Scripture Memory: It's Work (That's Why Kids Resist)

I have two girls, ages 4 1/2 and 3, and we are planning to homeschool K next year. We have been somewhat diligent with preschoolish stuff this year, and we have even begun learning to read by using the Ordinary Parents Guide, etc.

My question, really, though is about Bible time. I have always wanted this to be a special time, but sometimes I feel I’m being way too hard-nosed about it. I know I have that tendency. Let me say that my four year old has learned several complete Psalms and a rather lengthy passage from Colossians.

However, it comes at a price, and I don’t want the price to be too high. She seems very resistant at times to memory work. I “get” that she’s only four (’though I do have to remind myself often), and I don’t want to burn her out on it at such a young age. However, I know she has the potential to learn it fairly easily, and I want to take advantage of this time in her life when memorization is so, so easy. My three year old knows quite a bit of the passages big sister has memorized, as well. Do you have any thoughts on this, other than to tell me to “chill out”?


Memorizing Scripture, poetry, anything is hard work.  Kids resist work.  Heck, adults resist work.  The difference between the two is that adults know that memorizing Scripture is beneficial and a blessing to us, while a four-year-old can't typically see the benefit of anything past the immediate gratification of the moment.  So while an adult will memorize Scripture because we love God's Word and want to have it in our memory banks so we can recall it when we need it, most kids have absolutely no internal incentive to memorize Scripture.

You can go the route of prizes and incentives, but my husband and I have always been wary of this technique.  It's great for getting over the hump in some areas of a kids life, but it always bothered us to think of paying a kid off to memorize God's Word.  Doubtless others out there don't agree with us, and that's absolutely ok.  You'll need to decide for your family.

What has consistently worked well in our home is the memorization of Scripture through singing.  Singing is fun, joyful, easy, and helps those trickier passages stick to the brain like super glue.  I have marked every passage we come across that we know set to music with a little music note symbol in the margins of my Bible.  It's easy to flip to any page with a music note and begin singing.  How's that for easy review?

As the kids have gotten older and challenged themselves to memorize passages or books, there have been rewards; we'll celebrate and praise and reward with something tangible, but the reward isn't typically offered from the outset as a carrot on a stick, so to speak.  It's more of a , "Hey!  We're so proud of you!  Great job!"

I think you're absolutely right to not burn out your daughters, possibly causing them to loathe Scripture memory.  Turn it into something joyful, exciting, and cozy.  Let them crawl into your lap while you sing Scriptural praises together.