As I scrolled through Facebook- past the ads, the drama, and the memes- one video popped out at me. There she was, a sweet little girl about three years old. Her mama prompted her as she spouted out scripture after scripture. Frankly, this teeny tiny child knew more scripture than I did. Hmmm…
That little sister in Christ inspired me. She challenged me. Surely my own son could have the Word hidden so deeply in his own heart? Surely I should also be more diligent in teaching my little guy to love and know what God says in His Word?
I decided to take a baby step. We would try just one verse, every morning at breakfast. One week later, and my two-an-a-half-year-old son could recite three (quite lengthy!) Bible verses.
Mama, your toddler can and should memorize scripture.
Your little one can spout off the theme song of his favorite show right? (Gonna go wild, wild Wild Kratts…”) Wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear him speaking life-giving words straight from God’s heart, instead?
Yep, sign me up.
So, consider the following post a judgment-free zone. Whether you’ve been purposeful about teaching your child Scripture in the past, or whether (like yours truly) you’ve somehow not put the emphasis on Bible memorization as it should be, this is your chance. Let me show you the why and how of teaching your toddler or preschooler how to memorize Scripture.
Psst…one more thing to remember. This really isn’t about being able to show off your child’s abilities, impress the pastor’s wife, or drill your child with stressful memory work. It’s about opening up a world of Truth for your child to carry around with him wherever he goes. Let’s just say “no” to comparison-itis, shall we?
(Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.)
Why should my toddler memorize Scripture?
Why is memorizing scripture so important for young children? Isn’t nightly Bible stories and Sunday School each week enough? Let’s be honest here. I need Jesus every hour of the day. My little man does too! Memorizing Scripture is a powerful way to stay mindful of God’s presence throughout the day. Here are three secrets why memorizing the Bible is essential for toddlers.
To build your child’s faith.
The very first verse that my son memorized was 2 Corinthians 5: 17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new is come!” When my son has a bad day (Because, yes, everybody has bad days!) I teach him to speak this verse out loud. God’s Word is powerful. It is rooted in Truth. And it’s capable of awakening the soul of even the youngest person. There are no limits to who the Holy Spirit chooses to speak to.
To build your faith.
Now, when I have a bad day (Because, have I told ya that everybody has ’em?) I need encouragement in the faith, too! Almost nothing can bring me to happy tears and a grateful heart faster than hearing my little man repeating Galatians 5: 1 to me: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.” A few mispronounced words here and there make it that much more precious. Prophecy, little man!
To under-gird your parenting with Truth.
Feel like you’re lacking real authority in your role as a mom? Memorizing Scripture with your child is a great place to start! Why do I discipline my son? I’ll tell ya, it’s not because I just love doling out time-outs, consequences, and spankings. It’s because I have a deep love and a genuine concern for my son’s soul. When I discipline, I can help my son recite certain verses that add another layer of meaning to the situation. My little guy starts to grasp the connection between the words in his head and how those words speak to his soul, emotions, mind, and attitude. Psalm 19: 14 says, “May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be pleasing in your sight, Oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Go ahead, ask your child how their words, actions, and thoughts are pleasing to God at the moment.
How can my toddler memorize Scripture?
Convinced that it’s really, really important? Great! Now, where on earth should you start? Take a peek at these next three secrets to show you the practical application of how to teach your toddler Scripture.
Make it a habit.
Consistency is absolutely key in memorization. What time of day can you dedicate as memory work time? For us, it’s during breakfast. We sit down with our oatmeal with peanut butter (Yep, try it. Amazing!) and I bring out our little index card book full of verses. Almost every morning we do this, and it’s come to be a time I really look forward to! Make a goal for five days in a row of memory work. Mark it as a priority on your calendar, or even set an alarm on your phone as a reminder. Stick to it! As your child starts to understand what to expect, I promise it will get easier.
Keep it short and simple.
When I say short, I really don’t mean that we should shorten or “dumb down” Scripture verses. In fact, I’d recommend the opposite. Little children have amazing memory capabilities! No matter the length of the verse, keep your memory work session no more than 5-10 minutes at a time. Now, if something gets too complicated, that’s a guarantee that I’ll eventually give up on it. That’ why we keep our memory work really simple. No fancy flash cards or crafts. Just a Dollar Store index card book and our brains at work.
Here’s the simple process I use to help my toddler memorize Scripture:
- Say the verse aloud, nice and slow. Do this 2-3 times.
- Ask your child to say the verse with you a few times.
- Start to leave off select words on the ends of phrases and have your child fill in the blanks.
- Continue this process for however many days it takes until your child can say the entire verse by himself.
- When you’ve got one down, start another verse! Go back once a week or so to review the verses your child has already memorized.
The beauty of simplicity like this is that you can take your memorization anywhere- in the car, on a walk, at the park. Make it a continuous thread throughout your daily routine!
Encourage, encourage, encourage.
Don’t get hung up on mispronounced words, stumbles, or stutters. Praise any effort that your child makes to recite Scripture! Also, let your child show his hard work to your spouse, Grandma, Grandpa, and anyone who will listen! Let him know that when he tells other people God’s Word, it make them happy, too! Just be sure to keep encounters like this low-pressure and stress-free. If your child feels timid about saying his memory verses in front of others just say, “We’ll try again later!” and keep on practicing at home. Don’t make it a huge deal if he’s not ready to share in front of other people. I always tell my son, “It makes my heart so happy to hear you say God’s Word.”
Ready to join with me as we raise kids who love and know God’s Word? Helping toddlers and preschoolers doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful. All it takes is one baby step after the other. Get started today with your personal favorite verse!
Share with us in the comments below! What verses do you teach your little ones?