Friday, February 21, 2014

Scripture Study with Little Kids

In 2008 we had our fifth child, our oldest was seven.  We were exhausted. :)  We had a desire to share the scriptures with our kids, and to have regular Family Home Evenings- but it seemed so daunting, especially because the kids couldn't even read the scriptures, and at FHE they just wanted to play Ring-Around-the-Rosy.  Four of those five kids were rambunctious boys.  I was so encouraged that year when I heard this exchange of thoughts:

2008 Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Roundtable Discussion  (click to listen)

(It's all great, but if you just want to hear about family scripture study with little kids start at minute 35:00 of the Roundtable Discussion.)

If you haven't listened to it yet I'll paraphrase just a small section of it:  Julie Beck said that recently a young mother had approached her.  This mother shared that she had four children under the age of six, and that they were trying to faithfully read their scriptures as a family each day, but that it wasn't going well. (She tells the story better than I do.)  Sister Beck asked the mother how long they were reading each day and the mother responded that their goal was to read for ten minutes each day.  Sister Beck told her that with her young audience that she was probably shooting for about eight minutes too long, and that she would probably have better luck just showing a picture of Adam and Eve and telling her kids about them.

I cried when I heard this.  I had been so overwhelmed with the idea of perfection that just sharing pictures and telling stories sounded so incredibly manageable.   We simplified our expectations for Family Home Evening too- ten minutes of songs, stories, a prayer and a treat became a tradition that our kids looked forward to, and that we could manage to do even when we were exhausted or unprepared.  

So at breakfast each morning my sweet husband shares a little from one of the following books:

We leave this open to the story he shared all day so the kids can enjoy the pictures that go along with the story later in the day. 

Hopefully having a basic understanding of the stories in the scriptures will help them to better find the doctrines and personal revelation that they will need as adults.  

We have been promised that greater peace will prevail in our homes when we are studying the Book of Mormon as a family.  We have felt that even as we have shared these simple stories. 
 Recently we allowed our six year old to take this book down to his room because he had a desire to look at the pictures before bed.  I went down to his room the other day to find the book in tatters.  Nearly every page was badly bent, some right in half.  Because of all the bent pages the book couldn't be closed properly.  I decided to give my son a quick lesson on treating the scriptures with more respect.  I started by asking him why he had bent so many of the pages.  He replied that he was just marking the stories that he wanted his dad to read to him before bed.  I stopped my words, and learned a great lesson about respecting the scriptures from him that night.

This is a great tool for teaching church history!

I thought that when my husband got to some pages he would skip them.  But he didn't.   Not a single page.  We had some great discussions about time management, tobacco cessation programs and organizing a baptism that I probably would have skipped.  I'm glad that he didn't.   This also provided a lot of opportunities to share his mission stories and bear testimony of the importance of sharing the Gospel!

  This is a great resource because our kids love to see the pictures.  

The books are inexpensive, and the illustrated scripture ones are available online for free.  The Gospel Art Book is less than $5 and is a great place to start!  

It's been nearly six years since we started our simple scripture study at breakfast.  We have been through each book more than once and we can see what a blessing it has been for our kids.  

We are grateful for Sister Beck's unofficial permission to keep our family scripture study simple enough to be enjoyed by our young children.  We are also grateful that our Father in Heaven sends His Spirit to be in our home as we try to share the gospel with our children, even in simple ways.   

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