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4 Steps to Helping Kids (and YOURSELF) Memorize Scripture

Memorizing scripture is not just for kids. It’s for every believer! The same techniques and activities can be used with all age groups, and IT CAN BE FUN!  If you’re encouraging kids to memorize scripture, make sure you’re setting the example. One of the basic things to understand when memorizing scripture is a key that I call the 4 Rs—Repeat, Relate, Recall, and Review. 
Repeat. When you first start with a verse, you need to say it over and over and over. That’s usually where teachers stop when working on scripture memorization with their students. They use a diehard technique of writing the verse on the board and erasing one word at a time until the verse disappears and the kids can recite the verse without thinking. They’ve managed to install it in short-term memory, but more than likely, it’s gone by the time the child reaches the car.
Repeating is only the first step. Repeating the verse gives you a sense of the rhythm, alerts you to key words, and helps you plan your strategy of attack on memorizing.
Relate. Explore the verse until you know what it is communicating. Read the verses that come right before and immediately after. Learn about the theme of the book where the verse is found. Add new words to your personal vocabulary. Draw it. Talk to others about what the verse means to them. Dig in and get to know the verse. Say it twice a day for two or three weeks, and each day the words will speak to you more.
Recall. Games are a great way to exercise recall. You may think that games have nothing to do with memorizing, but they interrupt the thought process, so the memorizer has to search his brain to recall the verse.
It’s like strengthening a muscle. When you have to find the verse in your brain again, you need to recall it, which means you have to find the picture you drew or recall the trigger word that gets you started, or relate the theme of the book to the verse you’re searching for. Interruptions—playing one short round of a game—greatly strengthen the ability to recall, which therefore moves the memorization into long-term memory. 
It is much more important to recall than to repeat. Okay, read that again. Being able to pull up a verse in the middle of a totally different activity is more important than saying it 10 times, over and over. You memorize when you practice recalling, not when you repeat. This is preparation for those times when you’re in the middle of a conversation and want to share a verse. That’s the ultimate recall! At the beginning, it’s important to repeat the verse until it’s at least partially contained in short-term memory; then, the process moves to being able to recall what is there.
If you want to memorize Scripture,
practice RECALLING, not repeating!

Review. You’ll never keep scripture memorized if you don’t review it. It’s important that you provide games and opportunities for kids to go over verses they learned previously. Review can get quite time-consuming once you’ve got a great number of verses memorized. They will fade from your memory, though, if you don’t set aside a time—maybe once every six weeks—to go through them. Personally, I use one of my memorization time periods each week for review and during that time I don’t try to learn anything new. (My long-term memory needs lots of assistance!)
You can get all kinds of games and activities to use with Scripture memorization in my brand new book called Hiding the Word in My Heart. Call 765.271.7055 to get your copy. The book also includes 14 KEYS to memorizing, how to get past the excuses, and a 6-week set of lesson plans if you’d like to lead a group through memorizing a large portion of scripture.   
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After 33 incredible years in children’s ministry within the local church, Tina is now part of the KidzMatter team as Executive Editor of KidzMatter Magazine and Senior Publications Director, writing the This iKnow kids’ church curriculum. With great enthusiasm, she gallivants all over the country to train those who share her passion for reaching kids for the Kingdom. Tina has authored 12 books, one of which is used as a textbook in some universities (but it’s not boring, really).