We have a couple of memorization projects going on, that will probably take years to complete. But we are trying to grow in diligence, perseverance and self-discipline, and this is one way we are trying to cultivate those qualities. And the obvious benefit is having the Scriptures and other good things stored in our hearts.
David Mulligan, in “Far Above Rubies: Wisdom in the Christian Community” says that, based on the Proverbs, the path of learning follows the stages of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. According to this model, we are in the knowledge stage right now. My children want to know about everything. They ask a question and then, before you finish answering it, they ask another one! We spend a lot of time reading and memorizing the Bible, because that is what they need to know the best. We learn other things as well, but we frame it as learning about God’s world. All learning must fit into the framework of God’s word and God’s world, because everything is made by God, sustained by God, governed by God’s laws, and has a purpose designed by God for His glory. One of the reasons we homeschool is so we have time to teach the children God’s word. I think that if they were at school all day we’d be less likely to find the time or energy to work on this. As it is, there are days when I am tempted to skip it in favor of something easier.
Young children memorize very easily. They even think it is fun! I’ve been learning, in keeping with my previous post about expectations for our children, that my children are able to do much more than I give them credit for. They enjoy good creative play ,
Our first project is to memorize the entire Book of Psalms. We started last year and are only on Psalm Seven, but we keep plodding along. It takes us several weeks to memorize one Psalm, because most of them are pretty long. I’ve been tempted to give up, and at times have not been diligent about pursuing this goal. But it is worth it, so we keep picking up where we left off, and I am trying to be more consistent now. After we memorize a psalm, the children and I set it to a tune and record it, so we can listen to it and learn to sing it. We never forget it once it is set to music because music is a powerful aid to memory. It blesses my heart every time I hear the children (even Laura) singing a Psalm we’ve memorized. For more memory aids, go here.
Our other project is to memorize Spurgeon’s Catechism, which is a catechism he compiled from the Westminster Catechism and the Baptist Catechism. We memorize one a week, and once the children know it fairly well I copy it out on Handwriting Without Tears lined paper, scan it, and print out copies for them to use for copywork. I give them a few days to complete it, since they are still young. We are just memorizing the words right now (knowledge), but, after we get through all the questions, we will go back and study the Scriptures that go along with them (understanding).
Once they memorize a Scripture or catechism question, I make a copy of it and put it in a reading notebook. Whenever they feel like reading they pull out their notebook and read the passages they’ve memorized. They still sound out the words, but because the passage is familiar to them it is easier for them to figure out the words. It also serves to reinforce what they’ve memorized. Matthew has been teaching Sarah the catechism questions for devotions in the morning, by reading them to her from the notebook, and yesterday she asked Rob to help her say them. They are all so excited about learning.
The third catechism question is “What do the Scriptures principally teach?” The answer is “The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.” We were at church last Sunday, listening to the sermon. Sarah was listening, and she looked over at me all excited and said, “Mommy, Mr. Lenfesty said Scriptures!!!” I love it that our studying is making it possible for our three year old to get excited about the sermon.