Take The Next Step: Scripture Memory

Psalm 119:11 – “Your Word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You. NASB”

This one verse is probably the single most often-utilized verse people turn to when they think about why they should memorize Scripture. This verse gets to the heart of Scripture memory, but how does this apply to parenting children with special needs?  How should we approach Scripture memory –what should our goal be for Scripture memory? How do we develop real, effective Scripture memory plans where God’s Word is remembered, understood and lived out in our lives and the lives of the children? And, how to we take into account the role of the Holy Spirit in teaching children so they will understand God’s Word to be able to live it in their lives?

The Bible speaks very positively about Scripture memory for everyone.  If you’re not convinced, just re-read Psalm 119:11 above or Jesus’ temptation in Matthew 4. Knowing the Bible from memory is a great benefit for everyone.

My desire is that my children would come to love and uphold the truth of Scripture in their precious hearts.  My prayer is that we might plant seeds of the gospel in their tender souls so they would desire to walk closely with Christ. I want to be able to memorize Scripture together with my children – combining storing truth in my heart and in their hearts at the same time. But how can this be done in a simple manner?

Scripture memory doesn’t have to be complex and overwhelming. It simply requires repetition. I think the key here for me was the idea of simply adding it to one of our other regular routines – bedtime! We already have a regular bedtime routine established which helps settle my boys down for the night in a peaceful manner. Why not follow the challenge to just read an adopted portion of Scripture for memory work during this time?

In the last five weeks, I’ve a bedtime routine with reading a passage of Scripture before tucking them in.  Currently we’re attempting Ephesians 4:26 because it addresses some behavioral issues that one of my sons’ struggle with.  We read it one time every night.  It takes maybe 60-seconds of time.  It is such an encouragement to my soul to hear my son reading this verse to know that I’m trying my best to honor the Lord in this endeavor.

Teaching a child with special needs to memorize Scripture is in many ways like teaching a child any other skill or craft. It often requires an individualized approach. Sometimes hearing a few helpful hints will be enough to support and motivate parents who want to begin teaching their child how to memorize Scripture! Our podcast on Scripture memory will help you to learn how to use our Scripture memory  template for a child who meets one of the following criteria:

  • A child who can read.
  • A child who has SOME sight words.
  • A child who is echolalic.
  • A nonverbal child who has good visual discrimination skills.

Here’s a few extra thoughts about scripture memory and kids with special needs:

Don’t overdo it by giving your child too much to memorize.  This happens when parents pick a verse that’s too long for their child or pick too many verses at one time.  For my son on the severe end of the autism spectrum I’ve selected a small portion of one verse, “In your anger do not sin” (Eph.4:26).

It may take awhile, so be patient.  For some odd reason I was thinking that we’d experience “overnight success” with Scripture memory.  Wrong!  We’ve been reciting the same passage now for over a month and still have a ways to go.

Avoid picking verses randomly.  Our kids are no different that we are.  The more applicable or functional a verse is to what’s going in their lives the greater the level of motivation for remembering it.  The current verse I’ve selected for my son Jacob, “In your anger do not sin” centers around his anger over what appears to be the smallest of things.

Individualize your approach.  Our kids are not “one size fits all kids.”  So approach Scripture memory in a way that utilizes your child’s individual learning style.  For some kids, you may want to have them listen to and repeat the selected verse.  For others, others you may need to think about making flash cards and placing one word on each card.  This is a great approach for kids with can sight-read.  No matter your approach, use a method that taps into your child’s strengths.

Here’s the link to our Scripture memory template for this month:  http://www.scribd.com/doc/110063004/Scripture-Memory-Self-Control

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Michael Woods, M.A. BCaBA

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About Michael Woods

Christ-follower, husband, chocoholic, and peanut-butter lover! I'm a father to triplet boys...each on the autism spectrum.

View all posts by Michael Woods


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