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By Pastor John M. Opperman



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Child study may be defined as an examination of the laws governing the growth of personality.


Knowledge of a person
One cannot easily introduce God to an individual life unless he knows that life.
The successful medium must:
(A) Know God.
That is more than to know about God. We cannot introduce God unless we are on speaking terms with Him. It is NOT sufficient to have known God some time ago. We must know Him intimately and be in constant communion with Him in order to introduce Him.
(B) Know man.
One must study man and become acquainted with him in order to know him. The successful salesman is the one who knows human nature and understands the approach to men’s minds. No Christian worker can be useful in introducing God to mankind unless he knows God and knows man. We must know not only boys and girls but we must know the boy and the girl with whom we have to deal.

Knowledge of a law
(A) Child Study has a basis in facts.
(B) Child Study investigates the facts in human development.
(C) Child Study studies the natural order of growth.
(D) Child Study determines the modifying effect of various conditions and activities in different stages.
(E) God is above the law, and can and does change law. Such changes are called miracles.
(F) God never works a miracle to relieve men of their common sense!
(G) We can easily be guilty of the sin of presumption, in believing that God will change a law that we have ignored. [Try walking on water].
(H) We have no right to close our eyes to facts with the hope that God will later on bless our ignorance and our carelessness by overruling natural laws.
From this law we conclude that:
(A)  Life can be planned. During the days of the Reformation, when Protestantism threatened to sweep Romanism from the face of Europe, Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier conceived the plan of teaching after the children. “Give me the children until they are seven and anyone may have them afterwards.” Xavier.
(B) Many tragedies may be prevented. It was Vice-President Marshall, who said, ‘If we are to teach the child nothing about right living we have no reason to complain if he goes wrong. It is not his fault; it is our neglect.’
(C) There is hope in FORMATION and REGENERATION, but not in REFORMATION. The grace of God can give a repentant man a new heart, but it does not give him a new body and a new mind. It DOES NOT RESTORE LOST OPPORTUNITIES of childhood.

Determining a Christian
Winning to Christ and His work is too important and too extensive a task for any teacher to claim absolute responsibility.
All teachers are in one sense of the word EVANGELISTS:
(A) Even adult converts repeatedly testify to a godly mother’s contribution.
(B) The teachers in the Beginners and Primary departments are introducing the little child to the “good news,” and thus leading him or her towards Christ
(C) The Junior teacher is storing his or her mind with precious truths about the Savior that in the last years of childhood he or she may diligently inquire, “What must I do to be saved?”
(D) The Intermediate and Senior teachers reap the harvest of the personal work of the evangelists who have preceded them, and if they do not have the particular part of bringing the pupil to a definite decision for Christ, they will be responsible for preparing the saved to save others.
(E) Successful evangelism is built upon a deeper foundation than a “special meeting!”
(F) The lasting effect of a Decision Day will depend largely upon the Christian nature of subsequent teachers.

Developing a personality.
While the life and action of the child must be molded, the teacher must secure on the part of the child the operation of the will back of the action. A child should be helped so that it will act of its own initiative. IT MUST BE BROUGHT TO CO-OPERATE WITH THE TEACHER. It is this initiation of action on the part of the child that gives him or her personality, and it is the development of this personality that is so important in order that the temporal and eternal decision he or she makes will be his or her own.
This applies to the material world.
The purpose of the teacher is to draw out and show how to do. In drawing out of the will and action of the child upon the knowledge that has been imparted, we have the development of a personality.
This applies to the religious world.

Christianity is a personal religion. It is centered in a Person. It makes its appeal not only to a group, but also to an individual person. The aim of the Sunday school teacher, then, is not merely to impart Bible knowledge. It is not even to make the child a Christian. No one can make any person a Christian. God must speak to him or her personally. The Holy Spirit must work personally with him or her. If they accept Jesus Christ it will be entirely a personal matter. Thus it is supremely necessary that the personality of the child be developed that he or she may act rightly in this all-important matter, not because we earnestly desire it, or because they see others taking this step, but BECAUSE HIS OR HER OWN WILL RESPONDS TO THE PERSONAL APPEAL OF GOD.


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1. Observation
Park by a school ground and watch the children play. Also a city playground is a good place. Visit a schoolroom.
2. Reminiscence
Always remember you were once a child. Stop and think of your own childhood. What were your interests? NEVER FORGET, YOU WERE A TEENAGER!
3. Literature
There are many good books on childhood and childhood behavior.
4. Science
Dr. Narramore’s books are a good source of scientific study.


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Professor H. H. Horne, in his 'Idealism in Education', names three important forces that operate in the building of life

Heredity, Environment, and Will

Since the latter force is so vitally associated with personality it would seem preferable to use that term instead of will. These three forces, heredity, environment and will [personality] combine in the making of each individual life:
1. Heredity Bestows capacity
2. Environment Provides opportunity
3. Personality Recognizes capacity and improves opportunity

As Professor Horne so clearly puts it, “The child is born in part, he is made in part, and in part he makes himself.”

1. Children inherit tendencies, not character.
2. Grandparents rather than parents determine heredity.
‘…Visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.’ Exodus 20:5
Also ‘When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.’ 2 Timothy 1:5
3. Heredity is more marked in adolescence than in childhood.


Like heredity, this is something of which the child is the recipient. HE IS HELPLESS. There is NO more important factor in the formation of life than:
Not only does the home have conclusive control of the power of heredity, but it also furnishes the environment for the most impressionable years of life. It is the home the child gets his or her first and most enduring ideas of God:
1. The Mother.
During the most impressionable years of life the mother is the child’s constant companion and almost his only teacher.
2. The Father.
While the mothers’ influence is the strongest in childhood, the father’s is especially prominent in the period of adolescence.
Beginning with the sixth year, other agencies unite with the home in contributing to the environment of the child:
1. The School.
Molding the intellect and thinking of the child.
2. The Church.
The influence of the church should begin in the nursery and continue through childhood. The initial contribution of the church to the child is largely in the FAMILY PEW and the SUNDAY SCHOOL.
3. The Gang.
It is called a gang instead of a club because in its early days it is an unorganized group.
So far the child has not had a part in shaping his own life. We discover very early in life that he or she has a will of their own. Partly we shape him or she and partly he or she must shape themselves. In childhood we may act upon him or her, but in adolescence he or she will act for himself or herself:
1. Habits Shape a personality.
2. Expression Intensifies a personality.
3. Religion Controls a personality.

Character is not so much made up of impulses as restraints. All psychologists agree as to the controlling influences of religion. To be irreligious is to say, “I will not be controlled.”


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The wise man said, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 Men who have questioned the infallible certainty of this law have not realized what is meant by the word is “train:”
Many children have been told.
Some have been taught.
Few have been trained.

Education is not merely a telling process. It is not even a teaching process. It involves TRAINING!

What is the difference?
1. Telling is helping to KNOW.
2. Teaching is helping to KNOW and GROW.
3. Training is helping to KNOW and GROW and DO.

Many teachers are prone to talk rather than teach because they regard their task an impartation of knowledge. EDUCATION is not merely the acquisition, but the USE of knowledge.

It involves growth and action.


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1. Acquisition: Storing up knowledge, facts.
2. Assimilation: To take up and make a part of itself or oneself; absorb and incorporate, digest.
3. Application: A putting to use.

‘Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.’ 1 Timothy 1:7

The religious training of a child is a complex and comprehensive process. It involves
his WILL
To be educated religiously he or she must KNOW, FEEL, and DO.

That the child may KNOW, adequate provision must be made in the educational program for:
1. INFORMATION: Materials; methods of teaching.
2. WORSHIP: As knowledge has to do with intellect, worship has to do with emotion. The one (information) has to do with the head, while Worship has to do with the heart.

A man can love God will all his heart even when he cannot know Him perfectly. William Jennings Bryan said, “The decisions of the heart are more to be depended upon than those of the head.”

Children are not born atheists or agnostics. THROUGH NEGLECT THEY BECOME SO.

In the present program of the Sunday school only six per cent of its emphasis is placed upon worship. The neglect of a program of worship is manifested in the later relations of the child or adult to the church, such as:
1. ATTENDANCE: Why do older boys and girls, young people and adults, not attend church irregularly? THEY HAVE NEVER BEEN TRAINED.
2. PUNCTUALITY: Why is it that children and adults are late to church and Sunday school when they are not late elsewhere? LACK OF TRAINING.
3. EXPRESSION: As knowledge has to do with intellect, and worship has to do with emotion, so expression has to do with will.

It is necessary that the pupil be allowed to enter into the activity by doing things to develop his or her character by doing things. Psychology teaches that a child remembers
10% of what he or she hears,
50% of what he or she sees,
70% of what he or she says, and
90% of what he or she does.
Since he or she is more likely to remember what he or she says and what he or she does, we need to give attention to expressional methods (he or she can’t turn you off). One of the great problems today is the multitude of do-nothing Christians in our churches. If our children are taught to sit still and listen: as adults they will continue to sit still and listen.

Jesus laid great stress upon expression in His religious program:
1. “Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:24
2. “"But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man.” Matthew 7:26
3. “"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Matthew 7:21
4. “ But be doers of the word, and not hearers only.” James 1:22


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The Jewish home.
In Bible times Jewish education began with the mother. Long before the child could go to school or synagogue, prayer and Bible stories were taught to the child.
The Colonial home.
During the colonial period of our country we find another home where religious education was paramount. The husband and father was high priest. The Bible was the textbook.
The Modern home.
What place does the Bible occupy in the average American home today? There never was a time in the history of the nation when there was less instruction from the Bible in the home. Even among church members, parent-teachers of religion are the exception rather than the rule.

In fact, one writer declares that 90% of professing Christians no longer maintain a family altar. The American Institute of Public Opinion recently discovered that 65% of the adults polled could not give the names of the first four books of the New Testament. A nation, which today leads the world in crime and divorce is not likely to afford many homes where religious training will have its proper place. The intensive life of the American people, with father immersed in business and golf, and mother involved in club activities and politics, is not conducive to the furtherance of home training.

The chief textbook of the home today is the comic section of the sensational newspaper, if not the comic magazine itself. The child’s chief educator is the vice, violence, and vulgarity depicted at the movie or on the television screen in the home. For the truths of the Bible, the parent permits substitution of wild imagination of the screen with its dangerous fascinations for the impressionable mind of the child. We find that one week’s attendance at the movies is five times the number that will congregate in all our churches and Sunday schools.

Not only does the child attend the movies five times more frequently, but also he learns five times more readily than in the Sunday school. Most Sunday school teachers, OWING TO LACK OF TRAINING, use the EAR-GATE while the movie makes use of the EYE-GATE, and, as we have seen before, the child remembers 50% of what he or she sees and only 10% of what he or she hears. The responsibility of child training among Protestants has been shifted from both the home and school to the church. Before the church can even APPROACH THE STUPENDOUS TASK which Protestants have relegated to its shoulders, parents will have to see that children attend Sunday school with as great regularity as they attend public school.

The failure of the church to assume its responsibility is shown by the following facts:
1. Churches are built and equipped for adults rather than children.
2. Church programs are primarily prepared for adults.
3. Ministers are trained to preach rather than to teach.
4. The Sunday school is inadequately financed.
5. The Sunday school is inadequately organized and graded.

Three-fourths of the children of the country are not being reached, and those who are enrolled in Sunday school attend only about half the time. The educational agencies of the church are its chief recruiting forces. "The Sunday school is a gold mine of the church. The pastor and the people now put into its development only 10% of the church’s income, 10% of the time of the pastor and members, and yet it yields 90% of the new members, workers, and new home contacts. The dividends have a long record of steady payments. Good church strategy would suggest that the pastor and the people provide this enormously productive department with equipment, leadership, hard thinking, and broad planning.”

In this study we break Teacher Training out into these sections:
Infancy 0-3   Cradle roll
Nursery 3   Nursery
Early Childhood 4-5 Kindergarten Beginners
Middle Childhood 6-8 1, 2, 3 Primary
Later Childhood 9-11 4, 5, 6 Junior
Early Adolescence 12-14 Junior High Intermediate
Middle Adolescence 15-17 Senior High Seniors
Later Adolescence 17-24 College Young People


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