Bible memory doesn't have to be boring -- here are 3 fun ways to give your kids a strong foundation.
When I was growing up, my parents were diligent about teaching us to memorize Scripture. Memorization was easy for me and my mom always made it fun, so even as an adult I still have a significant amount of Scripture left in my memory. I always intended to do the same with my kids. I know how crucial memorization is for building neural pathways (which help develop and sharpen cognitive function), but I’m also deeply aware of how my knowledge of the Bible has enriched my life and given me strength to face hard things.
All parents know, though, that even the best of intentions get you nowhere without action. I realized how far behind I was in this area two weeks ago, when my 6-year-old son Lincoln went to vacation bible school and came home every day reciting a new Scripture verse.
I was gobsmacked. This particular child has, to my knowledge, never memorized anything before, yet here he was memorizing Bible verses each day, retaining them, and loving it. He would recite the verse to me multiple times on the way home, during dinner, before bed, and at every available opportunity in between.
He was so excited about his new ability that I decided to use the momentum to get all the kids involved. In yet another surprise twist, my son Lincoln — who I would’ve expected to be the most resistant — was eager to memorize verses just for the sheer accomplishment of it. It was my 8 and 10-year-olds who had zero interest, despite how much they had excelled at memorization this past school year … until I found the right motivation: S’mores.
My kids will do just about anything for s’mores. But daily s’mores isn’t exactly a nutritionally sound choice, so I had to get creative. I quickly realized that the motivator itself didn’t actually matter much … they were eager to earn anything. Bike rides to the gas station. First choice on a game for family game night. They even leapt at the opportunity to memorize a verse for the privilege of testing one of my workouts.
Getting kids excited about Scripture memory isn’t about the motivation so much as the presentation. As long as they’re getting the chance to “earn” something, kids are all for it … even if that something isn’t very extraordinary at all.
The execution wasn’t so easy to figure out. Sometimes even with the right motivation, kids struggle with memorization. This is especially true for younger kids who haven’t learned to read yet. But there are several simple ways to help your kids memorize Bible verses — no matter how old they are.
1Set it to music
Everyone knows the power of music. Just think about the theme song to your kids’ favorite cartoon that you find yourself inadvertently humming while doing dishes. Bet you know the words as well as your kids do, right? Use that power. Take that song and find a verse to fit it. The kids will pick it up faster than you might believe … the only downside here is that you’ll have to keep listening to that tune. #worth it
This one works great with kids who can already read. Write a verse on a chalkboard, have your child read it out loud, then erase one word and have them read it again, filling in the missing word. Continue this process until the entire verse is erased and your kid can repeat it perfectly. Then write the verse down again and repeat the process, this time erasing words in a different order. A few rounds of this game will lock any verse into your child’s mind — and you’ll both have fun in the process.
3Act it out
Encouraging kids to act out a Bible verse is a way of connecting the words with emotions, which helps kids understand the words in a different way. They feel the meaning behind them, rather than just understanding the words themselves. Not only does this form all kinds of new neural pathways, it also helps kids develop emotional intelligence.
This technique is best employed with the more dramatic parts of scripture — Judges rather than the Epistles, for example. (Fair warning: stay away from the Song of Songs.)
There are tons of other ways to help your kids memorize Bible verses — this is just the tip of the iceberg. Use these methods as a starting point, but be open to letting your kids create new games with memorization.
Ultimately, encouraging your kids to memorize Scripture is about a lot more than just cognitive training. It’s also a kind of spiritual training. It will help imprint the God’s word on your children’s heart at an early age, and as they face the challenges of life they will always have a deep well of Truth to draw from.