Teaching young children memory verses is very rewarding for both us and them!
I firmly believe that it is never too early for a child to benefit from God’s Word. From the time they are babies, we can read to our children. Little ones just learning to speak will pick up words that they hear spoken often or emphatically. We often notice the word they picked up from someone’s unguarded angry moment–but they will also pick up joyful exclamations.
One of my 3-year-old’s (and my) favorites is “Praise the Lord!” In Sabbath School, when the older children are repeating their memory verses, we have often encouraged the tiny children to say “Jesus”. Beautiful name.
But as soon as the children are starting to string words together in sentences, we may start more directly teaching the children memory verses. This is an important part of introducing the children to the Bible and the loving God it represents.
7 tips for teaching young children memory verses
Here are 7 tips that I have found helpful for teaching young children memory verses, whether it is my own children or those at VBS or Sabbath School. Come to think of it, most of these tips work great for older children and adults, as well!
- Use music.
- Be repetitious.
- Start out small.
- Keep it positive.
- Focus on God.
- Help the children understand.
Simple songs really make things stick. Even Moses set the requirements of God to music for the Israelites to sing as they journeyed. And how many times have you heard a two- or three-year-old perfectly repeating some annoying jingle from a TV or radio commercial?
They can do it. We simply need to be intentional about keeping the right “food” available for their young minds.
(Of course, Hasten Home’s VBS curricula includes memory verse songs, as well!)
Tell or sing the children memory verses over and over–and over again. Read it from the Bible, sing it while you work, talk about it while you play. Drill it. Over and over and over.
Even young children–or we might even say, especially young children–are very capable of learning longer memory verses. By starting out small, though, they have relatively quick success. Success leads to courage to try more. (Not to mention, short memory verses are easier for us to start teaching, too.)
Additionally, teaching very young children shorter memory verses generally means teaching them easy-to-understand memory verses. We will get more into that later.
There is not much worse we can do for our children’s learning process than to get grumpy or forceful about it. Do your best to always associate joy with the children’s memory verses.
Similarly, always keep the real purpose in view. Christine Kabush, a Christian home schooling mom, suggested Luke 10:27 as a great verse to start with. She says, “We try to do memorization by an order that builds [the children’s] relationship with God. This has always seemed the best place for us.”
First, it helps to choose memory verses that will not be too terribly difficult for the children to understand. (I’ll be sharing some of those on the Hasten Home blog very shortly.) But then…
Ask questions. Reword things. Mention the children’s memory verses when they fit in their days (hmmm… that’s back to Number 2…). Here are a few examples:
- Joey shows you the scab forming on his knee. You say, “Praise the Lord! Your owie is healing up so nicely. ‘I will praise thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made!’ God made us so wonderfully, didn’t He!”
- While memorizing Matthew 28:20 “Lo, I am with you alway,” ask “Who is ‘I’? Who is ‘you’?” Of course, the child’s answers would be “God” or “Jesus”, and “me!”
- Continuing the above example of Matthew 28:20, you could then reword the memory verse: “Yes, Jesus is always with you!”
The secret of power in the children’s memory verses is the same as the secret of power in any Christian’s life: the Holy Spirit. Pray that God will fill the children’s hearts with His Spirit. Pray that He will empower His Word to work mightily. He delights to answer our prayers for the children!
~YOUR TURN: What would you add? Have you used some of these tips with success? Tell us about it in the comments below!~