January Journal: Day 16



This is the second post in a series on memory work. There is no expectation or pressure that you will do as we do. I write of our experience in hopes of encouraging you to create your own Scripture memory experience in a way that works for your family.

Psalm 23 was first for Bauer. As time went on, and he and I learned more and more portions of Scripture together, I began to try different ways to keep up with our memory work practice. Check-off charts and sticker charts played a role at times, but what has ended up working best for me is to print blank calendar pages from my computer and track the verses we are working on each day.

We have a blue "Bible verse notebook" in which we keep all the printed copies of the Scriptures we have learned. The old calendar pages are filed at the back of the binder and the current calendar page stays in the front pocket. I have been saving the calendar pages since January 2013 so that's as far back as I can refer with much accuracy.

By that January, Cash, who was four and a half, was working on a Bible verse for each letter of the alphabet, plus either reviewing or learning Psalm 23, Philippians 4:6-7 and 4:12-13, and Psalm 121. It's hard for me to remember in what order the boys learned which Scriptures. The thing I'm certain on is that not only were we reviewing verses constantly, but we were also adding new passages. From the calendar pages, I can see that Bauer was working on Psalm 16 as his new passage, as well as doing lots of review of old passages.

Fast forward a couple years to early 2015, and Bauer was solid on the following:
Deuteronomy 6:4-7
Psalm 1
Psalm 16
Psalm 23
Psalm 62
Psalm 103
Psalm 121
Psalm 133:1&3b
Psalm 139:1-18
Proverbs 3:1-12
Isaiah 40:25-31
Matthew 6:25-34
John 15:1-17
Acts 17:24-28
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Ephesians 6:10-18
Philippians 2:3-11
Philippians 4:6-7 & 12-13
James 1:19-27

Cash knew about half the ones Bauer knew at this point.

We added Romans 12 over a six-and-a-half-month period from June-December 2015. Then from January-April 2016 we learned this prayer of gratitude from The Valley of Vision as a birthday gift for Gigi. My mom was the one who first shared this prayer with me, so I thought it would be so special to have the boys surprise her by saying it to her on her birthday last spring. It took us several months to add this piece, on top of what the boys were learning for school and for our home Scripture memory. But it is a beautiful prayer that I hope we remember always.

To keep it real, you should know that we would practice, practice, practice, and then every once in a while, I would simply burn out. We can't keep up this pace, I would think, so we would take a few weeks off, or I would try a different strategy, like picking just a few passages and making a sticker chart for the wall. We'd do that for a while and then I'd start worrying about all the other passages they would soon forget if we didn't keep saying them.

What eventually happened is that the boys started memory work for school, learning long passages of Scripture, and famous speeches, and both short and long poems. I realized that in order to have adequate time to invest in doing this new memory work well, it was not feasible for us to keep saying all of the passages Bauer and Cash had memorized. I finally made up my mind to let some of them go.

I also have figured out over the past year or so that in order to "maintain the memorized repertoire," as Andrew Pudewa encourages in his wonderful podcast "Nurturing Competent Communicators" (yes, I have been making headway on my continuing education list already), we needed to review previously memorized passages of Scripture, poems, prayers, and speeches at least once every two weeks.

Any more than two weeks and the kids have difficulty recalling well. Less than two weeks between practice sessions certainly doesn't hurt, but for us, the two-week window is what we've found to be the boundary for keeping the words happily settled in their memories for easy recall.

Each time we practice, we are always working on something new and something for review.  We no longer practice 5 days a week as we once did. Now it is twice a day on M/W/F (our at-home school days), plus some individual review during bathroom time. I'll talk more on that tomorrow and also explain how we actually do the memory work practice.