Do you want your son to obey? Since childhood, bring him up in the punishment and teachings of the Lord. Do not think that hearing the Divine Scriptures was unnecessary for him ... we will force them from an early age to practice reading the Scriptures.
- St. John Chrysostom 
To bring up children in the teaching and instruction of the Lord. Teach children the basics of Orthodox culture. Teach children the Holy Scriptures. Teach the children of the Law of God ... All this is approximately the same thing. But how to get down to this business - an important, important business of parenting? In the end, when exactly to approach, from what age to begin? When to start reading the Bible, the gospel with the children? When to start preparing children for church holidays, when to tell them about this or that event in the life of the Church? When to start talking about the structure of the church, worship?
The law of God is a special thing. Of course, this is actually the subject of study, a set of some knowledge. But in the first place this is something more - a way of life. This is generally such a life. Life inside the Orthodox culture. Life under God's Law. And in this life, in theory, we should bring our children. In theory and in practice, in word and deed. Or, as the ancients used to say, βίον και λόγον - teaching "life and word" .
If conditionally, then the teaching of children to the Law of God can be represented in the form of such parts.
Obtaining information, knowledge; theory. This is actually the subject itself. For example, the study of the texts of the Holy Scripture, a consistent description of the biblical events and their explanation. Or, for example, the description of the temple, its device. Liturgics, hagiography and other lofty words also refer here.
This is when we connect the word with the deed. When learning is associated with the life of the student. In short and simpler: when we organize our home, the life of our family so that it is a life inside the Orthodox culture. Everything: the relationship between father and mother, the order of the day and the week, holidays, fasts - all this is built on the very same Law of God, which is also an object, as a theory we all study.
By the way, this is the unique opportunity for family education. The ability to connect theory with practice. The ability to make a child's education is not a piece, not a fragment, but a fullness of life.
When we create such a "learning environment", "educating environment" in our home, then we greatly facilitate our task. With this practice, teaching the theory turns out to be natural, easy, literally built into the child's life.
And still, when we practically teach children the Law of God, when we build our family as an "environment" of Orthodox culture, we get the opportunity to catch a mysterious, ephemeral and such a precious thing: to build your house as a small church. After all, this is actually a small Church - when the family lives, tries to at least live, just in the Law of God, just in Orthodox culture.
The top of the teaching of the Law of God is life in the Church. Participation in the sacraments. Life in the rhythm of the church year. The teaching in this our main school is in our spiritual school, in the Church, where our teachers are priests, bishops. Fathers of the Church, who have taught and continue to teach us for more than two thousand years.
Here the theory is just turning into practice. Actually, we study the theory of the Law of God precisely in order to enter the Church, in order to understand, in order to learn, in order to realize the life of the Church.
So the theoretical study of the Law of God is a step, a preparation for life in the Church. So the family - the small Church - turns out to be included in this great church. Education and education in such a family is the preparation (and then the consolidation) of the upbringing and education of the church.
All this together is a single, indissoluble process. This all taken together is "teaching children to the Law of God." And all these elements of "learning" exist simultaneously, simultaneously. Not that they first "learned" something, then "mastered" their home life, then "consolidated" in the Church. Here, one thing, then another, without end and beginning, envelops, forms-forms. And our children, and ourselves, and our whole house.
When we ourselves begin to live the church life, when we ourselves participate in the church sacraments, when we ourselves study something, we read the holy fathers - so we are already beginning to teach our children to the Law of God. Even if we do not have children yet. Because that's how we prepare ourselves as educators and teachers for our children. Sly such a twist: it turns out that our self-education is the formation of the personality of the educator of our own children.
When we begin to build our family, our marriage, we are preparing the very "cultural environment" in which we are to begin, be born and brought up to our children. From what grounds the father and mother are building their relationship, their marriage, that's the beginning of the child's education for the Law of God. In this relationship, in this value system we will give birth - we will bring - our child-pupil.
There is still no baby or he is only in the maternal tummy - but the culture of the family is already being formed. For example, father and mother are already starting and ending their day with prayer. Already on Sundays they go to the temple. Already receive communion. They are already trying to build themselves and their relations on the Law of God, on the teaching of the Church. So "from the belly of his mother" our baby begins "to study the law of God."
The baby was not born yet, but already in the temple, where his mother takes communion. And dad is already praying for him
He is still in the tummy - but his mother is already taking communion. And the Pope prays for him and already now blesses him before going to sleep. The first vague sounds that the baby hears are including the sounds of worship in the temple.
The kid was only born - but every Sunday he is in the temple. He still does not know anything, but he is brought to the icons, anointed with holy oil, communion. The temple, the choir, the icons, the incense, the burning candles - all this is part of his life, as organic as the usual prosaic things: a nanny-nipple, a stroller, my mother's hair, a native chandelier on the ceiling in the bedroom ...
In this in everything the baby grows. And thus educated and already trained. Not verbal yet. So far, just life. Life inside the Orthodox culture. With this culture he breathes, drinks. It becomes a part of his life. This is his life.
But there is such an important point: that the family as a cultural environment, that the family as a small Church really was an educational space for our children, that the whole system work as effectively as possible, children should live within the family. Live in the family.
I do not say: to isolate them from the world, not to let them into schools, to lock them from friends and relatives - nothing like this, in any case. But that the family had an educational value, the house should be an important place in the life of the child. Not the only one - namely, significant. Only a significant environment can have a real impact on the formation of the child's personality. The child should be banally included in the life of the parents, in its rhythm. Otherwise, a slightly different picture is obtained, other conditions of the problem, other approaches and ways of realizing the goals set. And in general, a completely different story turns out.
We can always create an environment of Orthodox culture in our home. And before the birth of the baby, and during and after. But when we are actually talking about training, here, of course, we must somehow relate to the age of the student. And even not so much with age, but with his ability, readiness to hear something, listen, learn.
And here, by the way, we, the parents, again have a completely unique opportunity: if we are attentive to our children, if we are close to them, then we can catch this elusive moment in time. We can start training our children just when they are ready for it.
When exactly, at what stage of the development of the child can we teach it to the Law of God? Here the principle is simple. All the "usual" stages, activities - all this can turn in the direction of "religious" training. Similarly, exactly parallel.
We say to the kid: "Look: bird. Look: the flower. " So, we can already say: "Look: the temple. Look: the cross, and on it - our Lord. "
Is the kid able to look at the pictures? Is it possible to find a princess, a house, a sun in the book? So, we can show the kid and the icon. Tell where it is pictured. In his words, pointing to each subject, explaining. We can ask him to show: where on the icon of the introduction to the temple a little Virgin Mary? Where is Her daddy, where's Mom? where are the candles? ..
He is already clearly meaningful listening to fairy tales? Hence, one can also listen to biblical stories
The kid is already clearly meaningful listening to fairy tales, stories? So he can listen to the Bible stories. After hearing "Tales of the dead princess and seven heroes" can already answer the question, what was the name of the prince? Hence, after the story of the creation of the first people, we can ask the child to name their names.
Did the kid learn to draw, though somehow? So, he can illustrate the biblical story he heard.
The baby is already molding plasticine figurines? So, in a condition to blind some crafts and on a biblical theme.
The child learned to write, read in Russian? Or even just studying? Hence, he is able to learn and Church Slavonic. At the same, primitive level as the modern Russian language.
Does the child sing songs? So, prayers can also be sung. Even if it just hoots inappropriately - it means that it can also hike during the general home service.
Is the child able to repeat the phrase? Hence, able to read a short prayer
The child is able to repeat the phrase, learn by heart the quatrain? So, you can read some short prayer.
And so it is always, and so in everything.
For example, if we are talking about the study of texts, plots of Scripture, then the picture is as follows. At 2-3, the kid just looks at the picture in the children's Bible with his father, looks at the frescoes in the temple together with his mother. At 4-5 years he listens to Bible stories, answers the simplest questions after such stories, makes crafts on biblical themes - to church holidays or as an illustration-fixation after studying some biblical story. And then the child will be able to analyze, compare ...
Everything - literally everything - that the child knows and what interests him will turn to the Law of God
In 3 year the kid just comes to the temple, knows what a dome and a cross are. And in 10 years he is able to master the theme of the device of the temple. After all, he was able to study in school "the water cycle in nature" and the analysis of the proposal for composition.
Gradually, a spiral of information obtained "in childhood" will be threaded more and more new turns - in accordance with the interests and development of the child. We will analyze the geography of the Bible, life, and other interesting factual information. We will get deeper acquainted with the texts. Let's move forward in Church Slavonic - the children will read and listen to the Bible in this language. Well mastered English - we will read with them not only O'Henry's stories in this language, but also the texts of Holy Scripture. Or maybe we will also analyze the Greek original ... Everything - not even in accordance with age, namely with the needs, with the aspirations of the child himself. Everything that interests our children in "ordinary" life, everything that they can do at all - all of this - literally everything - will be turned every time towards the Law of God.
The earlier we begin to deal with children, to teach them - it is to teach, explain, tell in words - the better. And it's not that they understand what our kids will remember. Few will understand and badly remember. We will repeat approximately the same thing, but more and more difficult and more serious year after year, every year - and repetition will become the mother of the teaching.
But the most important thing in "early learning" is this: if we teach (we sat down, opened a book, shown, asked to repeat) children from the very outset of infancy, our children "with mother's milk" begin to perceive parents as teachers. Accept parental teaching and teaching from parents as part of life. And in this case, the training of a seven-year, ten-year, thirteen-year-old child is not a revolution in relations between children and parents, but an organic part of the child-parent relationship.
Since the very beginning of childhood, we have introduced these relations into our home-educational relations. When the daddy - not only the master of driving and the pocket money handler, is not only a curser for bad marks and a toddler to the ceiling, but also a teacher. When mom - not only a specialist in cooking cutlets, the ban on round-the-clock watching cartoons and the floor washer, but still ... another teacher. And these roles are already self-evident. Because "it was always", from birth.
You can talk about the age, when, how and what to tell the children about the Bible. But this is when it comes to a single child. But in fact, we are so tuned only to our first child. Then the next baby is born and grows up. And we already teach them both. Then the third, fourth, fifth baby appears, and the older ones grow ... And it turns out that our studies are focused on a three-year-old baby, and on junior schoolchildren and teenagers.
Education in the family is training in a different age group. Very different. So, the first child in our country received everything "according to his age", we taught him taking into account his personal development. But the fifth child receives the same knowledge a little differently: he participates in our home lesson, listening to a story focused on middle-aged children of the family, with references to the older teenage child.
Seeing that everyone in the family reads and studies the Scriptures, the baby will learn: it is very important and interesting
Who won, who lost? All have won - both the senior, and younger. About the elders, for whom everything is special, specifically focused on them, it seems understandable. And about younger it turns out here that. Younger people receive such a thing as advanced training, training given the zone of proximal development and all that other clever. At the same time, in general, our younger students receive roughly the same things as their older brothers and sisters. Because the Law of God is one: for the baby, for the boy, and for the elderly.
And also our kids, who study with their older brothers and sisters, receive a special powerful bonus. Toddlers see, for example, that the Holy Scriptures study everything. They have before their eyes an example of older brothers and sisters who listen to Mom's story about a vision of the prophet Isaiah. And these elders are keen, they ask some questions ... So, it's all important, interesting, it's worth attention. It turns out that this is how the human life is arranged: the mother with the Bible in her hand reads the texts, and the children listen to it and disassemble it ...
So the older brothers and sisters are an example of discipleship for the younger ones. So the younger children in the family get into the already formed and organized educational environment. And by the way, this does not exhaust all the benefits of uneven education. But that is another story.
So it turns out that in a large family, where the teaching of children of the Law of God is built into the life of the family, "there always was", there is no such border as "the beginning of learning". Literally since birth, this baby is present at home lessons. And as he grows up, he gradually becomes involved in this training. And, by the way, in this case it is even easier to notice the readiness of the baby for this or that kind of training. For example, all children received a task, they paint something. And the kid from imitation, too, something draws. You look - and he really did picture something about the given topic. So, here it is, the degree of his personal readiness.
How to bring one lesson - one story, one reading - to each of our children? How to include them all in the overall work?
For example, in the course of the story, you can ask children questions. That one, then another. Simple questions - to the kid, difficult - to children. You can ask the elders to tell something to the younger. In this case, older children receive the role of a teacher - which means they themselves remember something, repeat it. Learn to formulate, and so, to bring your thoughts to the kids. Often the story of older children is incomparably more comprehensible for toddlers than the story of an adult. When a 10-year-old child tells something to a five-year-old, he does not squeak. And it does not say too complicated things. Explains the way that we adults do not even come up with to explain. This child's thinking is unobscured, imaginative, direct.
Often the story of older children is incomparably more comprehensible for toddlers than the story of an adult
If we are studying, say, a story about a worldwide flood, then all of us - both the "old" fourteen-year-olds and the small newborns-listen to the text of the Bible from the popes. Then we discuss - the small ones obviously do not discuss, at the best, they just listen. With older children the discussion can sometimes go to the very jungle of philology, history, geography and theological interpretations. And then we make crafts with the little ones: we make an ark of plasticine, we plant animals there. And adolescents can be enthusiastically involved in this modeling, and may not even look toward this infantile fuss. So it turns out that different children participate in different stages of one lesson. But the lesson remains one for all.
Or here it is. We prepare the troparion for the twelve-day holiday - in the Church Slavonic language. So, in the simplest form we get acquainted with the divine service of the holiday. We get acquainted with the doctrine of the Church about the feast. We are preparing for participation in the service, because when the children learn the troparion, they will be able to understand and hear this text at the Vigil and during the Liturgy, they can sing along with the priests and the choir ... And in this way we learn the Church Slavonic language. Yes, and we are preparing an ornament for the home interior - after all we hang up the beautifully prepared text of the troparion on the wall near the icons. It turns out literally all in one - a concentrated and practical lesson of the Law of God in the family. I have written about this many times before.
Here we will talk about how children of different ages can participate in this "lesson" for studying the troparion. We read the troparion out loud for all the children, all together listen or watch the recording of this troparion on the Internet. Then the child, say, ten years old, writes this troparion in Church Slavonic, beautiful. Then the child of seven years makes out the initial: the big first letter of the troparion makes it special. And the kid of years five draws - maybe, already with mum's help - an ornamental frame. In fact, everything always goes differently. So, the text of the troparion, it seems to be the most difficult part, is prepared just by a toddler of five or six years old, who then simply flips the mummy text. But the design involved older teens who themselves are fond of drawing and all this design. And, according to our tradition, "isolate" images of the holiday and capture these images on our poster with the troparion. For example, for the Feast of the Entry into the Temple, they depict an ornate staircase.
Or another option: one child prepares himself, completely, troparion, another - kontakion, the third - magnification. A senior writes this very troparion in Greek.
Here, the common and the individual are united in uneven-aged education. Everyone does exactly the same thing, we all prepare for one holiday together and study the same material for this. But everyone at the same time does what is in his power and what he is interested in at the moment.
In general, when to begin teaching children to the Law of God, this question is solved by itself. Practice. In the event that from the very beginning, from the beginning of our relationship in marriage, we are building our home as an environment of Orthodox culture. If we immediately begin to perceive ourselves as teachers and educators of our children with the birth of the first child. If we include teaching, the doctrine of faith, the doctrine of the Church in the life of one's family. In the daily routine and the week. In their own range of reading, in their own range of interests. And if we into this all such educational, learning-learning, we involve our children. And at the same time, if we are attentive to our children.
Then our children are born not only as beloved toddlers, but also as our new pupils. And they come to the world of our family as a school. Where training is not a painful duty, not a piece of life - but life itself. Interesting. Special. Complete. Life in the teaching and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6: 4).
 John Chrysostom, prelate. In epistulam ad Ephesios XXI // PG. 62. 151; also John Chrysostom, prelate. Complete collection of creations. T. 11. Book. 1. S. 185.
 Under the "guidance of the father" (St. Basil Ritor), the hero of the 43 word of St. Gregory the Theologian, "the wonderful Basil the Great" is trained in the cause and the word (βίον και λόγον), which together grow and contribute to each other "(Gregorius Nazianzenus Funebris oratio in laudem Basilii Magni ... // Gregory the Theologian, prelate, collection of creations, edition of the Holy Trinity Sergius Lavra, 1994, T. 1, S. 610). In English we read "life and reason", that is, "life and intellect".