Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Teaching the Scriptures

I am repeatedly asked by people I know how do my children know their scriptures so well.  I am particularly questioned by their primary teachers.  I'm told they know not just the basic story, but they know everything before and everything after.  The teachers comment that they know details that most people don't know. 

I haven't been the world's most consistent parent, but we have been consistent on the scriptures.  As a youth I learned to love the scriptures and Mr. Patriot is  a lover and student of the scriptures also.  Teaching our children to learn to immerse themselves in the scriptures as always been a top priority.  We have always had family home evening (FHE) and we have always taught them out of the scriptures. 

So here are some things that we have done through the years:

  1. When they were babies/toddlers for FHE we would show them the scripture art kit pictures and read and tell them story after story.  (This is a great book available now).
  2. For bedtime stories we would read them the scripture readers for part of their bedtime stories.  I have no idea how many times we read those.
  3. Regardless of their age "family scripture study" always meant reading the real scriptures.  We exposed them early and regularly to the language of the scriptures.  We have read them all the standard works (except the Old Testament) several times.  Over and over we went.
  4. Once they got out of the toddler stage Family Home Evening became about teaching dotrince.  Character training or scripture stories were done during other times of the day or the beginning of FHE.  The lesson however is always teaching them doctrine.  I learned not to underestimate what they can understand as young as four or five.
  5. When I taught them to read they learned how to read out of the scriptures first, the McGuffey reader second.  When they were a little more independent their first readers were the scriptures readers.  I have one child, Determination, who has read the readers cover to cover dozens of times.
  6. I taught them the songs, "The Books of the Old Testament," "Books of the New Testament," Books of the Book of Mormon," "Follow the Prophet," "Book of Mormon Stories extra verses," and "'Latter-day Prophets."  (to name a few) These songs have helped them to find scriptures easier and quicker.  They are great scripture chasers.  When they hear some one say Micah for instance they know instantly they are talking about the Old Testament.  If someone says Mormon they know it is after the story of Alma the Younger.
  7. They each have time lines for the scriptures.  Every time we learn about someone  or event we see what year it was and how much earlier of later they were the some else we may of just learned about.  The Old Testament timeline is especially useful for sorting out the prophets and kings in the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah.  We've spend many hours trying to memorize who goes where.
  8. We talk history.  I remember one morning a couple of weeks ago we sat after breakfast and had nearly a two hour discussion/lesson on teaching them how to sort through the time period of King Mosiah/Benjamin/Mosiah and Zeniff/Noah/Limhi that was occurring simultaneously as well as the Lamanite involvement in both cities/kingdoms.  The Book of Mosiah can get pretty confusing.  So we discuss at legth the history of what we are reading.
  9. We always use a map to put it in perspective. We have also taught them how to use the index, topical guide, Bible dictionary, table of contents, foot notes, cross references, and the maps.
  10. Questions.  We always ask questions before we read the scriptures.   For example last night at FHE one of the scriptures I read was in 3 Nephi 27.  I asked, "If it is 3 Nephi 27 who do we know would be speaking ?' Another scripture I read was in John 2.  I asked, "If it is John 2 when in Christ's ministry can we know this is taking place?"
  11. Application.  After every scripture we say, "How does this apply to you personally?  How does this apply to our family?"
  12. Each family member is expected to read their scriptures everyday.  They also know they can ask us any questions  so they have  understanding. I ask them nearly every day to narrate back to me what they learned from their personal scripture study.
I love the scriptures.  I believe that it is one of our most important duties as "Mothers Who Know" to be teaching our children how to study them deeply and find personal application in their lives. 


Andrea said...

I just found your blog and can't wait to have time to read more. Thank you for all your suggestions. I love how specific you are in the ideas. So helpful!

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

Very thorough list! Amen to number 3. We have always read straight from the scriptures so there is no "language barrier" for our children.

Misty said...

I agree with Chocolate. The power, as Alma said, is in the word. It's a shame when we dilute it.

The other day, my 13 month old turned to me after looking at a picture of Moroni and said as clear as day, "Title of Liberty." Then he smiled.

You can't tell me that they don't understand the word of God as it was written...they surely do!

The Lazy Organizer said...

You are such a good example to us! I bought that picture book, took it apart and put the pages in plastic sleeves so it would last a long time. My children never complained before but they are thoroughly enjoying our scripture studies since we started using it.

It also helps that we read scriptures right before family work time so for some reason they're never in a hurry for it to end! Ha!

Googs said...

In step #3, you said, "We have read them all the standard works (except the Old Testament) several times. " I'm just wondering if there is a reason why you have not been as consistent with the Old Testament or it has just happened that way?

Thanks for the thoughts, there are a lot of great ideas!

Being A Mother Who Knows said...

Googs-Thanks for your question. I think part of not reading the Old Testament was just that's the way it happened. We have read parts of the Old Testament here and there several times. We will read the Book of Mormon and then read the D & C. Then we would read the BOM again, then the NT, and back to to BOM, etc. I have always felt strongly that the Book of Mormon was our latter-day scripture for us. I grew up with President Benson speaking to members about reading it everyday, so we've focused my in depth study with them on the Book of Mormon.

And yes, straight from the scriptures is the best way to go!

Jocelyn Christensen said...


Anonymous said...

I would love to teach my kids to read from the scriptures. But
I'm not sure how to do so. I know how to teach phonics but have a hard time finding scriptures that they will have success reading with the sounds they know. Are there verses you like to start with? Can you tell me what a reading lesson looks like for an emergent reader with the scriptures? phelpsita@hotmail.com