Sunday, April 10, 2011

Scripture Study in the Home

Teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ is the foundation of our education and I feel the most important "lesson" I can offer my little ones. It is the best foundation that a family can build on. It establishes principles of happiness in our lives.  As we talk together about how Jesus healed the sick or how Heavenly Father cares for each of his children, there is more peace in our home and a spirit of harmony. It is a joy!

Artist: Del Parson


As followers of Jesus Christ, we know scriptures are important and we know we want to share them in our families, but how does a Mom or Dad do this, exactly, with little children?  
As we have found to be true, with variety and a lot of patience!

If this is your interest to provide scripture feasts for your children, I encourage you to open your heart prayerfully for ways to share the scriptures with your children. I know inspiration that will meet  your own unique family needs will follow.

I'll share some things that have worked for us over time and with experimentation.


First of all, please don't think we do all these things everyday! We vary these ideas as needed throughout the week. We don't do any of these things rigorously but with the needs and abilities of the children in mind, as well as Mom and Dad's energy level and available time. Most days, we read and sing at a mealtime and often listen to stories at night or in the van on CD.

Repetition is helpful in learning something new. Sometimes we hear or talk about the same story a few times before moving on to the next one.

My approach in our family is very flexible and has just evolved as I have looked for ways to share what I love about the scriptures with my family. I aim for consistency but I don't worry if things don't always go as planned. When you are homeschooling, like we do, there is always another moment! I love having so many different ideas to choose from; even the most simple idea can be successful, although sometimes it just takes practice finding which one will work for a particular situation.


Tips to Invite Scripture Learning with Little Kids

  Start Young and Have Fun!
      For the 'preschool' years, many mothers like to create a 'letter of the week' type of curriculum for their child. Why not include a scripture-related or gospel-themed letter in that plan?

For example: 'A' is for angel. Include a short activity and coloring page about a story, or two, with angels in them, such as Mary and the angel Gabriel or the angel that came to Paul (Saul).  Have fun choosing the theme that feels right to you!

I like doing this because it helps gospel learning feel like a part of normal, everyday life, instead of for "Sunday only".
Home education and family-centered education is special because it creates an opportunity to make scripture learning a main focus for the family!


  Variety and Pattern
    Because we are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I choose to rotate through the four standard works of scripture each year for our family's focus. Last year the Old Testament was our focus and this year is the New Testament. Next year's focus might be the Doctrine and Covenants and after that, perhaps the Book of Mormon.




    








   Visual
       Consider:
  • displaying pictures of stories. I like to hang a picture in a page protector on the front of the fridge.  When the children can tell me back some of the main points from the story, I replace the picture back in the file folder and we read the next one later. One morning at breakfast I handed the picture of the preceeding day to my oldest son and asked him to tell the story to his younger brothers. He proceeded to do so and also asked them questions to guage their understanding and to include them. I was surprised by how much he had learned and also what he was picking up from how the stories were presented to him. Ah, the gift that keeps on giving! (Mental note:  I definitely need to do that more and give turns to each child!)
  • reading picture storybooks
  • having children draw their own picture interpretation of the story while a parent reads
  • as child is able, he or she can look and sound out/read a few words or phrases at a time with a parent's help.
The boys' interpretation of Luke 5:1-11

Auditory
    Mom or Dad can invite a child to repeat passages phrase by phrase. I remember my own parents doing this in our home when I was growing up. This is something my children really like; they feel so grown up to be saying the scriptures aloud! It helps them feel included and like one of the "big people" even if reading is a challenge to them. It is also a good opportunity for mom or dad to encourage the older children to sound some words out.

  Music is a big help for our family. Our family has listened to the Scripture Scouts since my oldest was a toddler and it has been a very fun way to have time with the word of God. They are something parents like to listen to as well. (Important, right?) We listen, most often, in the van as we drive and I can't tell you how many times putting it on has quelled backseat squabbles. They have CDs of albums of different books of scripture. The Old and New Testament are great! It is a combination of catchy tunes and children talking about the stories in their "club house". My kids love it.


  We also sing a song from Children's Songs often before I read a story to them, which is a great way addition to family devotionals, especially if you or your kids like singing (we do).

    Act it out!
         This is one my boys really have fun with. One time, I retold the story of the battle of Jericho from the Old Testament and the boys and Dad acted it out as I told it. We used a chair for the walls of the city and they walked around the 'walls' 6 times  very quietly, just like the men of Israel in the story, (which is very fun to see three normally boisterous boys do!), and on the 7th time around, blow their trumpets loudly (cupped hands) and then we pushed the 'wall' over! Loud sounds and pushing furniture over? Scripture study doesn't get much more exciting than that!
         That's just one example. I know families who tell the Nativity story on Christmas Eve and each member of the family acts out  a part. There are lots of way to enjoy this way of interacting with the scripture stories. Find the ways that work for you.

A fun picture book; the comic-style illustrations really appeal to the boys.

    Read at Mealtimes
        I read to the children at breakfast time usually and sometimes at lunch time. It helps me to remember to read at certain times and the kids are already sitting still, paying attention!
(It helps if the story is short so Mom can get a bite in, too!)

This is our Sunday read-aloud. I love the simple illustrations and the kids enjoy the stories with sheep and shepherds.




    Read at Bedtime/Naptime
        I still have really sweet memories of my Mom or Dad coming into my bedroom sometimes when I was little and reading a scripture story and having a prayer with me. I really have a vivid emotional memory of a love for Jesus Christ starting because of those moments. That's a tradition and sweet memory I want to pass on to my own kids. Many times I read from the illustrated Scripture stories as there are good pictures and the stories are concise and easy to understand. The actual scriptures are good, too! If my kiddos are still awake, I turn down the lights and put on the LDS Radio Channel with Scripture Stories on my laptop and we listen while they get sleepy.

Favorite nighttime books

    Memorization
        I have this idea on hold to try soon. I learned about it from a talk entitled "Discipleship is..." on Simply Charlotte Mason. The concept is a "scripture box", which is an index card box with scriptures written on individual index cards. The family pulls a card out at mealtime and recites the scripture together. When everyone has learned it by heart, you move on the the next card. You can choose to create themes of scripture verses however you like. I love this idea!

     Relax and Enjoy!
         I have learned a lot right alongside the kids, both the stories we read  and how to have scripture time together. If they are not ready to sit for a story, I know another time will come soon where they will be ready or at least they can listen to a CD later than day. Key: When my expectations for the children's experience are relaxed, we are enjoying it more and are more likely to keep at it.

     Finally, A Note about Resources
         I did not start out with all these resources! It took time and creative budget strategies to invest in some of these things, so don't be disheartened if you cannot afford items you would like all at the same time. Take your time. The benefit about buying with a budget in mind is that you avoid buying resources that you realize later don't work for you; you can focus on quality and not quantity.

Of course, all you really need is a set of scriptures and a love for sharing them with your family, and taking the time regularly together to do so, in order to feel the spirit of the word of God and learn His truths. Everything else is extra, quite honestly. However, the reason I want to share this post with you is because there have been a handful of resources that has enhanced our family's experience with the scriptures. We appreciate a varied approach and enjoy this kind of experience and interaction with God's word.

    I know that as I share these stories and affirm to my children the truth of the accounts in my own words, they will feel the peaceful spirit and grow, as the scriptures say, in light and truth, which will be a foundation for their own growing testimonies of faith in Jesus Christ.


    If you like this post, you might like to read how other mothers teach their children from the word of God.
      Connie @ Smockity Frocks teaches Bible memorization
      Connie @ Smockity Frocks explains S.O.A.P. method of Bible Study with Children 
      The 4 Moms Teach Bible 
      Barb @ HarmonyArtMom shares her Homeschool Bible Education Plans


      Is there a resource you love that I have missed? Do share it with a comment here!

      5 comments:

      1. Eve,
        Oh, yes - this is and should be a high point of every day, I think. This Holy Week offers just such a banquet for our children. Thanks for reiterating the importance of this in our schools!

        Sursum Corda,
        Nancy

        ReplyDelete
      2. Hi Eve,

        Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment recently.
        I look forward to reading some of your posts here too! You have a lovely blog here!

        regards
        Rosemary

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      3. Hi, Nancy! Hi, Rosemary! I hope your Easter Sundays are very nice. Thanks for stopping by.

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      4. I love reading the scriptures with my boys. It is the best part of our homeschool day and we learn so much together. Best curriculum there is.

        ReplyDelete
      5. Kelly, thanks for the comment. It's great knowing there are other families who also enjoy scripture study (especially with active boys!)

        ReplyDelete

      Thanks for your comment today! I love reading your thoughts, too. :-)