I’ve learned a lot about reading God’s Word this school year. Sure, we’ve always included Bible into our homeschool day in some capacity…whether through Bible storybooks or devotions which include a scripture reading or reading a Proverb or Psalm to start our day. But this year has been different; this year I really desired to center our entire curriculum around the Word and make it our predominant “History” subject without adding in any other resources. I’ll tell you, as a lover of History and a lover of living books and a CM educator-this has not been an easy challenge to stick with! But I’ve been determined to stick with that initial conviction and read God’s Word, in its entirety, as our History program for this year.
I was first inspired by this blogger: (http://raisingolives.com/2009/02/daily-bible-reading/) but didn’t quite see us reading the entire Bible 4 times a year. We set a more realistic school year goal of 175 days. I enlisted my husband’s help because I couldn’t quite find a plan that was just what I wanted. I liked the idea of reading multiple books in one day rather than just straight through the Old and then New Testament. I also didn’t want dates because I knew I would get “behind” and discouraged. He was able to customize a reading plan using a program from the Balancing the Sword curriculum and started us out reading daily from Genesis, Matthew, and Job and using a numbering system Day 1-Day 175, instead of Sunday-Saturday, or those very dreadful specific dates.
We try to read 3 times a day: morning, lunchtime, and bedtime. It doesn’t always work perfectly, but that’s the goal. And let me tell you, I have loved reading the Bible during the kids’ lunchtime! It has practically eliminated all of the nonsensical chit-chat and bickering that has typically accompanied our noon-day meal. And yes, I have to wait to eat, but it is well worth that little delay (except when they eat all the food!) to have a pleasant mealtime.
And of course, as He told us, His Word has not returned void! The kid’s narration skills have improved by leaps and bounds. We don’t narrate every reading of the day, but only the New Testament reading. In the beginning of the year I would stop after sections and have them narrate. Now I read an entire chapter and ask them to tell back as chronologically as they can (they take turns and help each other out with details). I have been so blessed by this Biblical narration and have a new appreciation as to why Charlotte Mason recommended it as a primary form of reading comprehension. Truly to hear your children recap the Bible in their own words is so much more rewarding than a recap of Aesop’s Fables or Just So Stories (which is what I have typically started them narrating with). Even Troy-age 4 asks to narrate every day now, Troy: “My turn?” Me: “Yes, Troy.” Him, in a whisper: “Tell me what to say.” Lol! The others do it without prompting ;-).
When we read Old Testament, typically at lunchtime, I don’t ask for full narration (because they’re eating, ew!), but rather for them to title each section with an appropriate title of their own. They’ve gotten pretty creative…many chapters of Leviticus often being labeled “Laws”, “More Laws”, and “Even More Laws”. We are currently approaching the end of Deuteronomy, which means we will have finished the Pentateuch. I have never read those first 5 books in order on my own before in a timely manner, and my personal take-away has been enlightening; recognizing little nuances in the way Moses writes or says things that I never noticed before. (And no, for those of you mathematicians, we are not quite on track to finish in June…we will be reading through summer).
So, aside from narration, how has this Bible immersion affected our family? In Spiritual terms, I will look back on this school year as the time that “God Came Near.” Not that He isn’t always present and always reachable, He is– but you know those times when He is Here, answering prayers in real-time, making Himself known in the everyday, being that ever-present help in time of trouble? That has been my experience this year and oh how I have needed Him!
The other noticeable effect has been the ease of reading scripture. In the past, reading to the children from the “actual” Bible has been tough. They’d get squirmy and restless and I’d read quickly to get it done. With so much reading this year, that restlessness is gone and our times of Bible reading are looked forward to each day. Sometimes I feel too tired to read at night and they don’t let me off the hook, “Aren’t we going to read the Bible?” And you know how on occasion our Christian school books will reference scripture to illuminate a science fact or history topic or other? I used to be guilty of skipping those out of fear that I would lose the children’s interest and not finish the lesson. Awful, I know! But I can read those comfortably now that they are so accustomed to hearing the Bible read aloud.
So no regrets over leaving out those history books; they’ll be there next year. For now, we are learning His Story from the Master Storyteller, Himself.
“So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11