Should Young Children Memorize Scripture?


Thoughts from Scott Turansky...

I think the very first Bible verse I memorized was 2 Corinthians 9:16, "Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift." I was two years old. I remember my father encouraging me to say "unspeakable" with emphasis. I imagine that must have been fun to watch a little child quote a Bible verse.

Actually, my parents helped me memorize hundreds of Bible verses through my childhood. Many of those verses just went into my head. But once there, they had an opportunity, like seeds, to grow in their meaning. "Unspeakable" comes from the King James Version. Later in life, I moved to the New International Version which uses the word "indescribable." I like that word even better.

Over the years my understanding of that verse has grown. Some would suggest that you shouldn't have young children memorize verses they don't understand, but those people don't recognize the power of the mind to remember. The words bounced around in my mind for years and at various points in time new understanding of that gift made it's way down to my heart.

In fact, I would suggest that I'm still learning about that indescribable gift today. Salvation is a treasure and provides me with forgiveness and the ability to forgive. It gives me a peace inside and the power to address sin in my life.

I'm grateful for the care of my parents who took time to teach me scripture at a young age. It's a gift that has ramifications for my heart even today.

Do you have some kind of plan for scripture memory in your home? It would be encouraging to others if you'd share practical ideas.
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17 comments:

  1. "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." I've been impressed recently with the importance of early childhood development. Much of who we are is shaped in our first 3-5 years. We may not be able to recall much of what we learned during those formative years, but our minds were learning. If our minds soak on God's Word during that time, it can only have a positive impact on us even if it's in the subconscious. Great post Scott.

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  2. Absolutely, yes! I doubt it would occur to my adult children to try to memorize Scripture now, but what was hidden in their hearts so long ago is still there - if dormant - waiting to come alive in their hearts again. The teens in my life have almost no knowledge of Scripture, and certainly have not memorized any of it. Perhaps there is less emphasis on Scripture memory in some quarters because of the proliferation of translations and the systematic -ahem- dumbing down of the population over the last fifty years. When my kids were memorizing Scripture, the NIV was a relatively new translation. Now even the NIV seems stilted and difficult for these kids to understand - never mind the King James. As for me, I can barely recognize some famous verses in the newer translations.

    I have just learned you can still find what we used for Scripture memory - there were five or six episodes of the adventures of "GT and the Halo Express", each with 10-12 songs relating to the adventure on the tape. If you learned the song, you learned the verse. These tapes used what is now called NIV84. We also listened to the Integrity Scripture Memory Songs CDs, which used a variety of translations like NASB, NKJV and NIV84.

    You can still find GT on CDs at http://www.gthalo.com/ and you can find the Integrity CDs on Amazon. Even now, when I read my Bible or see these verses up on the screens at church, I think of these songs more than twenty years later. Teach your kids, and learn them yourself!

    Merry Christmas, Scott and Carrie, Joanne and Ed! Great post.

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    1. Sue, thanks for posting. I do remember the GT and the Halo Express episodes. They were fun and good tools for scripture memory with children. I agree with you that children grow up with those verses often receive lasting impact from them.

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  3. Thanks Sue! We appreciate such thoughful posts. Thanks so much for taking the time to tell your story. Come back and visit us often. We'll be posting new material here almost every day in the weeks to come.

    I recently read a book by Graham Scharf called The Apprenticeship of Being Human. It's about the importance of early childhood development. Graham highlights many factors important in the formation of a young child's brain. One of these is power of the story. Graham says it this way.

    In this way, children’s lives are “scripted.” Their families and communities provide the script of the Story into which they are initiated. That Story, in turn, guides the pursuit and development of character.

    Graham Scharf (2012-04-13 01:20:47-04:00). The Apprenticeship of Being Human (Kindle Locations 462-464). Newbiginian Press. Kindle Edition.

    Scripture memory is one way that we merge our family story into the gospel story.

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  4. I too believe scripture memory is important for young children. I remember memorizing verses when I was a young child. My children learned memory verses also ... until their father left and we divorced. For several years it was hard for them to memorize anything. Their grades fell and spelling was particularly hard for both kids. I believe their minds were so full of trauma with their father leaving and the divorce that memorizing anything was hard. Now that I look back I detest that I didn't know what was going on at that time.

    In the program DC4K (DivorceCare for Kids) we don't include scripture memory but we sure push the scriptures. We use games, stories, songs all to scripture. I now know after much research that a child can learn anything by singing it so in DC4K we sing a lot of scripture and the kids are memorizing it. More than that they are applying the biblical principals to their own lives.

    Children of divorce in particular need the scriptures in their lives. Sometimes it is the only thing that makes any sense in the crazy and confusing world they live in.

    So while I won't push scripture memory in children of divorce in the usual manner one thinks of memorizing, I sure will sing a lot of scripture to them. Stand back and watch them memorize in a non traditional fashion!

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    1. Linda, thank you for your thoughtful comments. I always appreciate the reminders from you about addressing parenting issues from a single parent perspective. I'm honored that you would visit and comment on our blog. Thank you.

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  6. I want to encourage everyone to do this!! It's awesome! My four kids get a scripture card each week that pertains to something they are struggling with or need encouragement on. I like to ask them for a topic, too, and that keeps the verses relevant. For the younger ones, I pick ones based on what I see them going through.

    The cool part is that as their teacher, you end up memorizing the verses too! Especially when you are using them all week to teach, train and encourage your kids. We put them in the middle of our dinner table in a napkin holder, and simply recite them at lunch or dinner or both. So, the memorization happens without a lot of work at all! And I end up learning five verses each week (a feat I could never discipline myself to do)!

    And don't be fooled by the little kids! My 3yo boy just learned all of Micah 6:8 set to a tune. Just remember how many theme songs they learn from movies and TV shows - they can memorize long passages without trying very hard. We also use hand motions if they get stuck on a word or two.

    And they are so proud...we cheer and clap when someone gets their verse right for the first time that week. And some weeks I give them a dollar for their verses. I'd rather pay them for that than for chores. Which has more long term value?

    Honestly, my prayer is that they carry the habit on into adulthood since the Word of God is the best weapon against the fiery arrows of the enemy. It was the way Jesus fended off the Devil's lies. I love teaching them this strategy as a way of life now so that they can rely on it later. Parents, you can do this!! It's awesome and they will love it!!

    Thanks for the post Turansky's! Great encouragement!

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    1. Wow. What a great illustration of a family that is engaging spiritually. Thank you for sharing. Keep up the good work and come back often to tell us more about how its going.

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  7. Young children's brains are wired to memorize. They are like sponges that can soak in and remember so many things. This is evident from the songs, rhymes, and, sadly, commercials and movies they can recite from memory. Why not fill their minds and use this ability to memorize scripture? Our now 3 year old knows Psalm 23 and Psalm 1. We didn't even work on them with her. She just learned it from hearing her older brothers and sisters reciting it. We use a scripture memory system from www.simplycharlottemason.com It works great and has enabled our family to learn many, many scriptures and to keep them in our brains. Here's the link: http://simplycharlottemason.com/timesavers/memorysys/ Enjoy!

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    1. Thank you for sharing and for the link. I hope others will find that helpful. A man told me when I was a child that memorizing scripture would help me do better in school. I think he's probably right. Brain exercises. Interesting thought.

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  8. Wonderful insights, Dr. Turansky! Thank you! I taught my children to memorize Scripture verses by inventing little songs sung to the verses. To this day, over 30 years later, they still remember those songs and the Scripture verses!

    You spoke of seeds. Yes, the Word of God planted early in the spirit will give Holy Spirit something to bring to our remembrance when we most need it.


    Blessings,

    Dr. MaryAnn Diorio
    Author & Life Coach

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    1. Thank you. I definitely agree. I remember scripture that I memorized years ago. I may not remember it exactly, but I know there's a verse somewhere that says something about that and then I can go find it. I like that.

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  9. As someone whose mother spent countless hours teaching us to memorize Scripture, I am so grateful. I have so many verses in my head that the Holy Spirit reminds me of whenever I need them. My summers with Teen Missions Int'l included learning 40 verses over the summer. I have been doing scripture memory with my kids for a while now. I found the ABC Bible verses book to be great as well as Seeds Family Worship (scripture set to music). We spent Dec. memorizing Luke 2:1-14. We were aiming for 1-20 but life happened. Still, my 2, 3, and 5 year old can say 1-14 really well. We make up motions to go with verses. My mom told me that she wished she had spent even more time than she did having us memorize scripture. I have also had great success with hand motions helping my 2-3 year old Sunday school class memorize. I don't think kids are ever too young to start. Thanks for this post.

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  10. That's really great. Thank you for sharing. I'm sure that will be an encouragement to others.

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  11. Scott,

    We didn't raise our children to memorize verses, per se, because we had a child who struggled with speaking and information processing. What we noticed, however, was that as we shared the Bible and God's teachings with our children, they naturally found verses that were encouraging and/or meaningful. As they grew and read on their own, they all had favorite verses that they decided to memorize. They seemed to find great comfort and confidence in knowing the Word of God and repeating it/referring to it as necessary throughout their day. Now, my home is filled with crosses, notes, plaques, and bathroom mirrors covered in favorite verses to help us all "hear" God's voice when we get too busy. I love how God uses children to teach us how to teach them! This blessing came completely from the Holy Spirit through my children...an unexpected and joyful gift we now cherish, and are integrating into our everyday life. (i.e. We bought some window markers to write reminders on the bathroom mirror; the kids have used them in most unexpected ways! It's fun to walk in throughout the day to discover various verses and comments!)

    Mary

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    1. Mary, thank you for the good reminder that it's not the memorization that benefits us as much as the integration into life.

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