Laying a Firm Foundation

Ages 2 to 5

We all know the importance of the early years in a child's growth and development. There are many skills, habits, and words that we teach and train our children within their first five years of life—more than we would want to count. Crucial to that teaching and training is our Christian faith and heritage.

We are to teach our children the great and powerful works of our God. We are to teach them God’s Word, His law, and His gospel as part of His covenant people. We are to teach them the

“things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done … that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments (Psalm 78:3–4,6–7, ESV).

Through our Show Me Jesus and Kids’ Quest curriculum, Great Commission Publications provides resources for the church and the family to assist in this important task for children from age 2 through the elementary years. Let’s focus on how we do this for toddlers (ages 2–3) and preschool children (ages 4–5).

Two- and Three-Year-Olds: Toddlers

Toddlers are beginning to learn basic vocabulary as well as the words of faith. Did you know that a 2-year-old knows some 200 words, which grows to an astounding 1,800 words by age 3? How important, then, that both the home and the covenant community teach and model the words of faith! How do we do this? By teaching both the Scriptures and our confessional standards. We tell our toddlers the stories of the Bible, introducing God’s historical-redemptive plan from Creation and the Fall. We tell them of the promised Messiah and the coming of the Promised One, Jesus Christ. We show them how we as God’s people are to live before our Holy God.

These little ones can even learn a basic summary of Christian truth (theology) bymemorizing the first 15 questions and answers of First Catechism. Through this method, our covenant children learn these fundamental and profound truths, a firm foundation being laid for the coming years:

  • The Bible is God’s Word and it’s true.
  • Prayer is talking to God.
  • God created everything.
  • God loves and takes care of his children.
  • God always keeps his promises.
  • Sin is saying no to God.
  • God sent his Son, Jesus.
  • Jesus saves his children from sin.
  • We put our trust in Jesus as our Savior.
  • We obey God because he loves us.
  • We obey God because we trust and love him.
  • The church is made up of God’s people.

Four- and Five-Year-Olds: Preschool

As a child moves into the preschool years, the foundation is reinforced and strengthened. Four- and five-year-olds formulate ideas through concrete experiences.Therefore, lessons and teaching time are designed to take preschoolers from what is familiar and real to deeper truths about God and how they apply to their everyday lives.

Anyone who’s around preschoolers knows that they are generally curious, talkative, and growing in independence. They also know their attention span is short—five to ten minutes.Their worlds are small: parents, siblings, grandparents, playmates, classmates, and the church. Because of this, the basic concrete experience for a preschooler is the family in which he or she grows and learns.

But preschoolers are also taught and experiencing what it means to be part of God’s family and how to live as God’s children. That’s why we teach the Old Testament storiesof Creation, the Fall, the promised Savior, and God’s faithfulness to His people. In the New Testament, they see that Jesus was sent because of God’s great love. They follow the stories of Jesus from the manger to encountering Him through His powerful signs and wonders, the cross, and His resurrection. All this is designed to point children to Jesus—that they might believe that He is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him they may have eternal life as part of the family of God.

So, how would we summarize our spiritual goals for preschoolers?

  • To know that Jesus died to save us
  • To know that God loves us and forgives us
  • To know that we are part of God’s covenant family
  • To respond to his love with hearts that trust and obey him
  • To begin to understand and respond in worship to God

Preschoolers can also expand their faith vocabulary by learning First Catechism. In Beginning Kids’ Quest curriculum, they learn the first 45 questions and answers, covering such Bible truths as Creation, the Trinity, God, the Scriptures, Adam and Eve, covenant, sin, the Fall, and grace.

No matter what age God has entrusted in your care, our prayer is that the Holy Spirit will change the hearts of your children and develop in them a response of trust in and grateful obedience to the Savior. In all of this, show them Jesus.