Our Favorite Bible Study

The longer I teach, the more I learn.  And forget.  And learn all over again.

The thing I have relearned lately:  learning is a simple thing.

If I remember that and don’t complicate, learning is also effortless and fun – for me and for my kids.

Lately, we’ve been starting our school day with Bible study.  All of us sitting around the kitchen table, quietly reading and writing for 30 minutes, 5 mornings a week.

I wonder if and hope that our morning times will be a fond memory and impact the faith of my children.  Corrie Ten Boom recalled her family’s regular Bible study around their kitchen table with great affection and her faith certainly withstood horrors most of us will never face.I.

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We generally start our day with family school, all together, before all four children disperse to their individual assignments.  Though I sense that my 2 eldest are beginning to silently chafe at this imposition on their time, I keep at it.  I understand their desire to be about their day and get their work out of the way.  But I am determined to push back demands and intrusions and create a quiet spot in our mornings, thirty minutes of silence and a slow pace of reading, writing, thinking.

I set the timer and we all sit at the table with our Bibles and moleskine notebooks, pens and colored pencils.  We are copying the book of Mark.  The only rules — copy scripture as carefully and neatly as possible on the right side.  The left side is for drawings, notes, questions about the section of scripture copied that day.

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When our timer rings, we close our Bibles and share observations, questions or artwork.

That is it.

No lectures from me.  The kids do as much or more talking than I do.

And I learn what is on their hearts when I shut up and listen.  It is too, too easy for me to stay in constant teacher/parent mode – talking, instructing, rebuking, making a teaching moment out of every blasted thing.  My kids are quite capable of making their own teaching moments, when I back off and let them.

I know this well, so it is particularly embarrassing when I catch myself over-teaching.  It is easily recognizable by the glazed look in the kids’ eyes.

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Through their Bible journals, I see their struggles.

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I see their unique interpretations.

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I see what captures their attention.  My eldest is not prone to illustrations nor writing his thoughts as much as his siblings.   In fact, almost every left page of his journal is blank.  He spends his 30 minutes copying a section and then studying footnotes or reading ahead.

However, the story of the demon-possessed man whom Jesus freed by sending the evil spirits into thousands of pigs —- well, that story intrigued him enough to  draw little stick piggies.  And we wondered . . . why did the demons prefer to be sent into pigs rather than be cast out?  Did they know know the pigs would dive over the cliff?  Did the demons purposely send the pigs over the cliff themselves in an attempt to draw negative attention to Jesus?

The text is ambiguous, leaving us free to speculate on the motives of both the demons and Jesus.  And speculate we did after we got over laughing at his stick piggies and sharks in the Sea of Galilee.  Learning is always best when accompanied by laughter.

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I also see applications.  My youngest made a heart chart of the world.  According to her chart, there are more black-hearted people in the world (12 to be exact) than red- or Jesus-hearted people (only 10).  We got to chat about how people are not all black-hearted or Jesus-hearted.  We all have a bit of black in our hearts.

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I am learning so much.  After all these years of teaching and studying the Bible different ways with my kids, this is definitely my favorite way of doing Bible Study with them.

Teaching what I don’t know

or what I don’t care to know.  (Shhh!  Don’t tell my children.  Even I, learning-lover that I am, have my limits, and chemistry is one of them.  Or so I thought.)

Sometimes, I get someone else to teach.  A violin teacher teachrs violin.  A cello teacher teaches cello.  Sometimes, I take a breath, jump in and learn what I don’t know along with the kids.

Other times, I get lucky.  Very lucky.

Teaching my eldest child chemistry was one of those very lucky times.  I just taught him to read.  Then his curiosity and natural preferences led him to science books, absorbing facts like a sponge.  He has loved chemistry, in particular, since he was 4 yo and still goes to bed with chemistry books as leisure reading.  I can confidently say that the boy is engaged and knows far more than the average college graduate about chemistry.

One of the most exciting things about being a parent is watching the kids take off on their own, in ways that have little to do with me, seeing them develop interests and skills vastly different from my own.

Sidney teaches chemistry.

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I was also feeling quite lucky that Sidney was my eldest.  I had grand plans of him teaching his younger siblings chemistry, so I could schlepp out of it.

Teaching his younger siblings would cement his chemistry knowledge, I reasoned.  I didn’t count on having fun myself and learning chemistry too.  Life is funny like that, working out differently than our Plans.

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Since my younger children tend more toward the humanities than sciences, I asked Sidney to help me teach them now to ease their way into high school chemistry later.  My Plan was to whet their appetites and create a chemistry-learning drive inside them such that I could stand aside and . . .well, basically do ANYTHING ELSE during their high school chemistry studies.

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But from reading over their notes of big brother’s teaching,

coloring and labeling Period Tables with them,

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looking at the huge Period Table of Elements taking over my wall, I am getting sucked into learning Chemistry too.  Against my Plan.

It turns out that some things I thought would be dreadful, like teaching chemistry, are actually cool and exciting.

Our Wall of Elements

Invitation

Last week, I opened the doors wide, the outside air breathing fall into the house. That open door became a gathering place.

First, a dog came to the doorway and waited at the threshold, observing the movements of her humans.

Then, a girl sat in the doorway and read her history book to her dog.

Finally, a sister joined the girl and the dog.

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