“Train Up a Child…”- Proverbs

What better book to help train up a child than Proverbs? Granted there are some subjects in Proverbs that are too much adult information for a child. Nevertheless, I believe that there is much in every chapter that would profit our children and help them grow up to be wise adults.

It is an important balance for the parent or teacher to allow a child to be a child while teaching them the important principles that will train them up to be wise adults. Too many adults in this generation lack wisdom. Even those with lots of street savvy or book learning, many times, do not have the wisdom to apply what they know in a good and godly way.

I would like to encourage parents and teachers alike to consider teaching proverbs to their little ones. Making the lessons simple enough so that they can start with those who are two and three years old and then work up the lessons adding onto them more detail as they age. For example, Proverbs 1:5 says (Let the wise also hear and gain instruction, and let the discerning acquire guidance!) How might we teach this to a two or three year old?

I would suggest having two dolls. One doll is the child, and one is the parent. Have them interact with each other. The parent doll tells the child doll something to do. When the child does it the parent doll says. You are wise to listen and follow instructions. Next the adult (teacher or parent) asks the child to do something like put away a toy. When the child does it the adult says, You are wise to listen and obey. This can be done in a group setting too such as a Sunday School Classroom where they might also be given a paper to color with the verse on it and a picture of a parent and child. There are many Proverbs that are simple and basic enough to start teaching them to our children that are old enough to obey simple instructions. The sooner we start teaching them words of wisdom the better their odds are that they will become wise adults. 

Older children can have a more complex lesson. Give them the verse and talk about what the words mean. Then give them a scenario to act out letting one child be the mother and another be the son or daughter. Then the teacher could give them instructions of how to do an assignment. When the assignment is done praise them for listening and following instructions. Explain to them that this is part of gaining wisdom.

Proverbs says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Helping our children realize that God is always watching all they do so that He might help them do what is right and good and best is what this verse is talking about. If they will listen to Him and obey Him they will surely become wise. He knows when they obey and when they don’t. Obeying is the wise thing to do while disobeying is foolish and never turns out for the best for them or for anyone they love.

To fear God doesn’t mean to be afraid of God like He is a bully. Fearing God is being amazed at His wisdom. Wisdom begins by realizing that God knows everything we need to know and wants to teach it to us.  It is realizing He knows exactly what is best for us and so we listen to His wisdom and accept His instructions as the best thing for us to do.

The younger we can learn this truth the deeper and more imbedded it will be in our understanding of how to navigate life. Let’s not neglect the book of Proverbs as we seek to teach our children how to live safe and healthy lives.

Suzi Ciliberti works for Christar, a Missions Agency that plants churches among least-reached Asians worldwide. She served in Japan for two years as a single missionary and another nine with her husband and two children, then the family returned to the states. She and her husband have been serving in the US Mobilization Center since 2000. As a part of the Member Care Department, Suzi is consultant to families with children. She has been working as a children’s teacher since she was 17 and began her training under Child Evangelism Fellowship. She has taught in the church, as a school teacher for two years in a Christian elementary school, and as a speaker for adults training to work with children. She has also trained children, who are a part of families that work overseas, in their identity in Christ. She brings 44 years of teaching experience to her work. She loves creative writing as well as teaching and has found great fulfillment in combining the two as she blogs for Heartprints. She finds it a great privilege and joy to serve the Lord and His people. One of her favorite verses is Deuteronomy 4:10b, "Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children."

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