November 18th, 2009 by Kristi Stephens
As I discussed in Radical Discipleship, Scripture memory and comprehension is something I am convinced must be the center of the training of our children. We cannot content ourselves with teaching our kids about God and His Word – they need to know God and know His Word for themselves.
In the summer I shared the Scripture memory system we started to use. I love this idea, but we don’t sit around the table and use it at this point. With a 3 year old and 1 year old, quiet time at the table with focused attention just doesn’t really work!!
Another part of this equation is that I am a big believer in learning and teaching chunks of Scripture rather than focusing exclusively on short verses with small kids. This summer AG learned all of Psalm 23 and could rattle it off by herself. For the past week as we’ve been discussing Thanksgiving, AG and I have been learning Psalm 100 – she already has it most of the way memorized and only needs prompting for the words at the beginning of the sentences. She most definitely can handle learning long passages like this, but she cannot handle sitting perfectly still and quiet to learn these and recite them!
God gave us the solution to this problem in Deuteronomy 6:6-9-
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Teaching God’s Word to our kids is one of our main jobs as Christian parents. To do it effectively:
• You need to know it yourself – “these commandments are to be on your hearts”. Study it, meditate on it, memorize it yourself. Are you a newer believer or just never learned much Scripture? This is a great time to start – nothing ingrains Scripture into us quite like intentionally teaching it to someone else. When I am pursuing God and studying His Word daily, teaching my kids is a natural outflow of that.
• Think seriously about how to “impress it on your children”. How can you make it memorable? Make learning Scripture into a game, make it into a song [doesn't need to be fancy!], use sign language, incorporate it into your craft time – do anything and everything you can to help it stick. If this isn’t really your area of strength, I highly recommend you check out Leigh and Amanda’s ideas over at Impress Your Kids – they do a great job with creative Scripture teaching ideas!
• Talk about and review your verse(s) all the time – when you sit at home, when you walk [or drive!] along the road, as they lie down at bedtime, when you get up in the morning or over breakfast. I have found that 3 year old AG (who is rather stubborn, by the way) will sometimes resist having a defined “Bible time”- she will clam up and not want to work on her verses or listen. But if I sneak it into our everyday life and conversation, she is very receptive to listening. For the most part, I don’t require her to sit still and listen – she often will be spinning around, playing dress up, playing with toys, etc. while we’re reviewing verses.
• Write them on your house! :) If your kids are learning to read or know how to read, surround them with their written verse. Yesterday we wrote Psalm 100 out on leaves I cut out with an Ellison cutter and artwaxed, and then we stuck them up on our dining room wall! It was a great review – I had AG help me remember the words to our verse as we wrote it, and then had her hand them to me and review it as we stuck it on the wall. She is so proud of it and loves to read it together.
If you’re stuck on what verses to teach your kids, here are some suggestions:
• I definitely recommend that you teach your kids all of the classic “salvation verses” – John 3:16, Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Acts 16:31, etc. If you haven’t done much Scripture memory together, start there!
• If you are dealing with specific behavior issues, incorporate the Word of God into your correction process and review it frequently. For instance, if you’re dealing with complaining and arguing, work on Philippians 2:14. Sibling squabbles? Work on Ephesians 4:32. Does your child have a tendency to brag or try to “one up” other kids or adults? I’d recommend Proverbs 27:2. You get the point! Once again, if you are learning God’s Word for yourself, you will know what Scripture addresses the situation – teach it to your kids! If you aren’t familiar with Scripture yourself, acquaint yourself with a good online keyword search like this one – just please be sure to look up the verse in context and make sure you are using and teaching it correctly!!
• If you’re working on a verse that makes more sense in context (most do), don’t limit yourself to that one verse! Consider expanding it and learning a whole chapter or longer section together – your kids can do it, and it’s good for you, too! :) You will be giving your kids the gift of seeing scripture within its larger context, and that is a valuable treasure, indeed.
• Alright now… go get memorizing!!
If you have more tips that have worked for your family, please share!