More than ever before we need to help our children gain their own testimony and conversion through the scriptures and the Spirit. These ideas can help. Feel free to leave a comment about what you do to help make your family scripture study come alive! This is scripture feasting tool #6 in a summer series of 25 tools. If you'd like to receive all the tools you're welcome to subscribe to my blog or my Facebook page.
For children too young to read, you can whisper each phrase in a toddler's ear and let him or her try to repeat what you say. Toddlers tend to love this.
2. Skits and stories.
We love scripture skits! Have fun acting out Ammon and the arms, Lehi's tree of life dream, and Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Being in the story makes it stick. Then of course discuss any lessons you can pull from the story, like "If God helped Ammon do something that hard, will He help you with your hard stuff?"
My husband Mike is an awesome story teller. He has told wonderful scripture stories where he has our kids going back in time to be part of the story. One way my husband fell in love with scripture stories was by listening to the Living Scriptures dramatized scripture stories at bedtime as a child. One of my favorite ways to fall in love with scripture stories is Scripture Scouts, which includes adorable songs and stories. Those are great for car rides.
3. Drawing or Journaling.
- Have your kids draw a picture of something your family is reading that day.
- Or invite them to write about something they learned after reading it.
- Here is a writing resource one reader recommended. Book of Mormon Study Guide: Diagrams, Doodles, and Insights.
- Play dough is another option to have kids create something from the story.
- Having some quiet toys in the room for toddlers or preschoolers while the family reads is a great idea as well. The little ones feel the peaceful Spirit from what is being read and they're learning the language of the scriptures.
4. Kid scriptures.
- LDS scripture reader books.
- Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families. This book allows you to read straight from the scriptures while giving you pictures, maps, definitions, and study questions.
- Scripture Stories videos on LDS.org.
- Gospel Library app on your smart phone. Click on "children" and then on a book of scripture. You can read the scripture story to your kids or play the movie. One mom likes to do both in a row, finding that her kids retain it better with the repetition, and then some discussion about it.
- Scripture Study for Latter-Day Saint Families has activities, object lessons, stories, discussion questions, quotes, and insights to help make scriptures more meaningful.
- What about kids having their own scriptures? We do that. When our children are young we buy them an inexpensive blue Book of Mormon and they can feel free to mark it up like we do with ours. When they turn eight we buy them a used (good condition) full set of scriptures and encourage them to mark their favorite verses. When they enter ninth grade for seminary we buy them a good set of scriptures. By then they have practice marking and realize it's a good idea to be choosy about which verses they mark. They can take these scriptures on their mission.
Asking questions as you read can help keep children engaged.
- Questions about the story: "What was Jesus doing?" "What do you think Jesus is talking about?"
- Questions about your child's feelings and how they would act: "How would you feel if Jesus asked for your few loaves and fishes if nobody else had food? What do you think you would do? What do you think Jesus would want you to do?"
- Questions about their testimony: "Do you think Jesus really made those loaves and fishes feed that many people?" After your child answers, you can add your testimony to theirs, "I know He did. Jesus can do anything because He has all power. So when we need help with our problems like finding lost keys He can totally do that for us! Isn't that awesome?"
- You could also ask if any family member has a question that day, and then show your family how to find answers in the scriptures by searching topically. This is a great skill to teach your children. Maybe one day a week could be scripture question day, and invite your kids to think of a question during the week.
- Along with questions, I like using fill in the blanks to keep everyone's attention and make sure they're reading along in their own scriptures. I pause when I get to a certain word or phrase and let the kids say it aloud.
6. Read, summarize, principle.
This is the method our family has been using since I started teaching seminary last year. Each family member takes a turn reading 4-5 verses, and then summarizes what he or she just read. Summarizing makes you think! Then the person finds a principle, which is a truth you can use. One way to find a principle is to ask, "What's a life lesson in this passage?" This method is simple but powerful and works great for older children. You can also ask each family member to share their favorite take-away or life lesson from today's reading, and/or set a goal of how to apply what you learned.
7. Read on their own and discuss together.
I have two friends who have used this method for a while. Family members do their reading on their own (which we hope our children are doing anyway, right?) and then the family gets together to discuss what they read. Perhaps each person could read aloud his or her favorite verse from the given chapter and share why the child liked it, inviting family members to mark that verse if they liked it too. And of course use questions and discuss together how the passages apply to them.
This reminds me of scripture study in the car. Sometimes each person shares a scripture they've recently read and what they like about it. We also keep an inexpensive Book of Mormon in our van or we use a smart phone.
8. Scripture party!
You could set a goal to read the whole Book of Mormon and then to throw a party to celebrate when you finish. Our kids have loved this - cake, ice cream, and all. I started a 90 day Book of Mormon challenge for this summer. (Join us if you'd like!) I know of entire families that took on the challenge to read it together, including young children. Impressive! I hope they have a fun celebration when they finish such an accomplishment!
9. Double up with church programs.
Sometimes we read the scripture verses required to pass off a goal in a child's Personal Progress, Faith in God, or Duty to God program, and then discuss them together as a family. Perhaps your Sunday scripture study could be this method.
|My twin boys and I working on Faith in God just before they turned twelve...and giggling!|
10. Make it a devotional.
In our family we spend a little extra time adding a few things to our scripture study to make it more of a devotional. We have one person conduct devotional each day, welcoming the family and asking for that day's announcements. That person gets to choose someone to pick a song (sometimes we sing several as the more we sing the more we seem to feel the Spirit) and someone to say a family prayer. We review a quote or verse we're memorizing, and then that person can choose how we're going to study our scriptures that day. Since we started homeschooling several years ago we added a Pledge of Allegiance and reading something inspiring like a section from For the Strength of Youth, or a few pages from my favorite parenting book that includes great stories and life lessons.
Elder Holland said, "Teach them and above all testify to them, love them, bear your witness from the depths of your soul. It will be the most important thing you say to them in the entire hour, and it may save someone’s spiritual life" (2007 World Wide Leadership Training).
Elder Ballard said, "Testimony -- real testimony, born of the Spirit and confirmed by the Holy Ghost -- changes lives" (Ensign, Nov. 2004).
And Elder Packer said, "A testimony is to be found in the bearing of it" (The Candle of the Lord, 54-55)!It might sound awkward to bear testimony in your own family room with your own family. It doesn't need to be! I do it often informally. I might say, "I testify that what Alma just said about Christ's Atonement is true. Christ really did die for us and suffer for all our challenges and sins. I don't know how I could go through life without knowing that."
You could take it a step further and invite, "Who wants to make an 'I know' statement from what we just read?" You can model this yourself until your family members get the hang of it, "I know that it was God's power that freed Alma and Amulek from the prison, and I know God can help us through our challenges too."
As you testify and invite others to testify you are inviting the Spirit to come in and confirm the truth to everyone in the room. Be sure to explain once in a while what your kids are feeling so they know how to recognize the Spirit. "Wow, I feel the Spirit about what we just read. It makes me feel peaceful and good inside. That's the Holy Ghost telling me it's true. Have you ever felt that feeling when we're reading the scriptures?" Your enthusiasm and love for the scriptures is contagious, so let it show by how you talk about them.
Don't give up!
My parents dutifully held family prayer and scriptures virtually every day while I was growing up. No matter who argued or slept through it or complained. Regretfully I mumbled and resisted because I didn't like getting up early and I had lots of other things to do. But it was one of the best investments my parents ever made for our family. And it is paying off to this day. Most of the seven kids still have daily scripture study with their own families. Payday, Mom and Dad! Thank you for not giving up when it was hard. I am so grateful.
And if you have young children, even reading a few verses is great! Don't expect too much too soon. Consistency in the little bit is much more powerful than reading tons one day and skipping three weeks before reading again. If you skip a day, forgive yourself and move on. Start over. Never, ever give up!
You could invite an older child to prepare a lesson on how to improve your family scripture study. He or she could read through this list of ideas and then share them with the group, having a discussion and voting on ways the family would like to get more out of scripture study. Or you could make a copy of the ideas for each member of the family to read silently and then discuss and decide what methods to us.