year Bible curriculum for preschool to high school.
There are five stages of learning used in Bible Road Trip™. Teaching your children the Bible at their current developmental stage helps them learn better, and it enables you to teach more than one child at the same time.
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.
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 level of learning develops, as it will help you understand the goal for your child.
1) The Preschool and Kindergarten Level of Learning (Ages 3-5)
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, simple Bible verse memorization, and a great video. Because young children are still working on learning their A, B, C’s and reading simple words, there are no Bible Road Trip™ notebooking pages for the Preschool and Kindergarten level.
You will find Bible Memory Verse Card sets available for the Preschool and Kindergarten stage. I taught preschool Sunday School for years, and with a little help, repetition, and enthusiasm, young children can learn and understand simple Bible verses.
2) The Lower Grammar Level of Learning (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.
Lower Grammar students are learning to write anywhere from a sentence to a paragraph or two at a time. The Lower Grammar Notebooking Journals will help your younger elementary children think through the stories and teaching they’ve read with you. As they draw and write their notes, they will create a lasting journal of their time in Scripture. They’ll also begin to learn good study skills and work on writing and copywork.
Early elementary school students are capable of memorizing Bible verses that will stick with them for a lifetime. The Bible Memory Verse Card sets for the Lower Grammar level include verses that are more complex than those chosen for the Preschool and Kindergarten level. There are few verses than the set for the Upper Grammar level, and the verses are often simpler, with just a sentence or two chosen rather than a passage.
3) The Upper Grammar Level of Learning (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 as it has in our home through high school, 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.
The Notebooking Journals for the Upper Grammar stage have line spacing appropriate to upper elementary school children, giving them more room to write. The journals are a fantastic way for children to develop higher thinking skills, handwriting, research skills, pre-writing skills, as well as to strengthen comprehension and retention.
The Bible Memory Verse Card Sets for the Upper Grammar stage introduce your kids to longer memory passages. Some weeks, Upper Grammar students will memorize different Scripture verses than Lower Grammar and Preschool and Kindergarten students. Upper Grammar stage children are adding depth to their knowledge.
4) The Dialectic Level of Learning (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 immediate biblical text by studying Scripture in the light of the whole Bible. 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 the 132-page My Timeline Notebook for you to use with your student’s studies.
The Notebooking Journals for the Dialectic stage have lines appropriate for middle school students. Your kids will have plenty of space to develop their ideas, comment on what they’ve learned, and jot down questions. The weekly research project will help students better understand Scripture in the time and space it was written in. They’ll learn about ancient cultures, the construction of the temple, different historical figures, and more.
The Bible Memory Verse Card Sets for the Dialectic stage have more important Bible passages to memorize. Additionally, students will begin a project to memorize a few verses of the book of Romans each week. By the end of Year Three, your Dialectic and Rhetoric students will memorize 12 chapters of Romans, a theologically rich book of the Bible.
5) The Rhetoric Level of Learning (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 level of learning 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 to tackle these excellent texts.
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 three-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.
Because students in the Rhetoric stage are headed to college and/or adult life, they have two options for notebooking. Either they can keep their own notes in a notebook they purchase, highlighting what is important to them, or they can use the Dialectic level Notebooking Journals.
The Bible Memory Verse Card Sets for the Rhetoric stage have a rigorous schedule of Bible passages to memorize. If you’ve used Bible Road Trip™ with your children at the younger levels, they will already have memorized a number of the passages and will be adding to their knowledge. Additionally, students will begin a project to memorize a few verses of the book of Romans each week. By the end of Year Three, your Dialectic and Rhetoric students will memorize 12 chapters of Romans, a theologically rich book of the Bible.
Those are the five levels of learning utilized in Bible Road Trip™. I hope this helps you understand better the objectives of teaching each stage of learning.
Free Bible Road Trip™ Year One Curriculum Pack
Subscribe to Thinking Kids below 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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