At their tender age, will kids understand if we teach them about God? What is the best age to start teaching them about the faith?
One normal night as I was doing some cleaning in the kitchen, my 4-year-old daughter came to me with a worried face.
“Mama, papa said there’s a shark in the swimming pool,” she said in our dialect.
Her cute sweet innocent eyes doesn’t hide the true fear and worry in her eyes. She was utterly serious and very sure that there is a shark in the swimming pool.
These past few days, we’ve been talking of going to the local pool. She’s very excited. And now she ‘knows’ there’s a shark in the pool, her excitement is gone.
I calmly reassured her that her father is just joking. I added that sharks don’t live in pools but in the great deep ocean where they’re out of sight and reach. It was one of those tough talks.
Thankfully, she accepted my explanation. But her face was still serious. The excitement, probably now cut into half.
Teaching kids about God like ABC’s
From that conversation we had, I’m always in awe on how little children easily and truly believe what they’re told to.
If you tell them that the color purple is named blue, and the sky is purple, they’d believe you.
It is safe to say that at their young age, you have a great advantage in impressing anything you want on their tender minds. It is still easy to do so at this stage of their lives.
And if there’s something we should teach them is not just scientific names of dinosaurs or cute little barbies.
According to homeschoolers, you should focus on the three R’s: Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. If you’re a Catholic homeschooler, it naturally falls into place that you focus on Religion as well. That makes it four R’s.
Indeed, we should teach them the tough truths of our faith. By knowing these, they will believe these and carry it on for the rest of their lives. When they reach adulthood, they’d never think that mommy and daddy were phonies teaching me about superstitious figures and characters. They are are real. Their Catholic faith is real. It is based on truth.
By the grace of God, they can relate their life’s experiences with the logic and philosophies of our religion.
And hopefully, they won’t just become ‘geniuses’ or some future CEOs, which are not bad in itself, but wouldn’t make a child or a person whole if the knowledge of faith is lacking.
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”John 14:6
A child’s mind is like a seed
What did you believe in when you were young that was unreal?
Santa Claus. Tooth fairies. Unicorns. And the list goes on.
Stories about fantasies are good for children. We have lots of them. We are abundant in stories. But wouldn’t it be great that along with the stories are messages about faith, truth, human nature, and real-life adventures? Gladys Hunt’s book Honey for a Child’s Heart is a great book to know which books are age-approriate for children.
On the other hand, you can also choose to impress on their tender minds twisted truths and propagandas.
The choice is there. Always there. And it is yours.
Teaching a child today is like planting a seed. It grows to be a big tree in the future.
What kind of tree would you have?
So what is the best age to teach children about the faith?
According to science, the first five years is the most critical stage in a child’s life. What the child has accrued determines what kind of person he becomes in the long run. That accruement of knowledge and experiences even goes beyond birth and into the womb.
The Church herself has been making this stand over the course of history: that childhood is the critical stage to teach them about love, discipline, and the faith. In the book The Christian Mother, Fr Cramer goes even further into the womb to explain the dowry of mind and heart that we, mothers, give to our child before birth. That dowry, either good or bad, will be instilled in the child’s psyche and reaches unto adulthood. That is why it is very important that mothers avoid unnecessary stress during pregnancy and actively practice the faith!
So the best age to teach children about the faith is from the womb!