Our favorite teacher was back with us! Elizabeth Urbanowicz shared strategies for parents and teachers to get kids reading and studying the Bible on their own.
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Interview with Elizabeth
Elizabeth is a follower of Jesus who loves children! She started her career as an educator in a private Christian school. Although her students came from loving Christian homes, Elizabeth began to notice that they didn't have the skills to read, interpret, and apply Scripture. Upon searching for curriculum to train her students, Elizabeth was coming up empty, so she began developing her own resources! Eventually, the Lord led her to Biola University, where she obtained a Master's in Apologetics, she left teaching, and created Foundation Worldview. Foundation Worldview is a ministry that helps equip parents to train their kids to critically evaluate every idea, to dive into Scripture, and to develop a Biblical worldview.
Q: What prompted you to write a curriculum for kids to be able to read and interpret the Bible for themselves?
A: As with writing each curriculum, it was born out of the problems I've encountered with my own classroom or my interactions with children. The ancient proverb that says, "Give a man a fish and you'll feed him for a day, but teach a man how to fish and you'll feed him for a lifetime"...this idea played a pivotal role.
Q: What is your strategy for helping kids read, understand, and apply the Bible?
A: 1. We equip them to understand the whole story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation (rather than snippets of stories here and there), including illustrations of each major time period. We help them identify the main themes, such as God's faithfulness, human rebellion, and God's rescue plan.
2. We teach basic skills in Bible interpretation, such as reading Bible verses within the larger context, understanding descriptive vs prescriptive passages, and understanding that there is an objective meaning to the text that the author meant (Bible maps are very helpful during this step as well!).
3. We help kids understand how to read different Bible genres (eg differences between Biblical poetry vs Gospel narrative).
Q: Do you think kids are capable of understanding the story of the Bible?
A: YES! It requires multiple exposures to the material (research suggests 7 exposures for a new concept to stick!), breaking concepts into smaller units, and then repeated review and practice, which we provide in our curriculum. The audio Bible is also a great strategy! Children can ingest and understand words audibly far beyond their reading ability.
Q: What are some of the questions kids should be asking as they're reading through the Scriptures?
A: 1. We help kids understand that truth is objective. The reader is NOT the one bringing meaning to the Scripture, but the author is. So, our job is to look for what truths are revealed.
2. We help kids investigate these questions: What truths are revealed about God (such as God's faithfulness, God's justice, God's sovereignty, etc)? What truths are revealed about humans (NOT what does this say about me and my destiny)? What does this reveal about God's big plan?
**Side Note: As Christian parents, it is imperative that we train our children to become strong readers and to value reading. Jesus revealed himself as the Word and we are people of the Word, not people of screens and TV! Instead of constantly using devices as "babysitters", parents CAN train their children to utilize audiobooks or "play-aways" from the local library, which pairs a book with the audio reading on MP3. It will take time for the brain to transition, but it IS possible!
Q: How can parents bridge the cultural distance between the Biblical era to the modern era?
A: In our curriculum, we teach kids to research the background of a Bible book before reading the book. Parents should make sure their child's Bible has background information at the beginning of each book. In addition, parents can equip themselves with tools such as the "Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible" (see resources below). It's important to teach kids how to access the TOOLS available to help them understand the Bible more, such as cultural info, maps, etc.
Q: How can we help our kids set goals for their Bible reading, such as where to start, how much to read each day, etc?
A: Parents know their children best! They can help set up some basic structure, such as what time is best to read and the amount of reading to do. Be intentional about carving out time to read the Bible!
Q: In what environments are people using your curriculum successfully? In other words, we need to understand that this is NOT just a curriculum for homeschoolers, but for ANY parents and ANY children, no matter their schooling environment!
A: Yes, the curriculum is utilized in a variety of settings...homeschool families, public school families, private schools, and churches.
Elizabeth will be one of the featured speakers at the Discipleship Begins at Home Conference, sponsored by Women in Apologetics. Click the link to find out more and to register. Both in-person and virtual options with recordings are available!
Be sure to check out our previous episodes with Elizabeth for more important information about discipling the next generation:
Faith Training the Next Generation: https://youtu.be/T0x0lFfA3NY
Faith Training in the Age of Memes: https://youtu.be/pjm6SAgM_PQ
Be sure to visit Elizabeth's website, Foundation Worldview. You can find her brand new curriculum there, as well as many other discipleship resources for kids and teens. https://foundationworldview.com/
Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: https://www.amazon.com/Cultural-Backgrounds-Personal-Hardcover-Letter/dp/0310447844/
Another potential option for a Sunday School curriculum for children & students:
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