Appropriate Sunday School Lesson for 7 and 8 Year Olds???

Updated on August 19, 2013
J.B. asks from Katy, TX
20 answers

This morning our daughter told us the lesson in Sunday school was about the two women fighting over a baby after one of theirs had died. They take the baby to the King to let him decide and he suggests cutting the baby in half to solve the problem. 1 Kings 3:16-28 is the complete story.
We asked our daughter what was trying to be taught, or what the lesson was and she really couldn't come up with an answer, not to say an answer or moral wasn't spelled out and she didn't catch it, just that she couldn't relay it to us.
So my question; Is this appropriate for children of this age? With literally thousands of stories in the Bible to teach so many lessons.

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So What Happened?

I fully understand the story and the moral and the King and the lesson. This wasn't about me, it's about a 7yr old wondering why a baby was about to be cut in half. That was all I was trying to ask. I understand the teacher may have failed the kids at this point.

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answers from Portland on

While not inappropriate for that age, it seems it wasn't taught at a 7 year old level. Teacher fail.

I agree with what 8kidsdad said.

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answers from Los Angeles on

The story can be very appropriate or very inappropriate for 7 & 8 year olds, depending on how the teacher taught it. The teacher didn't teach it as one of love and selflessness or if they did, the children didn't get the message.

You know what the message is and what should have been conveyed. Now take the lesson and reteach it on her level and if you do that successfully, you will see the light switch on and see understanding come into your daughter's eyes.

The teacher just didn't teach it on an 8 year old level.

Good luck to you and yours.

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answers from Chattanooga on

Many of the bible stories can be considered "inappropriate" for children... If you want to stick to only happy stories, Sunday School will become very repetitive! Lol.

The trick is to present the story in an appropriate way, and to clearly define the lesson that is to be learned.

If you want to attach a meaning to this, it can be that a wise king understands his subjects... And that a mother will sacrifice anything- even her reputation, or the ability to be with her baby- to save the life of her child.

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answers from Dallas on

I teach first and second grade Sunday School. There are many factors in teaching that influence HOW you teach your lessons. I have done this for about 12 yrs and I have raised kids. I pretty much understand what the kids understand ( literal minds) and what is going to go right over their heads. But experience with kids that age is key. Her teacher might have been conveying something in a too complicated way. You need to put the cookies on the bottom shelf for these kids. Sorry, that didn't happen. it's not a story that we teach our kids that age.

My H one time drew a blank when trying to remember the word, Shepherd. He stumbled a min and then said, Sheep man, as in a man who cared for the sheep. But the look on the kids faces told him they were thinking, half man, half sheep! Lol!

Could you explain what was happening in the story? Parents are the first teachers of God's word. It's not only your privilege to do so, but your responsibility, according to the Bible.

The King is Solomon, David's son. When David died and then the kingdom fell to Solomon, he was overwhelmed with the responsibility. He cried out to God, not for riches or power but for wisdom to judge so great a people. God was so pleased with his selfless request that He gave Soloman great wisdom..and riches and power. Leaders from all around came to hear His wisdom and judgement. The story you are talking about is about how he decided which woman was the real mom to the baby, as each woman claimed. He proposed to cut the baby in half, knowing that the real mom would rather her baby live and be someone eles's child than be split in half.
The real mom cried out, No! He revealed the true mom by his wisdom. No DNA required. Solomon understood people. He wasn't just a man with knowledge or money or power. It was wisdom, a gift given by God, as all true wisdom is.

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answers from Grand Forks on

My Sunday school class is a one room class, ages 6-12, and I have taught it.

ETA: As a Sunday school teacher I do not pick the stories, I work from a curriculum purchased by the church.

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answers from Washington DC on

sure. i learned that one even younger. the OT is rough. so are traditional fairy tales and nursery rhymes. and as for the ancient myths......hoo boy!
kids are not as fragile as modern parents want them to be.

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answers from Springfield on

When I decided to go to graduated school for theology, I had a lot of people tell me that it would challenge my faith. I thought, "Really?" I always thought learning more about my faith would help deepen my faith. I have to say, I wasn't too concerned.

So, I started taking classes and found them fascinating. But many of my classmates were, in fact, shocked! They had always been taught to take the Bible literally and were taught certain rules and hadn't really considered challenging them or thinking for themselves. So what I was learning from my professors was interesting, but I can't say any of it upset me. The reactions of some of my classmates, however, shocked the hell out of me!

My parents asked me questions. They talked to me about what we did in Sunday school and what I learned and what I thought and encouraged me to think and to ask questions. They told me that they weren't always thrilled with the homilies. Sometimes they were great! But other times they left Mass thinking, "Huh. That was the best the priest could come up with?"

There are way too many people who have just kind of accepted their faith at face value and not really thought about it too much or whether what they were being taught even made sense. It's so sad.

I understand what you're saying, but try to look at this as an opportunity. The Sunday School teacher could have done a great job (and your daughter was distracted by something else), or he/she could have completely dropped the ball. Either way, this is your opportunity to connect with your daughter and talk about your faith. If you make a habit of talking to her about Sunday School now, you'll have a wonderful relationship with her when the deeper questions arise in the tween and teen years!

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answers from San Francisco on

Hey J.,
I would ask the Sunday school teacher about it!
Yes, it's probably a somewhat clueless parent volunteer (I was myself a young mom once, attempting to do good and teach my kids Godly lessons.) Not in a confrontational way, more of a "hey there was an interesting lesson last week, and I just want to reinforce whatever it was you were trying to teach, so what was that?"
You're right, the Bible is full of stories, many valuable, and many are disturbing, outdated and just downright violent.
So talk to the teacher/volunteer, read the story yourself (not familiar with this one but YIKES, sounds like a man not wanting to get in the middle of a female squabble!) and go from there.
~Mama Z

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Of course it's appropriate. Perhaps she didn't pay attention or the teacher didn't convey the moral of the lesson the best way.

The moral of this story can be many things.

It can be about mother's love, she loved her child enough to let them go to save their life, even if they'd never see them again.

It's also a good story about how someone can be a good judge, make hard decisions even when it's hard.

I think of how Solomon asked God for wisdom. This story is one that shows God's blessing to Solomon. He was very wise in this story.

King Solomon was one of the most important people in the old testament and even today, his lessons and achievements linger to this day.

So learning about him helps set up for the rest of the whole old testament and even some of the new testament.

He's very important. If the teacher didn't mention the ladies were prostitutes and didn't go into their family style then this story should have been very easy for the kids to understand, even if they got the wrong moral and got that the mother loved her baby so much she'd let him go to someone else so he'd live.

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answers from Austin on

Seriously, do we have to start crucifying Sunday School teachers now? First, we criticize every move made by teachers in the schools, especially when the story comes from the child's point of view. Now we are going to assume the volunteer Sunday School teacher failed, in the words of many posters...

No 7 or 8 year old is going to get every lesson. It is up to the parents, in my opinion, to fill in the gaps. Just like we can't expect our kids' school teachers to be the best at discipline, story-telling, math, nurse, psychologist, spelling, referee, etc. every day. If your child didn't understand adding double digits, then teach it to them.

Same thing in Sunday School. Ask her if she thought about how selfish we can be just like the mom who lost her baby. She was so desperate that she lied. Ask your daughter when she is tempted to lie. Then talk about how wise the king was in suggesting cutting the baby in half and how he would surely never do it. Ask your daughter what she remembers happened after the king made such a silly suggestion. Can the volunteer Sunday School teacher talk to each individual child to see if they understood it? No. But it is a great beginning to the kind of spiritual teaching that can be done at home. Me personally, I think it is a great story for a 7 or 8 year old, because it is difficult to forget. And young children can be selfish and lie when they get desperate.

I am just saddened by all the "teacher fail" comments. I hope this volunteer never reads these.

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answers from San Francisco on

I won't describe it as "inappropriate," but I would say that it's unnecessary. And if your daughter didn't understand what the lesson of the story was supposed to be, then I don't see what the point of using that particular story was.

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answers from Washington DC on

It's about King Solomon who was known for being wise. God asked Solomon what he wanted and Solomon turned down riches for wisdom.

In this case, he was basically calling the liar's bluff. He knew the real mother would never allow for her child to be cut in half and would reveal herself through her actions. It was about being wise, not child mutilation.

It's hard to say if the lesson was properly presented to that age group or not, and maybe it was and your DD just fixated on the method vs the lesson. I find it helpful to go back through my child's worksheets and stories (she gets little printed booklets each week) to make sure I know what she's heard and to clarify anything misunderstood. If she misunderstood, that is when I need to make sure she understands the intent of the lesson. And sometimes I learn more about a story I thought I knew, too.

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answers from Dallas on

Yes, of course. The whole bible should be taught from young ages. (In my opinion.)

How well was she listening? This doesn't have to be the teacher's fault. Don't assume the teacher failed, first make sure your child is being a good student.

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answers from Los Angeles on

You can find a cartoon version of this Bible story on Youtube, made for little kids. You can explain it to her.

Some adults know how to teach/reach children, some do not. Sounds like a teacher fail. The baby was never going to be cut in half. It was a threat to get to the truth (who was telling the truth and who was lying).

Aside from that, a little plug, I'm interested in buying these DVDs for my 9 yr old. There are great reviews on Amazon.

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answers from New York on

The baby was never going to be cut in half. Tell your daughter that and go over the story with her. Mymission explained the story very well. My son sometimes gets stuck on the more graphic images of the bible stories as well!

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answers from Houston on

The lesson is great but the wording is definitely wrong.

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answers from Miami on

I'm sorry, J.. There are so many Sunday school teachers who just don't "get" that some stories in the Bible need to wait for when the kids are older, including this story.

As an adult, I sat in a children's church class and heard the minister's wife tell about Samson and the Philistines to these little kids, and how when he pulled down the temple, that all the Philistines in the temple died horrible deaths, and wasn't that wonderful! Sigh... what is wrong with people????

I think that you have 3 choices to make. Either you talk to the teacher and explain that even though something comes from the Bible, it isn't necessarily appropriate for young ears - things like cutting a baby in two. Ask her if she will have more Bible lessons like this. If she does, you need to keep your daughter home from church and she needs to let you know by email so that you can do that. Second choice, find another church that has more sophisticated teachers. Third, put up with it.

There are SO many wonderful stories that can be told, that a teacher does NOT need to pick the bloody ones. The moral of the story can wait until these children are older to share through these kinds of stories.

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answers from Houston on

Many parts of the Bible aren't easy to understand on the first reading, or the first lesson. Scholars and theologians still discuss the passage you mentioned (as well as many, many others) and all that might be learned from it. Don't expect your 7 year old or her teacher to be able to understand and explain all the complexities of it, or any other passage. The family discussion of the passage is as important, rich, and valuable as what was presented in Sunday School.

If you have questions about what she is taught in the future, call the SS teacher or the pastor and ask what might be the best way to discuss this with her. It's important that we not sugar-coat the gospel. Also important to learn about our faith as we teach it to our children.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

I think that if the teacher was going to use that story, she should have made DAMN sure that the kids understood the point of it. Otherwise, all she did was put some very disturbing images in the kids' heads.

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answers from Chicago on

I think it was a teacher fail. I think that a 7yr old still needs things to be plainly spelled out. I do not use the Bible as part of my faith, however I still think that it has some good lessons in it such as this one. I also think no matter the Bible story, fable or fairy tale if the message is delivered wrong then there was NO point in delivering it at all.

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