When my oldest children were preschool age, I incorporated Bible lessons and scripture memory into our Morning Time. At that point, we primarily read from The Jesus Storybook Bible and I dabbled in the devotions from Leading Little Ones to God. We also memorized short passages of scripture that I hand-picked. While I loved both of those resources and still use them now, I wanted something we could do as a family that would focus more on character training and Biblical application.
My husband and I decided that it was time to prioritize a time in our daily rhythm that he could lead the family in devotions and prayer. I was about to have our fourth child and I knew that fitting everything in our days with a new baby and a toddler was going to be challenging. We didn’t want this area of discipleship and biblical instruction to fall through the cracks, so we looked at our rhythm and decided to try family devotions over breakfast time on the weekdays. My husband shifted his work schedule a bit so he could be home most mornings to lead this time. We have been gathering for family devotions now each weekday morning over breakfast for about 8 months and it has been so great for our family.
After much searching, I decided on the family devotional, Our 24 Family Ways by Clay Clarkson. The devotional’s premise is that you are creating a culture in your home of how your family thinks and acts. Based on the idea that we are called to “train up a child in the way he should go”, Clarkson maps out 24 ways which you can use to teach and instruct your children. I loved this idea because I felt like it was giving clarity and verbiage to the character traits I desire to see in my children. We refer to the 24 ways given in this book all the time now, even after finishing the devotional, to redirect heart attitudes and behaviors.
The devotional’s layout is simple. It is set up to be used for 24 weeks, one week per Family Way. The 24 weeks are broken into 6 sections.
The six sections are:
- Concerning authorities in our family: these ways address love and obedience to God, parents, and other people of authority.
- Concerning relationships in our family: these ways address having a heart of love, service, encouragement, and forgiveness towards others.
- Concerning possessions in our family-: these ways address thankfulness, contentment, generosity, and stewardship of belongings.
- Concerning work in our family: these ways address diligence, taking initiative, working cooperatively, and taking personal responsibility for cleanliness.
- Concerning attitudes in our family: these ways address choosing joy, being a peacemaker, patience, and showing grace to others.
- Concerning choices in our family: these ways address making right choices in the midst of peer pressure, self-control, and truthfulness.
Each section has 4 Family Ways and each Family way includes a picture with a story starter for discussion, and 5 days of questions, scripture readings, discussion prompts, and prayer ideas. Each day is presented using the acronym ARTS.
A – Ask a Question
This section gives the leader questions to get the children chatting before reading the bible passage.
R – Read the Bible
Bible passages or stories that are applicable to each day’s topic are listed here with a short summary. My kids loved to use their own Bibles to look up these passages and take turns reading aloud to the family.
T – Talk about it
Here, questions are given that relate to the passage as well as open up discussion for life application.
S – Speak to God
In this section, prayer prompts are offered as suggestions.
In addition to that, each week has one passage of scripture intended for memorization, some commentary, and a character trait highlight. Our family devotional time is about 30 minutes. We could easily fit everything in each day, as well as take a few minutes for reviewing previous weeks’ verses that we had memorized.
Here are the reasons we loved using Our 24 Family Ways:
It was engaging for children of all ages
We used this devotional when my oldest children were 5 and 7 years old and most of the content was perfectly suited for their age, but could absolutely be used for children older as well. We did skip over some questions and adjust the wording of some things to make it easier for them to grasp, but for the most part it was a great fit.
It was easy to open and use with no preparation
Each morning my husband would open the book, glance over the topic and was able to jump in and lead without missing a beat.
It set us up for life application and practical training
The verbiage of the ways gave my husband I language to use that my children knew from devotional time as we addressed situations in our home. I found this super helpful for training and discipline and plan to continue to use these ways in our home for years.
It encouraged the children to think and discuss
Each day’s devotional is based on scripture and the prompt questions get the children thinking and talking, rather than the parent reading long passages and telling the children what to think. I loved watching my children’s cognitive and language skills develop over the time we used this devotional.
It is designed to bring your family closer to God and each other
I loved the idea that each Family Way that we taught was empowering the children to take a step nearer to God and to us as a family unit as we talked about it being something that we all collectively do in our family.
Each week I wrote the Family Way and the passage for memorization on our chalkboard that hangs behind our dining room table. I would also write each person’s initial and 4 boxes for each person to check off as we recited the scripture we were memorizing that week. On Monday’s we introduced the verse by reading and reciting it together a few times. The rest of the days we each got a chance to recite it from memory and check off a box if we were able to say it without looking.
In addition to using the devotional, I created the Scripture Sets as a tool to use during our school lessons to give the kids extra practice with the passages presented in the book for weekly scripture memory. I tried to think of short activities that my children could do each day of the week to reinforce memorization and application of the passage. I designed each passage with a standard and shortened version so that younger learners can participate too.
You can find these sets for all 24 Family Ways in my shop. Whether or not you choose to use this devotional with your family, this 24 week Scripture Set curriculum can be used to help memorize excellent selections of passages of scripture. You can purchase each set individually or save $40 when you buy them as a bundle.
Here is what I included in each Scripture Set:
- Tracing: Children trace the verses to help practice letter formation as well as reinforce the memory work as they write.
- Journaling: Children 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: Children cut out each phrase or word and then paste them in the correct order on the lines.
- Fill in the Blank: Children can practice copying, memory work, and letter formation by filling in the missing words.
- Copy Work: Children will copy the selection to using proper spacing, punctuation, and capitalization to create a "perfect copy." This activity will improve your student's penmanship, grammar, and punctuation skills.