Practicing the skill of memory work is great for children (and adults). Memorizing things like poetry, hymns, and scripture helps train the brain to be receptive to remembering things, boosts confidence, and gives the memorizer a gift they can keep within their hearts far past the time of doing the hard work of memorizing. I have found that my children are much more quick to memorize than my husband or me; they are always amazing us with the amount they can memorize in a short period of time!
We started scripture memory work when my children were around 3 years old. I would choose short passages of scripture, pair them with some made-up hand motions or a little tune and repeat it every day until they were saying it with confidence. Now, at ages 5 and 7, they love memorizing scripture and have many, many passages hidden in their hearts. It’s one of the best gifts I feel can give them!
Here are 7 tips I have found that are helpful in teaching scripture memory:
1. Choose passages that mean something to you and your child.
We currently choose our passages to memorize from the family devotional that we are using. Each week, we work on one passage of scripture, and each morning we discuss different elements of what the passage means and how we apply it to our lives. In the past, though, I just chose verses that spoke to me or that addressed a certain heart attitude or area of interest for my child. Talk about the scripture in applicable situations that come up throughout the day and make it real to their lives. Make sure they understand the concepts in the scripture that they are memorizing.
2. Choose passages that are age-appropriate.
For younger children, try using the NIrV (New International Reader’s Version) and choose scriptures that are 1-2 sentences. If you have multiple ages of children who are memorizing together, you could easily choose one passage and offer a shortened version to the younger ones. In the Scripture Sets I have created, I offer both a full and shortened version for this reason.
3. Designate a certain time of day to work on scripture memory.
I recommend doing this at least 5 days a week. It only takes a few minutes and the consistency is really the key to long-term memory. For our family, we do this in the morning over breakfast Mondays through Fridays.
4. Sing the scripture.
Make up a catchy tune to go with the scripture you are learning or have your child do it. If you aren’t sure where to start, try memorizing verses that are already put to songs from artists like Steve Green or Seeds Family Worship.
5. Put hand motions to the scripture.
This doesn’t have to be super planned out or creative, just ask your child to help create motions for the main words in the passage when you first introduce it. If they help create the motions, they are more likely to recall it.
6. Use a review system and be consistent.
Honestly, without constantly reviewing the verses I have found that all the effort put into memorizing in the first place is wasted. I found an incredible, easy review system about 6 months ago through Simply Charlotte Mason and it has worked so well for us. All you need is an index card holder, dividers, index cards, and a few minutes a day. Here is a link to the YouTube video explaining how it’s done.
Include the passages in their schoolwork.
I created the Scripture Sets so we can have tools that we can use during our school time to give the kids extra practice with the passages. I tried to think of short activities that children could do each day of the week to reinforce memorization and application of the passage. Here is what is included in each Scripture Set:
- Tracing: Your students can trace the verses to help practice letter formation as well as reinforce the memory work as they write.
- Journaling: On this page, your student will apply the scripture and practice creative writing by finishing the sentence. They can then illustrate their journal entry in the blank space provided.
- Cut and Paste: Your student can cut out each phrase or word and then paste them in the correct order on the lines below. If you are using the shortened version of the verse, you can simply remove some of the words before they paste them.
- Fill in the Blank: Your student can practice copying, memory work, and letter formation by filling in the missing words on this sheet.
- Cutting and Gross Motor Skills: After your student cuts out the words or phrases on these sheets, you can use them in various ways to encourage gross motor skills. A few ideas are:
- Hide the words for your student to find and put in the correct order
- Scatter the words on the floor, and have your student to hop to each word/phrase in the correct order
- Create a relay race where the student grabs the words/phrases throughout the course and puts them in the correct order