Six Resources Helpful in Catechizing a 3-Year Old
My wife and I are attempting to instruct our children in spiritual matters, although they are both very young (our oldest is three). We are convinced that family worship is a large part of this responsibility. Yes, it's tricky with young children. Some times are easier than others. We have to contend with "the wiggles." But we must be patient and persevere. I have been encouraged in this undertaking by several resources and wanted to point you to some of them.
First, the foundational and essential resource is the Bible, because this is where we learn about God, man, Christ, and salvation by faith in Him. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Ephesians 6:4 taught me, even before I was married and became a father, that I was responsible to see that my children be trained up in the instruction of the Lord.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath:
but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Second, I must recognize Dr. Don Whitney's booklet, Family Worship: in the Bible, in History and in Your Home. This booklet showed me the importance of family worship. The CD has also been helpful (as well as taking a class from Dr. Whitney in which he covered this subject). This book motivated me by reminding me of the importance of family worship, biblically and historically. Dr. Whitney's simple approach is very practical: Read the Bible, pray and sing. Add Scripture memory, catechizing and reading other books if you have the time. And it need not be a lengthy time, but it must be regular and consistent. For a brief synopsis, see this bulletin insert at his website, www.BiblicalSpirituality.org. Dr. Whitney's point is this: God deserves to be worshiped daily in our homes by our families.
Third, Bev & Jerry Priest's ABC Memory Verse Program (KJV) goes through the alphabet twice, highlighting key words in each verse (for example, for "E," the book gives John 17:3: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent"). The first set of verses is "salvation verses" and the second set is "growth verses." The book is available at the link above or by emailing Dr. Jerry Priest at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our oldest child recognizes each letter and knows the key words; we hope to get the verses in the head too in the near future (we have been able to teach a couple).
Fourth, The Child's Story Bible by Catherine F. Vos is a helpful summary of the Scriptures for a child. Much of the Bible is paraphrased; direct quotations are from the KJV. From creation to the cross to the church to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in glory, this resource examines the range of salvation history. It is broken down into 110 chapters for the Old Testament (with shorter sections in some chapters that make good bite-size chunks for reading) and 92 chapters for the New Testament. There are also some color illustrations.
Fifth, the Truth and Grace (TAG) Memory Books edited by Dr. Tom Ascol are another valuable resource. The strength of these books is that they give parents a plan of instruction in catechism questions, hymns and Scripture memory verses for ages two through high school. The catechism questions are based on "A Catechism for Boys and Girls." Our oldest child knows the first four catechism questions and answers and is on the second Scripture memory verse, but sometimes has an interesting take on things. One time she recited: "In the beginning God created . . . bananas!"
Sixth, Judy Rogers' CD, Teach Me While My Heart Is Tender, as far as we can tell, has caused more theological truth to stick to the minds of our children than anything else. Our oldest child goes around the house singing the songs, many of which are based on a catechism similar to the one used in the Truth and Grace Memory Books mentioned above. Several of the songs are also based directly on Scripture. These songs are fun and catchy and present good theology. This CD is a 30-song collection of selections from Judy's albums, "Why Can't I See God?," "Go to the Ant," "Walkin' Wise" and "Stand Up!"
I hope this list is helpful to you, but more than getting any particular book or help is the fact of actually teaching your family about the Lord. Whatever resources you may use, if you have a family, God has called you to say with Joshua, no matter what others around you may do or fail to do (including other Christians), "As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" (Joshua 24:15).