I recently read Fahreneit 451, the iconic science-fiction novel about a day in the future when all books burn to pay penance for their offensiveness. The outcasts who had memorized the books of the Bible were the only ones on earth who had access to the text and who kept it alive for future generations. This set my wheels turning and rekindled my sense of urgency surrounding the art of scripture memorization.
This art of memorizing scripture is a gift that we can give our children. It can become a habit that follows them throughout their lives. I've learned some Charlotte Mason approaches over the years, and I'm happy to share them with you today.
Charlotte Mason's Gentle Approach
I recently reread what Charlotte Mason had to say about memorizing worthy words, recitation, in Home Education. She said that the words should be read to the child as they play or prepare for the day. Just by gently rereading it a half-dozen times or so, the child will soon remember it.
In the following passage, Charlotte Mason explained this method which a woman presented to her as being effective for her niece:
She read a poem through to E.; then the next day, while the little girl was making a doll's frock, perhaps, she read it again; once again the next day, while E.'s hair was being brushed. She got in about six or more readings, according to the length of the poem, at odd and unexpected times, and in the end E. could say the poem which she had not learned. I have tried the plan often since, and found it effectual. The child must not try to recollect or to say the verse over to himself, but, as far as may be, present an open mind to receive an impression of interest." Home Education, page 225
The first Bible verse that H ever memorized was Psalm 118:24: This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it! When I greeted her at her bed in the morning, I said the verse. When we had a happy moment playing together, I repeated it. Soon she started saying it with me. I gently prompted her to recite it by saying, “This is…” and she completed the verse herself, with a joyful smile on her face.
We moved onto another verse, and she seemed to understand right away that the end-goal was to memorize it, even though I hadn’t stressed that fact. It’s Ephesians 4:32: Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. We discussed the word “compassionate,” and when she heard that same word on the radio station that we listen to, she was so excited!
For a while, she repeated these verses everywhere she went. I told her how special it is to put these words in her heart and she told me, “I didn’t put them there. Jesus did.”
Practiced Memory Work
Now that H is older, our methods are a bit different. In the morning, I read a section of the Bible verse from that month's Idea Nest and have her repeat it after me. We do this for a few days until she has the verse memorized.
One amazing method that I learned at Ambleside Schools is to put the first letter of each word on the chalkboard as we learn it. This allows children to learn longer passages without getting frustrated or forgetting it.
Making it a Habit
As an adult, I don't have anyone sitting down with me helping me memorize scripture. So, this is a habit that I have to create for myself, I also want to help my children develop that habit as well. What I've found to be helpful is to have easy access to notecards so that I can grab a card and write a verse on it whenever something strikes my heart. I keep the cards handy so I can read them whenever I see them. They are bookmarks in my books, sitting in my purse, and sometimes on the seat of my car.
The Idea Nest is a early years/morning time resource that is free from My Little Robins. You can get free Idea Nest scripture cards that display each month's memory verse through the sign up form below.