We often begin speaking to children while they are still in the womb and immediately after a child is born we begin engaging with children verbally. Infants and toddlers are sponges for information and particularly attentive to language. Before 9 months old, babies are easily able to distinguish between five different languages, and by the time they are 3 years old children have heard up to 45 million words. But how many of these words have been about faith?
It is important to teach children everyday words such as yes and no, please and thank you, and happy and sad. But when do they begin hearing words of faith such as God, love, Jesus, church, and creator? Why not begin sharing words of faith from the beginning of a child’s life? Faith must be an imperative part of our sharing with children so that they too can be on a lifelong faith journey.
I recently heard a lecture by Dawn Rundman about ministry with babies and toddlers. She shared that we baptize our babies but then wait until the age of three to send them to Sunday school. When we use this model, we miss important and formative years to share our faith with our children. Rundman also recognizes that it is hard work to be a parent and to have to add something else to our ‘parenting list’ can be daunting. But you do not have to be a religious expert to share faith with your children. Sharing faith language with children can be done simply through reading Bible stories, looking at pictures and images, saying a prayer together, and reminding children they are loved by God. Dawn also shared that infants and toddlers learn more from a face to face interaction then from a screen. Doing simple activities such as holding a child in your lap and reading them a story about God’s love creates formative faith implications.
Here are some suggestions of Bibles and books you might wish to read with your children:
Deep Blue Toddler Bible Storybook, Daphna Flegal and Brittany Sky
God Gave Us You, Lisa Tawn Bergren
Goodnight, Ark, Laura Sassi
Goodnight, Manger, Laura Sassi
The Family Story Bible, Ralph Milton
Erin R. Floyd holds a B.A. in Religious Education from Oklahoma City University, and is pursuing an M.A. of Christian Education from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Erin is the writer and editor of the Deep Blue Middle Elementary resources. Erin is passionate about child and faith development, and enjoys being a part of an amazing team at The United Methodist Publishing House. In her free time, she enjoys journaling, taking walks, volunteering, and trying new coffee shops.