A couple of years ago we set a goal as a family to read the Book of Mormon in a year. My husband figured out that if we read two pages every day we would be done in time. There were just a few problems with this.
- Reading scriptures based on pages rather than chapters is a very disjointed way to read and makes the stories hard to follow. It’s a fine way to do it if you are really studying each verse individually and doing more in-depth study, but for our young family it just did not work.
- Two pages of scripture is A LOT, especially for young children who aren’t as familiar with the language used in the scriptures, and especially if you are wanting small children to listen and get anything out of family scripture study. They get bored, they have a hard time following the story because it is written so differently from the story books that they are used to. This resulted in lots of lectures, impatient reminders to the kids to sit still and listen, and (let’s be honest) yelling, and tears. When family scripture study ends in yelling, tears, and consequences, clearly something is not right.
- The children began to hate family scripture time.
- We, as parents, began to hate family scripture time.
- We felt like we were reading scriptures AT our children, rather than to them or with them.
I finally decided enough was enough and began to look for a better way. I talked to my husband and told him that we were done with the two pages a day thing, I explained that we were not creating the type of feeling that I wanted our family to have during scripture time, and that we were creating an atmosphere in our home of contention, dread, and power struggles. He said he was open for suggestions, he didn’t like the way that things were going either.
We decided that we were going to slow down and focus on one scripture STORY a week. Our kids are young it’s the stories that are important at this stage, it’s the stories that they remember. Someday when they are older we can have more in-depth study taking one or two verses at a time, or reading several pages at a time. For now, they are young, it’s the stories that touch their hearts, and that they can find something familiar to relate to, that they remember. And it’s the stories that they think of, or the spirit brings to their minds, when they are in a situation where they have to make the right choice.
Once we made the switch to telling stories from the scriptures things completely changed. If I forget to do scriptures the kids remind me, they look forward to hearing the stories, and usually by the end of the week they can tell ME the story. It’s fun to have them remembering the stories that they hear from the scriptures, talking about them and acting them out. I like to keep some variety in the way we teach and tell the stories, just to keep things fun. Here are some ideas:
- Use pictures from the Gospel Art Picture kit (I hear that it’s a book now, which is a shame because the box with all the pictures is awesome) or pictures from lds.org
- Tell it like a bedtime story. (We usually do this when bedtime is later than I would like and I’m telling the story as the kids get ready for bed.)
- Read a few verses from the scriptures and explain what they mean. (It is important for kids to learn to understand scripture language and for it to become familiar to them)
- Watch the videos on the Mormon Channel or on lds.org.
- This book Children of the Book of Mormon by Merrilee Boyack is awesome!
- Story kits from Time Savors on Etsy, she has one for The Book of Mormon, The Old Testament, The New Testament, and she’s working on one for church history. These are fun, they include stories with picture symbols so even really young kids can help ‘read’, clip art that can be used for puppets or flannel board figures (check out this post for an easy way to make flannel board stories), mazes, lacing cards, a memory game, and ‘test your memory’ quizzes. These kits are about $15 each, we only have the Book of Mormon set at the moment, I plan to buy the rest.
- The Scripture Readers. We like these because there are lots of pictures to go with each story.
How do you do Family Scripture Study in your home? What have you found that works for you? I’m always looking for suggestions and ideas!