Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Take it to Heart: Helping Kids Memorize Scripture

By Christine Hoover

Like a good Baptist girl, I grew up doing Bible Drill. We memorized verses, learned the books of the Bible, and competed in drills to see how fast we could recollect what we'd learned. At the time, it wasn't one of my favorite things, but, now, I'm really glad I did it. The verses and passages I memorized are still there, especially those that my friends and I made into rhymes.

Now, I'm purposeful about helping my kids memorize Scripture. Even if the concepts in the verses are sometimes difficult for young minds, I trust that the Lord will begin to help them understand, and that He'll bring the words to mind throughout their lives.

I'm starting to see the fruit of my labor; my kids have Scripture tucked away and even remind me that it's time for Bible verses when I forget in the busyness of our day.

Over time, I've developed a system that works for our family. Here are some tips:

• Start Early
Kids can start around age 3 or even younger if they see an older sibling learning. My oldest, who is 7, is great at memorizing and started young. I tried to push my middle son, now 4, to start at the same age as his older brother and he really resisted to the point of it being a struggle. I decided to stop rather than make it something he despised. He sat and listened to his older brother learn his verses every day and, one day, announced that he was ready to start.

• Be Consistent
We work on our verses during or after snack time every weekday. I write out a group of verses that each child needs to learn in order to receive a reward and hang it on the fridge. Everyday, we review the one they just learned and then work on the latest verse. My middle son prefers saying all of his verses in order everyday, but my older son only does it once a week as a review. Each day, they get a sticker for the verse they’re working on.

• Celebrate Effort and Successes
I try to make this time as fun as possible and I celebrate with them with each verse they learn. After they reach the benchmark I’ve set for them, they say their verses for Dad and then get to pick out a small toy as a reward.

• Explain Why
We discuss why we’re memorizing verses from the Bible, the importance of the Bible, and the meaning of the verses we’re memorizing. I have had many opportunities to share the gospel with my children during our memory work.

• Reinforce with Music
I’ve found the most helpful reinforcement is in the form of verses set to music. My kids love “Seeds Family Worship” and Steve Green's “Hide ‘Em In Your Heart” songs. I have been shocked at how fast they pick up verses just from listening to music as we drive around in the car.

I have discovered that my attitude toward Scripture memory is the same attitude my children will have. If I make it drudgery or an obligation each afternoon, they resist doing it. However, when I make the process fun and relaxed and praise their hard work, they enjoy that time.

The best part of consistency in Scripture memory with my children is that I am learning it all right alongside them and, according to Psalm 119:11, helping my kids hide truth in their hearts.

Christine lives in Charlottesville, VA with her pastor-husband and three young boys. She bribes her sons to learn Scripture with time playing Mario Kart and trips to the Dollar Store. Follow her life as a pastor's wife and mom at hooverhousehold.blogspot.com.