As we go through our years of training to become educators we learn there are various "Learning Styles". Among the styles of learning are those people who learn visually, those who learn, though listening, who learn through music, who learn when everything around them is silent. Some people learn best when snacking or having something to drink near-by. Many people are a combination of the different learning styles.
These learning styles apply to what we teach in the classrooms. What about what the children need in their day-to-day lives? What they do need in their spiritual lives? What really matters is how will they live their lives?
Children really learn best by examples. Children do not learn correctly by the "Do as I say, not as I do method". Child learn best by correct examples.
One of the earliest rules for teaching comes from Proverbs 22:6 (KJV) "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it."
As we teach, direct, and train, our children, they learn by our examples. When they are very little they learn speech from us. We spend countless hours repeating the words we want them to first say, "Da-da" Ma-ma". We crawl for them as we teach them crawling. They watch us walk as they begin to walk. So much of their early learning is imitation. When we laugh at something they do, they do it again. If it's funny to us, it must be funny, even if it's wrong. I can remember at age 14 laughing at something a young cousin did that was funny but unacceptable. I was quickly reprimanded and told if I laugh at him, he would never learn. I had to set the example for him.
As children get older, we teach them the ways of the LORD, the Ten Commandments. We teach them these are the right ways to live their lives. We show them that Jesus lived his life by these same Commandments. He was the only perfect one! He made the right choices. As we instruct our children in the way of the LORD, are we teaching them the right way?
But we cannot just tell them what the Bible says, we must show them by our examples. Jesus taught by example. When he said, "Let the children come to me" (Matthew 19:14) it was after the parents had been bringing the children to him for Him to bless them. Jesus lead by example when he spent time in prayer away from His disciples (Luke 6:12)
Just as Christ led by example, we too must lead by example. We must teach by example. We must teach that our children need to make the RIGHT choice, which is not always the best choice. The best choice for a 5th grade student might not always be the right one.
I'm glad Christ made the RIGHT choice for me when he stayed on the cross through all the pain and suffering. It might not have been the best choice for those watching Him suffer, but for all of us who will one day spend eternity with Him - I thank Him that He chose me!
Vicki Helmling is a teacher at Grace English Lutheran School