When children move beyond kindergarten into the elementary years, their school studies begin to make sense to them logically. Stories they've had read and ideas they've been exposed to since they began speaking start to come together. Religious education of children in this age group is extremely important. From a very early age, children are taught basic principles such as "Jesus loves you" and "The Bible is God's book." But despite hearing the same stories and memorizing Bible verses, when a child reaches the age of 5 or 6 years, he/she begins hearing the same stories in a different way and starts thinking about them according to new concepts they have learned.
It is during this time that many children will come to understand, with their childlike faith, what it means to be a Christian. While it's crucial not to push a child into making a profession of faith before they actually understand what faith is, it is important to talk with your child about questions that arise, ideas they may have, or things they may have heard other people talk about. Children have such incredible questions and thoughts, especially about matters of faith because many of the tenets of faith cannot be seen or touched. Just as each child develops at a different rate, each child's spiritual life matures and develops at its own pace. Children must not be hurried along in their exploration of faith.
Among all the things parents do for their children, helping them to develop a foundation of faith is of utmost importance. This foundation is the brick and mortar of what they will later stand upon in times of trials, tribulations and triumphs.
How can a parent build that foundation of faith with their child? One of the basic ways is to find a church that provides a Christian education program for children of all ages. From the moment a child goes into the nursery, the foundation is being built. Do the teachers in these early childhood classes exude a feeling of warmth, comfort, and safety? All of these attributes let a child know that this is a place where they are unconditionally loved and a place where they can learn and grow. A church that cares about children will provide loving people safe places and opportunities for fellowship, in which a child can learn and experience faith.
Fellowships and organized group activities are also vital components for building a foundation of faith. Many churches offer a variety of events, fellowships, sporting opportunities, and retreat outings for children. Take advantage of these. Having fun with other children in various venues helps a child to see that living a Christian life is not boring or sedate. It has been said that the family that prays together stays together, and it may also be true that the family that plays together stays together!
Fellowships can be good opportunities for you to meet other parents who have children the same age as yours. Many informal parental support groups have been formed out of church fellowship opportunities.
Helping your child develop a foundation of faith is the most important gift you will ever give them. Children learn by example, and just as the life instructions you pass on to them are important, your Christian example will help them learn how to build a strong foundation of faith that will last a lifetime. As the Bible says, "a little child shall lead them." In many ways, helping your child build up their faith can help you strengthen yours as well.