How much do you emphasize Scripture memorization?

(Laura) #1

@Homeschool_Forum I’m curious to what degree other parents incorporate Scripture memorization into their children’s education (or not). Do you use a Bible curriculum that includes it, or do you rely on outside activities (Sunday school, Awana, Bible clubs, etc.) to provide/encourage memory work that is in line with what the child is already learning there? Or neither? Also, what age have you tended to start with it?

I’m wondering because I haven’t done much with my five-year-old yet, and feel like I should start next year, but I don’t want it to just be me drilling him on random verses.

(Catie) #2

Hi! (Sorry I don’t reply very much here, but this caught my eye. :slight_smile: )
For Scripture and other memorization I just pick passages I like. I suppose you could do the ones that go along with other things, but I feel like the kids can make the connections on their own.

We do 6 passages a year–2 per term. I just print them at the beginning of the year (along with their other recitations: poems, hymns, Shakespeare and folksongs) and we simply read through them (almost) every day. I switch them every 6 weeks. JUST by reading them together daily, we are able to memorize most or all of the passages WITHOUT EVEN TRYING. :slight_smile: It’s pretty great.

Are you familiar with any Morning Time (Circle Time) resources? I sometimes get my passages from Mystie Winckler, Brandy Vencel or Pam Barnhill. Ambleside Online is the curriculum we use and there are ideas there as well. Hope this helps!

-Catie, mother of 4, ages 9, 7, 4 and 1 :heart_eyes:

(Randy) #3

My parents homeschooled me as missionaries in Africa. One of the most fun ways they introduced us to memorization was to make a round of the books of the Bible at the dinner table. One of us would start with Genesis, then clockwise to the next with Exodus, and so on, through Revelation. It became a competition against ourselves to see the fastest time we could do it in. Though my own family does not homeschool currently, we still do that.

(Christy Hemphill) #4

We are using this book put out by Navigators:

I think it is basically their TMS set of verses (the cards are included in the back in four versions) but the book has devotionals/Bible studies that go with the memory verses.

(Ashley Lande) #5

I love Scripture memorization! My kids are 6 and 8. This year we memorized the Beatitudes and 2 Corinthians 4 (the whole chapter… took awhile but was so worth it!). I think it’s so valuable and have found that with consistency, my kids can memorize way more than I ever imagined they could. When i wss a new Christian six or seven years ago, I was really struck by a passage in Dallas Willard book where he stated that next to prayer, he believed Scripture memorization was the single most important spiritual discipline. And we all know that things memorized in childhood become quite embedded in us… I can recite a whole oeuvre of TV jingles :joy:


I emphasized memorization when I was homeschooling my children. I tried to find the most poetic version of Scripture – sometimes the King James version --but we read the verses in multiple translations so the understanding of the passage was clear. As a rule poetry is much easier to learn/memorize than prose.
The uniqueness of the sound helps the memory.
When I was young, I memorized countless Scriptures. My mother knew more by heart than I did.
We used to quote Psalm 121 – The Traveler’s Psalm – as a family, before anyone left on a trip. I typed it up and laminated it for my boys to take with them to camps.
They don’t always remember but one of the interesting side rewards is that the more one memorizes the easier it is to remember all school work. Repetition improves Memory and the brain begins to create mnemonics. More people know Psalm 23 – The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want… Its lyrical lines are easier to memorize than The Lord is my Shepherd and I won’t need anything.
I didn’t always enjoy memorizing as a kid, but we used the King James exclusively. However, when I got to Seminary and was asked to support my thesis, it was much easier to write my answers than those that had not had that upbringing.
Last, Rev. Ben Weir, a friend of mine, was taken hostage in Lebanon. He had no Bibles or any books while chained to a radiator. He quoted the Scriptures to himself in silence. He was grateful he had spent time memorizing things.
Hopefully, none of us finds ourselves in such terrifying circumstances, but I have found many Scriptures came to mind when I was going through challenging moments.
John 3:16 should be one of the key ones since it gives assurance of salvation.
The Lord’s Prayer, Psalm 23, and I Corinthians 13, Romans 12, the Beatitudes and basic truths of salvation, grace, love and mercy.
Both my boys have grown up and continued to participate in the local church wherever they are and my eldest son just shared that he broke up with a girlfriend because she couldn’t respect his faith in God.
I tried to avoid ‘shoulds’ and allow them to choose for themselves. The tools were there and they opted for them when they were on their own.
I believe it was truly because they hid the Word of God in their hearts.
I don’t know if this helps, and I wish you well.

(Christy Hemphill) #7

A couple years ago, we focused on what it means to life a Christian life for a while with our memory verses. We said a principle and then the verses that went with it. I think it was really good for the kids and something they can refer to when we are talking about different situations and what the Christian response should be. I’m cutting and pasting the principles and verses below, in case it’s useful to anyone. :slight_smile: (I printed them out on cards, so they aren’t listed in any particular order.)

Christians are generous and share with those who are in need.
2 Corinthians 9:7
You must each decide in your own heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

Christians work hard and aren’t lazy.
Romans 12:10
Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.
Galatians 6:4
Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.

Christians use their gifts to serve others in the church.
Romans 12:4-5
Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.

Christians are known for their love.
Romans 12:9-10
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other.

Christians don’t take revenge; they pray for those who treat them badly.
Romans 12:14
Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.
1 Peter 3:9
Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.

Christians are humble and treat other people as better then themselves.
Romans 12:16
Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
Galatians 6:3
If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.
Philippians 2:3
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

Christians show hospitality.
Romans 12:13
When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

Christians try to live at peace with everyone.
Romans 12:18
Do all that you can to live at peace with everyone.
Matthew 5:9
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Christians are faithful to their husbands and wives.
Hebrews 13:4
Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.

Christians use their words to encourage others.
Ephesians 4:29
Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

Christians meet together to pray and worship.
Hebrews 10:25
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Christians show respect to those in authority.
Romans 13:7
Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.
Hebrews 13:17
Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow.

Christians share the joy and suffering of others.
Romans 12:15
Be happy with those who are happy and weep with those who weep.

Christians speak truthfully and act with integrity.
Ephesians 4:25
So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.
1 Peter 3:16b
Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.

Christians are always ready to share the gospel.
1 Peter 3:15-16a
Worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way.

Christians honor God with their bodies and take care of them. Drunkenness, drug use, gluttony, and promiscuity are not appropriate for Christians.
Ephesians 5:18
Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:18
Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

Christians look out for those who are vulnerable.
James 1:27
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
Matthew 25:37-40
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

(Laura) #8

Thanks for all the great suggestions! I think that will give me some direction and help to not make it into a chore for us. It’s good to be reminded that it’s not too early to start, and a little bit can add up over time.

@Christy, is that the NLT version that you use (or the Message or something else? Looks pretty modern). I agree with @ChapLynne that some passages (like Psalm 23) are just better in KJV, but I had a hard time understanding the more instructional passages in KJV as a kid, so I had thought about using NIV – but maybe that’s too 80s. :wink:

(Christy Hemphill) #9

Yes, NLT. :slight_smile: I memorized everything myself in NIV back in the day, but the kids have done well with NLT. They were in AWANA for a year when we were in the States for school and memorized in the NKJV and there were a couple times when my daughter was like, “I have no idea what this means, but I memorized it.”


I always used other translations to help the kids understand what the words meant, but the poetic way the King James was written made it easier to remember because it was ‘strange’ to the patterns of speech.

Sometimes I let the kids decide which translation they wanted to memorize. It meant they had ownership in the process and they would always choose the easiest to remember.

Best wishes for your success.

(Laura) #11

Hehe… that sounds like me in Awana. I had a very good memory (and lots of free time) so I got awards and pats on the back, but especially in KJV I often had little idea what the verses meant, since so many of the words were just never used in actual speech (I’m glad our club eventually switched to NIV). That’s one reason I like the idea of using memory verses in conjunction with other study or reading, so they can hopefully see the memory work as part of a bigger picture.


Here’s a non-homeschooling outsider weighing in. I attended Christian school for three years and somehow managed to evade “Bible class” in those three years. My younger brother took the class, probably more than once, and a fair bit of memorization was involved:

  1. Rote.
  2. KJV.
  3. Including punctuation.

What it didn’t include (as far as my brother remembered) was explanation and application. So…so what?

Nothing wrong with scripture memorization, but this is what is missing many times:

  1. The big-picture context. What is the story “of the whole Bible”? This is evidenced in our Christian subculture when we give a whole Bible TV series episode and Hollywood movie to Samson, when in the big picture, he’s kind of inconsequential, and at the same time, a great many Christians are unaware of the Exile and return, which is kind of significant.
  2. We can train children to be familiar (at some levels) with scripture, but (accidentally?) forget to introduce them to Jesus personally, resulting in (in the words of a former youth pastor in my church) inoculating them against Jesus.

(Laura) #13

Yes, I think you’ve expressed some similar concerns to what I’ve had in the past with how memorization can be implemented. I’ve also seen the “word-perfect” requirement in Bible memory competitions, often justified with statements like “because every word in the Bible is important.” Which I agree with, but I think that should apply just as much to context and the big picture – since every word is important, even the ones that aren’t memorized, we shouldn’t get too lost in the details (and I speak to myself here too, as a “detail person.”)

I think your point #2 is especially important. There are so many elements to a vibrant faith, and if memorization is emphasized to the exclusion of the others (or held up as some kind of “proof” of godliness) then I can see how “inoculation” can happen, sadly.

(Randy) #14

Good point about the application. That is what some of my high church brothers and sisters, with catechism, probably get --which we don’t, in a Baptist church. Awana is helpful in some ways in that way for the “low churched,” but as someone else said, they are fairly narrow. My children do attend Awana (ages 10, 7 and 4), for example. However, we try to talk to them to avoid an excessively legalistic point of view.

My father went to catechism class in his Christian Reformed tradition, and thought it was helpful.

I learned a lot in a verse competition over a year–but am not sure I really retained anything in terms of the meaning of the KJV verses! I also became more competitive–which was an oxymoron in the Bible arena, I think. It was a good thing that my opponent was also my best friend at the time.

Thanks for your thoughts (again, disclaimer: my brother, sisters and I were homeschooled, but my wife and I are not currently homeschooled).