Friday, January 13, 2012

Teaching Children to Memorize Scripture

My children are not over-the-top brilliant (well, to anyone but me and the grandmas), nor are they exceptional memorizers. However, they have been able to put to memory, fairly easily, huge portions of scripture.

It's our job as parents to train our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and though we fail often, our prayer is that our children will grow to have a solid understanding of the Bible. In order to understand it better, they need to meditate on it. In order to meditate on it, they need to put it to memory.

Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright. Proverbs 20:11

Setting Goals
We set memory goals for the entire family as well as for individuals. If you have a large family, I have found it works well to assign memory work in groups:
Family assignments
Big kid's assignments
Little-kid's assignments

For instance, right now the whole family is learning the Ten Commandments. The older children are memorizing the Baptist Shorter Catechism (download the pdf for $1 here ) as well as reading through the Bible in 90 days. The younger children just finished Psalm 27:1-5, are memorizing the Children's Catechism and now, The Beattitudes. Sarah Grace (7) is in between the abilities of the younger kids and the older set, so she is also memorizing Proverbs 31: 10-31.

For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.” Isaiah 28:10

Consistency is the Key
If we can add a new verse to the passage we're learning each day without fail, it is so much easier. But even if we can't, then at least consistently reviewing what we're working on will keep us from forgetting what we've learned.

Designating a specific time during the day is what works best for us. Also, around the table at one of the mealtimes seems to be a good time, or assigning each child a time to come recite to me throughout the day. If you have predictable time in the car, then utilizing the driving time for recitations can make that time more productive.

Children love to be rewarded. It's so encouraging! Some of the rewards we have done in the past for meeting scripture memory goals are:
~A trip to the zoo, camping trip or special restaurant
~A new Lamplighter book or a DVD from Vision Forum or Franklin Springs
~A new Bible
~For shorter passages we might go out for ice cream upon completion, or snow cones in the summertime

When my teen daughters were little girls, we were part of a Keepers of the Faith club and they earned charms that went on a necklace each time they put a passage to memory and could recite it. Rewards are such an incentive!

In order not to forget old passages we've learned in the past, we have to keep reviewing them often. Unfortunately, I fail here and need to do better. I can't expect anyone to remember passages we worked on months ago unless I review them!

We have an index card box with cards listing previously memorized assignments. The idea is that you are supposed (did I mention I'm not being consistent with this part?) to choose a card each day from the box to review. That's a simple way to do it. If you want to get more elaborate you can try this system here that helps you review more often the ones that need more work, and the scripture cards gradually "move down" in their frequency of review once they are thoroughly covered.

Children are capable of so much more than random, broken, mini-verses. A passage, entire chapter or even whole books of the Bible can be memorized and then understood better because of the explanation the rest of the passage provides. Children are capable of so much more than we think they are.

I once met a family who were in the process of memorizing the entire New Testament! Also, the book Ten Peas in a Pod is the true story of a large family who traveled together and into churches to minister, quoting enormous amounts of scripture from memory. Their father could say any random verse from the Bible and the children knew where it was found and could begin quoting from that point on. When the child got tired, another one would start where he/she left off!

Where to Start?
Of course, putting to memory any portion of the Bible is fantastic, but here are a few suggestions:

1 Corinthians 13
Ephesians 6
Isaiah 53
John 15
Matthew 5, 6, 7
Galatians 5
Philippians (book)
Proverbs 3: 1-24
Psalm 15
Psalm 19
Psalm 100
Psalm 103
Psalm 139
Romans 12

I pray our children will ultimately have great portions of the Bible hidden in their hearts, not just their minds!

What about you? Do you require that your children memorize scripture? What are some of your favorites? Do you memorize other things such as a catechism, hymns or prayers of famous Christians? Most importantly, does anyone besides me wonder why the woman in the photo is putting that little boy in a headlock?

Linked up at Raising Arrows


  1. Great post, Bambi. And you crack me up too. BTW...after reading your pukey flu post, I thought, "our family hasn't had that in a long time..." Well guess what started last night? Guess what machine has been running in OUR house ever since? Joe and I and the older boys immediately starting popping the pro-biotic pills that I keep on hand for these types of things...sure hope they work. Aren't you glad you can't catch viruses (like this) over the internet? : )

  2. Hmmmm, makes you wonder doesn't it?? Lol!! Hope the Klegwas are on the mend soon!!

  3. Well, I skimmed through your post, knowing how we do Bible study, etc. in our home, not thinking I'd get much out of it - but, lo and behold - you got me on your last question! I laughed out loud.
    Thanks so much for helping us to keep thinking, and laughing! That's what I appreciate so much about you.

  4. We are currently in the process of memorizing all of Proverbs 3 as a family, and whenever I get stuck my 4 year old helps me out!

  5. My husband and I have been listening to a man who is educated in the Jewish ways and costumes. I am amazed at what their 12 year olds know from memory. Most of them end up memorizing the entire bible. How inspiring! That we would love His word so deeply to make it that important in our lives. What a challenge!

  6. No kidding, Jenny. So true!


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