Tucking Them in With Truth: Scripture Memory with Little Ones

My desire is that my children would come to love and uphold the truth of Scripture in their precious hearts from their infancy. My prayer is that we might plant seeds of the gospel in their tender souls so they would desire to walk closely with Christ. I want to be able to memorize Scripture together with my children – combining storing truth in my heart and in their hearts at the same time. But how can this be done in a doable simple manner?

I was recently reading, Shaping of A Christian Family, by Elisabeth Elliot, and was inspired by her mother’s writing in the introduction with this simple challenge:

“I found that simply repeating Psalms 23 each night to Jim after he was tucked in bed was a painless way of implanting this beautiful song of David in his heart and mind. Winthin a week he was beginning to say it with me, and it was part of the going-to-bed ritual. As he mastered Psalms 23, we added other Scripture.

In teaching young children, it is well to remember the words in Isaiah 28:10, ‘For precept must be upon precept, line upon line, here a little and there a little.‘ It is thus our patient God has dealt with us; and so we must deal with our little ones, repeating often the Word of God so that it will be hidden in their hearts so they will ‘not sin against God’.”

Scripture memory doesn’t have to be complex and overwhelming. It simply requires repetition. I think the key here for me was the idea of simply adding it to one of our other regular routines – bedtime! We already have a regular bedtime routine established which helps settle the little ones down for the night in a peaceful manner. Why not follow the challenge to just read an adopted portion of Scripture for memory work during this time?

In this past month, we started our bedtime routine with reading a passage of Scripture, followed by a bedtime story, before tucking them in with a goodnight prayer. We began with Psalms 23 as Elliot’s mother had suggested. We read it multiple times a week for a two week period. It took maybe 5 minutes of time. We all just listened as I read it twice. In just two weeks, I was blown away at how both my 5 and 3 year old had memorized it completely.

I knew my 5 year old could do it as we have memorized a fair amount before…but hadn’t tested my 3 year old son. I finally randomly asked him if he wanted to share it. With great speed and fluency (even more solidly presented than his older sister), my little guy recited all six verses in rapid time. It was such an encouragement to my soul. These precious souls are listening. Their hearts and minds are ready to be filled with truth and they can memorize more than we can imagine. Since completing Psalms 23, we have memorized The Lord’s Prayer as well as Psalms 1 through this simple habit of reading a chosen portion of Scripture before bed.

Titus would like to share with you Psalms 23…May you be blessed today and encouraged that it is possible to ┬áhide God’s Word in your hearts as a family and in this way prepare your hearts to continue following hard after Him. I share this as an encouragement to all of us that God will reward your faithfulness!

If you can’t view the video, click here.

{Photo Credit}

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of three, homemaker, and writer. She is the editor of Passionate Homemaking since its beginning five years ago. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

24 Responses to Tucking Them in With Truth: Scripture Memory with Little Ones

  1. Robin Russell July 10, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    Hi Lindsay, I was so excited to read your post. The reason I was so excited is because I have just begun the same book written by Elizabeth Elliot and we recently read Psalm 23 as well. My 2 1/2 year old twins were struggling to pay attention and so I added hand motions to it. Well, it turned out, that my 5 year old picked the verse up quicker because I put hand motions with it. After 2 1/2 weeks we have finally moved on to another verse, but before we read the next verse, we say Psalm 23 first so as to keep it in our minds. Hand motions are a HUGE help! But I was also excited that there was another mama out there who is doing the samething I am AND it’s working for your kiddos too. I had to share my excitement and amazement at how quickly my kiddos are picking up the verses. After all, all I am doing is reading the verses once a day at bedtime. Amazing and awesome! Thanks again for your blog, God uses you mightly to encourage and cheer other mama’s who need to hear their are other godly mama’s doing the samethings.

  2. jackie priest July 8, 2012 at 4:53 am #

    girl this is so presh. what a doll yes it was a little hard to hear is exact words but thats the sweetest part! its so hard not to cry hearing his voice saying the word ahhh so so sweet. just sayin.

  3. Lisa July 7, 2012 at 4:58 am #

    Once again, another worthy idea to help me in my homemaking/child training. We also follow the classical model, and I’m trying to cram as much into my little ones’ heads as possible in this “sponge” stage. But we spend a LOT of time in the mornings with the Shorter Catechism and hymn, and at bedtime memorizing another hymn. Although I want them to memorize Scripture, I was having a hard time working it in with all the other stuff. This is a fantastic idea. My little ones are 5, 3.5, 2 (and newborn). My older two have memorized the first 15 questions/answers of the Catechism, as well as a couple hymns, and I’ve been surprised that my 2 year old can also say snatches of the Catechism as well as parts of the hymns. I think we underestimate the capacity small children have for memorization! I’m definitely going to start incorporating Scripture passages into our bedtime routine for them. They also learn really well by singing. Do you have any good recommendations for Scripture songs (KJV)?

  4. Jana July 3, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    Thanks for sharing! I also just had the same inspiration and began reciting the Lord’s Prayer with our 21 month old daughter before bedtime. She asks for us to repeat it to prolong bedtime and who can resist? After just a few repetitions, she could fill in the last word of each line. She is now trying to keep up when we say it after just a couple weeks of hearing it. It is so cute to hear her little voice say “temptation!” I can’t wait to introduce more scripture to hide into her heart for when she gets older. Thanks for your post!

  5. Meredith July 2, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

    This is so wonderful! Yet another “Duh!” moment for me courtesy of Passionate Homemaking :) I complicate (and sometimes just plain suck the joy out of) things by trying to add them to a list instead of working them into something as natural as bedtime! Thanks for the helpful and encouraging reminder, Lindsay!

  6. Kate July 2, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    I am new to your blog but so thankful I stumbled upon it when I did. I have an almost 4, 2, and 1 year old (and am expecting my 4th in September) and have been trying to do scripture memory with them. The idea of adding it into another part of our day never occurred to me. Excited to start doing this with my littles, and what a wonderful idea to do it at bedtime, what sweet words to fall asleep hearing.

    Thanks for the encouragement!
    ~Blessings

  7. Andrea July 1, 2012 at 8:47 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this! I am going to begin doing this with my 5 year old.

  8. Cierra July 1, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

    Thank you for this blog post! It was weird because I had decided today that I wanted to start memorizing scripture with my 4 year old (Tytus) and tonight as I sat at my computer to check my blog roll, here was your post-perfect!

    Blessings to you and your family!

  9. Julia Reffner July 1, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

    Wonderful ideas for incorporating Scripture memory into our children’s lives.

  10. Lanai June 30, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

    I love this! What is so beautiful about it, is in the Jewish culture, the mothers were responsible to read the Torah (first 5 books of the bible) to their little ones while nursing them through the age of 5!! Then the fathers took them and were responsible for implementing this established principle to them through the age of 12. At the age of 12, they released them to the Lord & submitted responsibility to Him at that point. there are so many studies showing the amazing development of babies brains in their early years, why would reading the word to them be any different? If anything I would think it would stick even more bc the word says that Gods word won’t return void!

    • Keren June 30, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

      Lanai, your picture of this in Jewish culture is wonderful, and sounds like other aspect I’ve heard before. I’m just curious if you have a source for this, whether online or in print. I’d love to have a reference for this. I am nursing a little one right now (and nursed both of his sisters past one year), and so this is meaningful as I treasure and use that time.

  11. Carrie June 30, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    Just curious, do you go into detail about the meaning of each scripture? I have always been hesitant to try to get my 4 year old to memorize loner scriptures without the ability to fully comprehend them. She knows many short verses, I beleive she is up to 15 at this point. They are all from school and the meanings are influenced by what they are working on. She also sings many chrisitan songs and I do try to talk to her about the meanings. I guess that for me, I not only want her to memorize them, I want her to take in the significance. But at the same point memorizing is a learning tool and I suppose that if you are going to build cognition, that certainly would be a very good way to do it!

    • Lindsay July 1, 2012 at 6:47 am #

      No, I don’t. I feel like this is the season for memorizing and hiding it in their heart. And the next season, after this foundational stage, is for understanding and comprehending and discussing what they have memorized when they are old enough to comprehend and reason. I follow the Classical Education model in this idea with the foundations, logic, and rhetoric periods of learning. It is really helpful!

  12. Tracie June 30, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    First, thank you to Jackie for sharing John Newton’s testamony with us. I had not heard it before. What great encouragement for us parents!

    A couple years ago, when my older son was about 5, we started reciting Psalm 23 at bedtime. At the time, my son was going through a bad nightmare phase (it was also around halloween so of course every store had scarry stuff). Our elderly neighbor suggested we say it with him at bedtime to comfort him before falling asleep. After several weeks, both of my boys, even the 2 yr old could say it word for word! We have since gone on to memorize many other verses.

    The Ten Commandments is good to memorize when studying American History and Galations 5:22 The Fruits of The Spirit has been great when I am correcting attitudes. “Remember how God wants us to be patient and wait our turn? That is a fruit of the Spirit!”

    • Lindsay July 1, 2012 at 6:47 am #

      Yes! Ten Commandments and the fruits of the Spirit are on our list next!

  13. Shonda June 30, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    That is so sweet! I started doing memory work when my son turned 2 and we used Songs for Saplings. He knows so many different Scriptures now. I can’t wait to see how he uses this when he gets older. This is a focus I have too.

  14. Jamasina June 30, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    A friend has recommended your blog to me for quite some time now, so I finally decided to check it out!

    God sure does have an interesting way of working in our lives. My son is only six months old, but I want to establish good routines now. Last night I was keeping myself awake thinking of possible nap time routines. Thank you for this great idea!

  15. Jackie June 30, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    We started scripture memory this past year as well and I was amazed at what my 4 and 5 year old boys could do :)

    I also wanted to mention that I read the biography of John Newton a few months ago (composer of Amazing Grace) and it really brought home for me the importance of teaching scripture in the early years. In a nutshell, Newton had a Christian mother that taught him scripture, etc but she died when he was 5. He grew up and was an unbeliever, engaging in all manner of reckless living and sin. However, when the Holy Spirit finally got a hold of him, he relates that all kinds of scripture came flooding into his mind, convicting him of his sinful state, and leading him to repentance! These were the things his mother had taught him age 5 and under – isn’t that amazing?

    • Lindsay July 1, 2012 at 6:49 am #

      That’s so awesome to hear, Jackie. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Heather June 30, 2012 at 3:29 am #

    We have started using the sing the word cd that is part of core A from sonlight. My daughter loves it, and although we have just started using it, she has memorized a couple of the songs, and sings them all the time. We use music to remember a lot of things, like the days of the week, and different seasons, books of the Bible. I think that scripture memorization is very important! And I need to do more of it myself!

    • Lindsay June 30, 2012 at 7:39 am #

      Yes, we do many of these ideas as well! We do memory work in our circle time in the morning, but the bedtime allows us to memorize larger portions of Scripture in an easy manner as well.

  17. Allyson @ A Heart for Home June 29, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    I love the idea of scripture memory work right before bed. What better words to be thinking on as they fall asleep?

    We’ve been adding more scripture memory work to our days. We’re using the index card box idea from Simple Charlotte Mason.

    Within the first 3 days our 5 year old, 3 year old and 2 year old learned Romans 3:23. We say the verse at each meal. With this method we add verses and then systematically review the verses we’ve already memorized.

    I like the idea of Psalm 23 at bedtime. We may add that in, too.

  18. April June 29, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    Wonderful post! Thank you so much for this encouragement!

  19. Aisha June 29, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    AWESOME….ENCOURAGING!