Let’s start at the top breaking down this eclectic homeschooling thing!
Bible should be the first “subject” we teach. Now, you know I’m not a big fan of Bible being compartmentalized (thus the reason the word subject is in quotation marks), and the free-spirited homeschool side of me wants homeschooling to be a lifestyle, not a method, so please understand, the suggestions here are not something you do so you can checkmark a box. I’m going to walk you through Bible study ideas and resources that will be outside the box – which fits perfectly with the eclectic homeschooling personality!
Because I do not recommend doing any FORMAL Bible study with children younger than junior high age, I am going to start by giving you resources and suggestions for infusing Bible into your entire day with younger children. Then, we’ll move on to the older children.
Bible Resources & Suggestions for Non-Readers
Before your children can read, they are totally dependent on you to feed them their Scripture. This is such a crucial time, and a FUN time too! They are little sponges and getting God’s Truth in them isn’t a difficult task.
For years now, I’ve read to my non-readers and early readers (more on them in a bit) from a Story Bible first thing in the morning following Morning Chores and breakfast. If I was more awake in the mornings, I would definitely do this at the breakfast table, but between late nights with the older kids and middle-of-the-night feedings with the newborn, I don’t have the wherewithal to do that right now. So, we clear the table from breakfast and meet in the parlor. (The older kids head off to do their own Bible study time, or sit in on the reading as well – you can always learn something new!)
Here is a list of the Story Bibles we have used – I like to keep this time MEATY. There are many more out there, but I’m only going to list the ones we’ve personally used:
The Child’s Story Bible
Mighty Acts of God
Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible (1932 edition)
Over the years, I have also added in Character Studies during this same time period. I like to choose something a wide range of ages can understand (make sure you are always dialoguing during this time too!). This is where I would plug in any resources I have found online (think Pinterest) or in bundle sales.
Here are a few we have used in the past:
Proverbs People – Volume 1 by the Boyers
Proverbs Study Guide – Volume 1
(note: this was pretty heavy at times, and in classic Kevin Swanson style – a little dismal – but I would still recommend it if you are willing to stay intellectually engaged and help your children digest it.)
Fruit of the Spirit Children’s Devotional
I have even used an old KONOS manual I was gifted many years ago!
Honestly, this is a great place to exercise your eclectic-ness! You have the freedom to try lots of different resources and find ones that your family LOVES! This is also a good place to fit in a read-aloud like a YWAM missionary heroes book.
Now, on to the rest of our day…
I’ve told you before that we always start with the Rod & Staff ABC series for our preschoolers when they decide they want to do school. This isn’t because this is “Christian” curriculum, but because it is one more way to create dialogue with our children about God’s greatness while teaching them skills. However, the best way we’ve found to infuse the love and greatness of our Creator is through allowing our children to run and play out of doors. I remember reading once that the Amish feel it is important for their children to spend a lot of time out of doors because it helps them to know and love God. I wholeheartedly agree!
Read this post to learn more about letting your children learn through curiosity.
In my mind, the curriculum is not the real issue. You can use a curriculum for your non-readers or not, but whatever you do – BE INTENTIONAL.
I want to add a quick note here – I do not advocate contrived teaching (for lack of a better phrase). LIVE YOUR FAITH OUT LOUD, but don’t feel like every word that comes from your mouth to your little one’s ears needs to be saying something directly about Jesus. YOUR LIFE should say something about Jesus.
We dialogue all day long, we interact all day long, we feast and have fun! We want our life to point to Christ. No, we don’t always get it right, but that isn’t the point! The real point is that we are striving by God’s grace to honor Him!
At the end of the day, we try to have a Family Worship time. This is more of a training time than anything for our little ones. We read the Bible and sing, and I work to keep them sitting and respectful of God’s Word and the person reading.
After that, I like to put the little ones down by reading something short to them and praying with them and then turning on some Scripture Music. This is usually a light-hearted and slow-paced time – we still end up with a lot of discussions, but I prefer this time to be short and sweet (what can I say, I’m tired too!).
We are currently reading the Snuggle Time series from Tyndale. (Here’s my review of this series.) There are 3 books in the series. They are short, but thoughtful (and I rarely get by with reading just one to the kids!).
After that, we help them say prayers by guiding them with some ideas of things to pray for and about. If we’ve had a late night, we will often say a group prayer rather than an individual prayer. It’s good for them to hear mom and dad pray for them…even if you simply say, “Please help Junior learn to obey.” 😉
Then, I turn on some music, and pray they stay in bed. (just being real here) One of my favorites is Scripture Lullabies. (You can read my full review here.)
Bible Resources and Suggestions for Early Readers
As soon as our children can read reasonably well, they receive a Bible of their own! Be sure it is in the SAME TRANSLATION your family uses for devotions or your pastor uses at church. This allows them to follow along.
We encourage them to read a few passages every day as they are able. They also listen in with the younger children during the morning story Bible and character studies. (see above) My 10 year old is also reading through the YWAM missionary books on her own. This has sparked a lot of great discussions.
(She just finished this one.)
Another thing I do a lot of is leave Christian resources laying around the house. If I find something I want my children to read, I just leave it somewhere. They devour it!
I also try to bring things out at meal times like the latest Voice of the Martyrs magazine or the letter we received from Samaritan’s Purse. My plan is print off some maps from this free website and put them on the wall in the dining room so the kids can readily see where some of the things we read about are taking place.
We are also going to start using a resource I’ve had my eye on for a while and managed to get in the Build Your Bundle sale – The PictureSmart Bible!
I am really excited about this! These are templates your children colors and fills in to enhance their understanding of Scripture. And yes, I’m going to do them along with them!
Bible Resources and Suggestions for Jr. High & High School
When your children get to this age, it’s time to assess their individual needs in the area of Bible. This is the time to deepen their walk, give them answers they need, prepare them for the world.
Do not expect every child to be a believer at this point in their lives. That’s not YOUR job, and you haven’t failed if they haven’t made a profession of faith by the time they are 12. If you have raised thinking young adults, they will need something much meatier to chew on at this point, and THAT is YOUR job.
This is when we introduce Worldview curriculum. This is when we start requiring they read books like Dug Down Deep, Assumptions, and How Should We Then Live. (Soon, I hope to post a list of the books we require for graduation – these being among those.)
We send them to TeenPact, Worldview Academy, and we stay available for the hard questions. This is the time to put the Bible Gateway app on their phone, tablet, or iPod. Help them set up a Bible reading plan. Teach them how to take sermon notes. Keep that running dialogue, and DO NOT FREAK OUT when they ask hard questions. It is NOT a sign of defiance – it’s a sign of a thoughtful mind.
This is also when YOUR prayer life is going to kick into overdrive! My teens have rooted out all kinds of inconsistencies in my life. They have called us on things we believe, but haven’t thoroughly thought through. They have asked questions that we needed to look up and study for ourselves. I am challenged and encouraged by them every single day!
I know this is a lengthy, meaty post. I know there is so much more I could say, but let me end this by saying that the eclectic homeschool is such a rich environment for studying the Word of God! You are not chained down to one thing. You don’t have to follow a prescribed method. But even if you aren’t an eclectic homeschooler, please don’t compartmentalize your faith and Bible time in your homeschool! Do whatever it takes to make it your life and the central focus of your children’s education!