For some time now, I've viewed Bible more as something we do devotionally as a family more than a school subject. And honestly, I was a little bit afraid of including Bible as a school subject for fear that the kids would start viewing it as just that - school rather than something that should permeate their whole lives. So, up until now, we'd done Bible primarly as "family devotions". However...as time went on, it was becoming more and more difficult to make this family devotional time work. I realized that our children are all at different places in their spiritual understanding and needs. Trying to do Bible reading and 'family devotions' at a level to engage our 7 year old meant that the 2 and 4 year olds were missing out on the foundation that Michelle got in the basic Bible stories as a preschooler. Our family Bible times were quickly disintigrating since it was impossible to engage the little ones in the devotional we had selected for use with Michelle. I was also becoming more and more concerned that the devotional we were using was doing too much "connect the dots" and forcing connections rather than letting Michelle make her own connections with the Bible text or making space for the Holy Spirit to speak to her where she is. Allowing a child to make her own connections with the text, rather than always telling the child what to think, is another hallmark of a Charlotte Mason education. Something needed to change.
My reading of Charlotte Mason's ideas, along with some helpful discussion over on the Ambleside Online forum, led me to the conclusion that there is a difference between Bible as a school subject - which is more Bible Study - and Bible as 'family devotions' which is less formal and more woven into the fabric of our family life. Both are necessary, and I would say both complement each other as well. Here and here is a two part blog series that summarizes well what Charlotte had to say about Bible as a school subject. This section (scroll down to XIV. Bible Lessons) from Home Education describes her ideas about how to approach Bible as a school subject for younger children (between ages 6 and 9). And here (scroll down to point III) are her own words about the Divine Life of the Child, which concerns the natural teaching of the Bible in the family context. This isn't an exhaustive list of everything that CM had to say about Bible teaching, but they are the bits that I found most helpful and instructive as I thought through the best way to approach this in our family.
It made sense to me (and Dan too, when I discussed it with him) to separate Bible into two different things - one done as a family and designed to engage all and a study appropriate to the age of the child as part of their "school". In Part 2, I will share with you what we are doing in our studies as a family. In Part 3, I will share how I am incorporating Bible Study as a school subject for Michelle.