The knowledge of God is the principal knowledge

A Charlotte Mason Moment:

“The knowledge of God is the principal knowledge, and no teaching of the Bible which does not further that knowledge is of religious value. Therefore the children read, or if they are too young to read for themselves the teacher reads to them, a passage of varying length covering an incident or some definite teaching. If there are remarks to be made about local geography or local custom, the teacher makes them before the passage has been read, emphasizing briefly but reverently any spiritual or moral truth; the children narrate what has been read after the reading; they do this with curious accuracy and yet with some originality, conveying the spiritual teaching which the teacher has indicated. Now this is no parrot-exercise, but is the result of such an assimilation of the passage that is has become a part of the young scholar.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Vol. 6, p. 272-273)

Should I start Little Hands if my son doesn’t comprehend its Bible well?

Dear Carrie

Should I begin Little Hands to Heaven if my son doesn’t seem ready to comprehend the children’s Bible in it well?

I lurk on the Heart of Dakota Message Board! I’ve gotten a lot of great insight there! My daughter is using Little Hearts, and she also used Little Hands, which we loved. My question is about my son. He’s 4, and he knows all his letters, sounds, shapes, etc. However, he struggles with listening. I haven’t started Little Hands (LHTH) for this very reason. I tried out the Bible from LHTH for his evening devotions. He really struggled to answer any questions after the reading. I think it is partly a disciplinary issue as well. After all, he can sit and listen attentively to a Thomas the Train book! I’d like to get him started in LHTH, but I’m concerned about his (lack of) listening and comprehension. So, should I begin Little Hands to Heaven if my son doesn’t seem ready to comprehend the children’s Bible in it well?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help Me Choose When to Start Little Hands”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me Choose When to Start Little Hands,”

I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed Heart of Dakota with your daughter and will now begin it with your son! I just want to encourage you that it isn’t uncommon for young boys to struggle a bit with listening to Bible stories at first. This is because Bible stories have a harder vocabulary, have a much less predictable storyline, and do not have as many repetitive words or characters as stories like Thomas the Tank Engine do. So, listening to a Bible story is actually an exercise in higher level listening for a little child.

Comprehension can be influenced by the time of day.

How well a child comprehends a Bible story reading will also differ depending on what time of day the little one is asked to listen to the story. By bedtime, little ones are often weary, both physically and mentally. So, trying to process something new at that time is more work. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read aloud Bible stories at bedtime. It just means that we can expect less comprehension at that time of day as opposed to when the child is fresher, earlier in the day.

Children develop the skills to listen to Bible stories, which are more difficult read alouds, in LHTH.

Listening to more difficult read alouds, like Bible stories, is a skill that takes time to develop. The beauty of LHTH is that you will actually be able to see this skill develop as you travel through the guide. Since your son is 4, I’d lean toward starting LHTH, doing it 4 days a week. At age 4, he would likely be able to handle a day of LHTH in a day, since it takes 30 minutes or less.

Children may struggle for awhile, but soon they begin to answer the Bible questions better and better.

You can expect that he will struggle to answer the questions from the Bible stories for awhile (and this is not exclusive to little boys)! My sisters and I were talking awhile back about how surprising it was when our little ones finally began to answer some of the Bible questions in LHTH (and my older sister has little girls).

You can reread the line of the story with the answer to help your child answer the question if need be.

Until your little one is able to answer the questions, after asking the question if no answer is forthcoming, you could reread the line of the story with the answer in it to help prod your little one. Then, if the answer still isn’t coming, just tell the answer in a questioning type way. For example, if the question is, “Who did Abraham marry?”, and if your little one doesn’t know, reread the line of the story that says the answer. If your little one still can’t answer, then say, “Did Abraham marry Sarah?” In this way, the child can still answer, “Yes” at least (giving the guise of answering the question).

I hope you enjoy Little Hands to Heaven with your son as much as we did with each of our sons!

Blessings,

Carrie