Teaching Your Child about Easter

Easter is first and foremost about Jesus and His ultimate expression of love for us. This means planning ways to involve each family member, regardless of age, in meaningful dialogue and activity related to Jesus.

Packing our car for trips is a big task. Everyone has different priorities about what should go and what will fit. It all sits in the driveway, waiting to be loaded. However, after three children and countless road trips to Texas and New Mexico, I have learned one little secret. The big important stuff goes in first. I know this is because I have started with the small stuff, the unimportant stuff, and the incidental stuff, only to discover that we had no room left for the important things like clothing or medicine.

This same principle is true when you teach preschoolers and children important truths from the Bible. If teaching a child biblical truths is going to be important and ongoing, it must be put first. This can be incredibly difficult during seasonal celebrations. The community, school, church, merchants, and family line up outside the car with many good, seemingly important things to load up. The problem is that space is limited.

I feel this way especially near Easter and Christmas. Easter is the most significant Holy Day celebrated by Christians each year, but families and churches can be increasingly sidetracked by the secular marketing of this holiday. The temptation for families is either to leave the emphasis to their church via Sunday School teachers or to attempt to mix the secular theme with the sacred truth, therefore, confusing the child. The downside to either approach is that something important is left in the driveway. The Easter story stands alone and only requires the careful handling of the Bible by a loving parent or family member.

Put the first thing first in your family's Easter celebration. Easter is first and foremost about Jesus and His ultimate expression of love for us. This means planning ways to involve each family member, regardless of age, in meaningful dialogue and activity related to Jesus. With younger preschoolers, it may mean telling the simple story of Jesus and the children and speaking of Jesus’ love for them (Mark 10:13-16).

With older preschoolers and children, it may mean telling the story of Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection (Mark 15-16) in a way that instills hope and joy. Both of these stories help to lay the foundation for the understanding of Jesus' love for people. The Easter story should be told in a way that creates trust and factual understanding. This story begins to encourage the child to grow from his understanding of Jesus as friend to Jesus as Savior. The telling of the story becomes a step in a process that hopefully will lead the child to the point of conversion and spiritual transformation at some point in life.

Helpful hints for your Easter celebration

  • Tell the Easter story in a way that creates hope not fear or anxiety.
  • Tell the story factually from Scripture. Avoid giving nonbiblical, adult details about the brutality of Jesus' death.
  • Allow your child to create his own mental image of the story.
  • Emphasize the fact that Jesus is alive!
  • Load up the family car and include some secular activities if you like, but save the first and best place for the truth about Easter.
Thomas Sanders is director of Masters of Arts in Christian Education: Childhood Ministry, Gary Cook Graduate School of Leadership at Dallas Baptist University, Dallas, Texas. He and his wife, Treva, are the parents of Katie, Jayne Claire, and Kyle.