Can babies really learn from the Bible? Are they able to recognize the importance of the Bible? Rachel Coe shares her experience and insights on the topic to help kids ministers. — Jana Magruder, Director of Kids Ministry Publishing
I’ve been around the block a few times, so I’m not surprised when some doubting Thomas looks straight at me with a smirk and smartly chimes, “Yeah, right. That’s crazy. Babies can’t read, and they certainly can’t talk. And I’m sure they don’t understand a word you say.”
Babies, the Bible, teaching, learning — most people don’t put those words in the same sentence. But I believe it and I’ve seen it. Babies can and do learn about the Bible.
Not too long ago I had the opportunity to meet with preschool teachers in a nearby association of churches. One of the things we talked about were the “windows of opportunity” for babies to learn about God and Jesus. Four-month-old Lillianna was a part of the conference. She did not want to be away from her mommy, so she joined the grown-ups in the preschool training.
Lillianna was our real-life example of God’s awesome plan. The teachers and I talked about how from the very start — conception and beginning cell growth in the womb — God had equipped Lillianna to have all the “necessary parts” to become a vital, living person with a soul and personality. God gave her a mind and body perfectly designed to grow and develop.
It is our responsibility to help babies like Lillianna grow in their knowledge of God and become all He intended them to be. Brain research confirms God’s perfect plan for spiritual growth and transformation.
- The first year of life is critical in the spiritual development of each child. This is the window of opportunity for all foundational learning, whether it is physical, emotional, social, mental, or spiritual.
- Babies can learn and become aware of God and spiritual truths.
- A child needs a safe, loving environment that stimulates him to explore, manipulate, wonder, and discover God’s world.
- A child needs conversation that links language to sensory input. Parents and teachers need to talk about what is happening in the young child’s world and relate it to God’s love and provision. They can and should talk about the Bible.
- Churches can provide age-suitable educational programs that teach biblical truths to babies—not provide just a baby-sitting service for parents.
- Basic Bible concepts and skills nurtured early in life provide the hooks of meaning that lead to lifetime spiritual understanding.
Just as newborns learn to recognize people, voices, faces, sounds, and places, they can learn to recognize the Bible and its importance.
Babies can . . .
- know the Bible is a book.
- hear the names of books of the Bible.
- touch, hold, and turn the pages of the Bible.
- associate God and Jesus with the Bible.
- hear the names of God and Jesus.
- hear Bible words and phrases that relate to their everyday lives.
We’re not surprised when a baby’s first word often turns out to be “dada.” (Or at least that’s what we hear her say!) We should not be surprised then, that just a few months later, that same baby can and often does say “Bible,” and Jesus’ name, and point to a picture of Jesus. And it’s because that baby has regularly been exposed to the Bible.
So, are you in the skeptics camp? Or are you among the believers? It’s never too early to use the Bible with babies.
Rachel Coe develops Bible-teaching curriculum for babies and uses it in her younger 1s classroom to cultivate spiritual seed and nurture transformational growth.