Christian Parenting Question

From a reader and sometimes commenter… This family is looking for Bible curriculum for homeschooling children but who are themselves in public schools… but not the ordinary thing:

Who has some recommendations? Books to read? Or a curriculum?

Both my kids read Scripture for themselves (devotionally), and we talk with them when they have questions. And they hear from me the robustness (I keep coming back to that word) of Scripture and the grandness of the Story.  What we are looking for is something in the context of that largeness and robustness that enables them to learn the history, content and context (preferably in community with others, but we can create that community ourselves if we need to) in a way that will enrich their own reading but also feed and spur their curiosity and knowledge about this Story and God in which we live and breathe.

Or, another way of asking…

But I am writing this e-mail as a parent. To the point, my husband and I are looking for online Bible classes or curriculum for our children (10, 14)—and one that operates in the context of a robust understanding of Scripture and the gospel like we explored at Missio Alliance—to supplement their (excellent) public school education.

Both of our children attend advanced academic programs in our local public schools which promote critical thinking and Socratic learning; we are very happy with the education they are getting.  But our oldest has expressed a longing to have access to classes about Bible history, content and context in the same way she learns about science, literature, and history. As private Christian schools are not an option for us, we started to look for other local options but came up empty. And while there are a lot of online options, most have more narrow views of Scripture and the gospel.

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  • I hope someone has some great resources as response to this question. I’ve been in family ministry for years and can’t say that I know any great answers. I’ve referred parents with similar question to books like John Walton’s Bible Story Handbook. When my children were younger, we would refer them to the Victor (David C. Cook) Journey Through the Bible by Gilbert Beers. It also seems that Phil Vischer is doing some interesting stuff for younger children with is What’s in the Bible DVDs.

    Sadly most of the resources for children and youth are still pretty focused on morality. I might suggest getting a good commentary series that is written at a less than seminary level. The NIV Life Application might work. These would require some adult help, but there are more benefits for your children if you are walking this road with them.

    I’ll post this question in some groups with other folks in family ministry. Perhaps, I can find more help that way. Track my blog or I’ll post answers I find back here.

  • kim dolan

    This year our church has been using the curriculum from Missiolife. Some of us love it and some of us…. not so much. My group consists of the 6-8 graders. Our discussions and the questions among the group have been focused on Jesus, the community we live in, the world at large and our role in God’s plan. There is nothing more exciting than seeing the kids begin to question and talk about growing up in the church. Check it out

  • Last year our family participated in the Bible Bee. The materials included an in-depth study of one book of the Bible which they entitle “Sword Study.” It’s the only resource I’ve encountered for children that teaches HOW to really dig into the Bible and study it, and you can obtain the study even if you are not a Bible Bee participant. They examine the context of the book (author, intended audience, circumstances surrounding the writing, historical context, etc), examine some Greek words by looking them up in a concordance, cross-reference other scriptures for better understanding. It starts with an “overview” of the entire book, then the “street level,” and finally “digging deep” below the surface.

    They have Sword Studies for a variety of ages, and the ones from previous years are on clearance in their e-store: (Click on “Print Shop” in the lefthand menu). Samples from last year’s Sword Study can be viewed here:

  • jon

    The What’s In the Bible DVDs by Jelly Telly are really good, albeit probably a little juvenile for your kids. Every adult I have showed them to says they learn something, though.

    i would also recommend the re:form and Ancestors curriculum from Augsburg fortress. Though they aren’t specifically a Bible curriculums (Re:Form is basic catechism, Ancestors is character studies).

  • Sparkhouse has some really good resources. They have a new one coming out called Echo The Story:

    Peter Enns has a great curriculum that is fashioned along the Classical model of education. The grammar level books are out already. It’s called Telling God’s Story and it’s wonderful. Unfortunately, the books for kids at the Logic and Rhetoric levels (which is where the kids this parent is asking about are) aren’t ready yet.

    Hope to see some other good suggestions here!

  • Take a look at Sunday Plus – because it is not produced by a commercial entity we are able to be a little different in our approach. It begins very simple but as they progress through the Bible they go deeper. We want to get the kids to think critically – not sure we always do that but we attempt to do so.

    It is written for churches to use so what you are asking for may be something even deeper. I have not seen a curriculum that goes as deep but still takes into consideration the developmental needs of children. I’d be interested in what you think as you look through it. We long to create what you are asking for but …

    Here are a couple of lessons – and

  • Brandon Roysden

    There is a publisher who puts on the D6 Conference based on the passage in Deuteronomy that talks about discipling your children who produces magazines/devotionals for every age group. It is very centered on scripture and might be something you could use to help your children study.

    Here’s the link:

  • Thank you, Scot, for posting my request. And thank you to everyone who responded — there are some good suggestions here! A good portion of the topics on BioLogos are attractive to my oldest, as well. I’ll go over these with my kids.

    AprilK, thanks for the heads up on Sparkhouse. One of the attractive aspects of some of those materials is the sharing the kids do on the web. Some of my family on the West Coast (I am on the East) have expressed interest in having their kids do this as well, and so I am looking for materials that can be used online. When I started researching all of this, I was a bit frustrated by how few of the options utilize that option. It seems like much of the curricula are meant to be run individually (ie, homeschooling) or in local groups (ie, church youth groups); it would be wonderful if someone would develop a curriculum where that kind of learning experience could be shared within a wider geographical area.

  • Paul

    I would haves non-curriculum suggestions:

    1) As they get older (the 14 year old is there now it seems), have them read some of the books (or articles) that you as parents have been encouraged/challenged by (let them pick the subject, you can give them book options). Many of these books (or chapters/passages from them) they will be able to understand and interact with you about. This interaction can guide you as parents to engage them in further learning/growth. If they are interested in context, have them read a book like “How to Read the Bible For All It’s Worth”…or at least chapters from it. Then set up a time to discuss and work to create something worthwhile based on that reading. Challenge them to read something like Screwtape Letters for discipleship or The King Jesus Gospel for the story of the Bible (or something like that)…then discuss and create with them.

    2) Have them volunteer to help lead/teach younger kids in your church or in a similar type setting, or serve in a way that challenges their faith. Nothing helps a person learn like trying to teach others or think through the application of faith. This may help build a desire to learn things on their own and seek/study on their own (especially if the materials they are reading are hard).

  • Paul, we are already doing your first suggestion with our oldest. Your second suggestion is a good one, I’ll pass that one on to her.

    The more I process this, the more I think our oldest is expressing a longing for what seems like the kind of Bible courses and classroom experience I had in my high school and college years (both a Christian institutions). She desires to understand the Bible as a whole, to see where the parts fit in, and be able to understand what she is reading in the parts better because of the context of the whole. Sometimes I take for granted that I know the different types of literature in the Bible, the way Scripture developed, the cultural and historical contexts, etc.–much of which I learned in the context of a formal education. When I talk about those things to her, she expresses a wish that she had classes where she could learn about and discuss things like that. Peer interaction with these things is also a very important aspect for her. My goal is to try to compile some materials and online interactions that can begin to meet that desire.

  • I should add to the above that my goal is also to help meet her thirst with material that deals with those things in the context of understanding Scripture as Story and the gospel as much more than personal salvation alone.

  • beth

    I have to second the Pete Enns book– it’s fantastic

  • Holly

    I like the Pete Enns books too – but I think only levels 1 and 2 are published, and unfortunately they are not online.

    For flat-out readability/discussion (although you’d have to do that in real-to-life groups or via skype conversations or something similar,) I love NT Wright’s “For Everyone” commentary series. It would work well enough for a 14 year old; not sure for a 4th or 5th grader? Maybe, with adult involvment?

  • We have enjoyed Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware. A great introduction in bite-sized chunks to theology. Good for age 9+ Also a great book is The Drama of Scripture by Bartholomew and Goheen – haven’t read this with our kids yet though! (ours are 7 and 9). We homeschool here in Tanzania, so interested to see what other books come up here!