September 16, 2010

Helping Kids Learn Scripture

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 put to memory are still there, especially those my friends and I made little rhymes for to help us remember.

Kids know and remember more than we give them credit for, don't you think? Based on how I remember what I learned as a kid, I'm purposeful about helping my kids memorize Scripture. Even if the concepts in the verses are sometimes difficult for such 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. As we work on them, it's also an opportunity to talk about the gospel and about things like obedience.

Scripture memory is one of those things that we (as adults or with our kids) often put off or start and then lose our steam. I've been there. Over time, I've developed a system that works for me and for my children. 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.

If you'd like to start with your kids, but don't know where to start, here's what I do and what I've learned through trial and error:

  • Kids can start at age 2-3 or even younger if they see an older sibling doing it. My oldest is great at memorizing and started young, but I tried to push my middle son 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 Will do his verses everyday and everyday I would say, "Reese, are you ready to do your verses?" One random day, he finally said Yes! with enthusiasm and he's never resisted again.
  • We work on our verses during or after afternoon snack 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 (I now keep it in a binder with each verse on a separate page). Everyday, we review the one they just learned and then work on the latest verse. Reese likes to say all of his verses in order and I do this with Will every so often to review. Each day, they get a sticker for the verse their working on.
  • After they reach their benchmark, they get to pick out a toy, but a reward can also be an experience...whatever would be a reward for them. 
  • I try to make this time as fun as possible and I celebrate with them with each verse they learn. Saying the verse to Dad is also a time of celebration and encouragement. We also sometimes talk about why we're memorizing Bible verses and why the Bible is important to us.
  • The most helpful reinforcers of Scripture memory are music CD's with verses set to music. My kids LOVE Seeds Family Worship CD's and Steve Green's Hide Em In Your Heart. I have been shocked at how fast they pick up verses just from listening to these CD's as we drive around in the car.
The best thing about all this: I learn Scripture too! 

Tomorrow, I'll tell you how I choose verses and what verses I'm using so you can get started.