Family Scripture Study
Figuring out how to make scripture study work in our family has been a process of re-creation. We’d try it one way, our children grew, we’d adapt to the growth, they’d grow again, we’d adapt again. The cycle has be re-worked so many times. We also had to adapt to take into account changing work, school, and sleep schedules. No easy task!
In the beginning, we started out reading from the Scripture Stories books.
(For more information about teaching children scriptures, go here.) Then at some point we moved to reading a verse out of the scriptures or helping them to read from the scriptures. When we got to the point where we had enough readers, we had each child read one or two verses. The children who didn’t know how to read repeated one verse after Mom or Dad read it, a couple words at a time, aloud. Then the beginning-reading child would sound out one or two or three of the first words in the verse and repeat the rest, until at some point they could sound out an entire verse. And so forth.
By the time everyone was in kindergarten or first grade, each child could typically read the scriptures aloud. Of course, there were always those weird names or difficult words that we helped them to sound out. But I have to say that daily family scripture study (and individual reading with Mom during the day) really is the reason each of our children became solidly good readers.
Now, since everyone is a reader and we’re in a different stage of life, our scripture study follows this pattern:
- We gather in the kitchen and ask someone to be the leader. (We use to have a schedule for that, but life changes so much, we just went to asking a child each day or doing it ourselves.)
- That person chooses a hymn, unless we’re singing the hymn-of-the-month that day. (I ask each child which hymn they’d like to learn and then put it together in a calendar of one hymn per month. We practice that hymn the first week of each month, and then randomly the other weeks.) We sing together.
- Daddy (or Nate, if Lane isn’t there, or Mom, if Nate’s gone, or the oldest child, if it gets to that point) asks someone to pray. We have an opening prayer.
- We recite the scripture memorization scriptures for that month (printed on the back of our scripture bookmark).
- We open up to where we are reading. The leader chooses who starts the reading and which direction the circle of reading will go. We each read two verses aloud. We don’t stop for questions (typically) or comments until everyone has read. Then the leader asks questions to get the discussion going. We help our younger children sometimes, but they have generally learned from participating what kinds of questions are helpful to discussion: What verse was important to you? Why do you think this verse said “_______?” How does this part apply to us now? What does this word mean? Why do you think this prophet said this? etc.
- The leader wraps up the discussion with his or her testimony or other closing thoughts.
- We all kneel down for family prayer.
The whole process can take as little as 5 minutes or extend to 30 minutes. 30 minutes is rarer because we are usually eating breakfast and hurrying off to school or Lane needs to be leaving for work. (We do scripture study in the morning because this is the time that, at this stage in our lives, we have been able to be the most consistent.)
I think this is my favorite way of doing scripture study because it allows for the most participation and more balance between parents and children. I also like this way because each child learns how to lead a group discussion and to think about what they are reading. The reason for the structure was an answer to prayer: consistent structure helps eliminate contention and confusion, which both are huge detractors to a quick and happy scripture study. It wasn’t very quick or very happy when we were arguing over who does what and when–a really common problem in large families, I think!
The biggest challenge of scripture study, of course, is being able to get sleepy teenagers to scripture study and then to inspire them to keep their eyes open.
Hmm. Still working on that.
The benefits of scripture study are many, and I’ll save that post for another day! Hope this post helped give you some ideas of how you might be able to have scripture study in your family.
Happy Scripture Study,
P.S. Here is a Pinterest page I found with a lot of great scripture study ideas on it! Here’s also a helpful website for scripture study we’ve used before when we set a goal to read a book in a specific amount of time: ldsscripturetools.com. Of course, the lds.org site has tons of ideas on how to make scripture study work for your family. Just google “lds.org family scripture study ideas.” The best idea about creating a family scripture study structure for your family I have is to pray and ask Heavenly Father to help you know how to create a successful scripture study time in your home. My best piece of advice is to remember that no scripture study system is perfect, so just start and keep trying to make it happen, and it will be a blessing no matter how unsuccessful it feels!