We have had reader requests for an article (or two) about how to use the scriptures in our homeschools. After talking to people who homeschool across the country about what has worked for them and what resources they have used, I have decided that this really falls in to two different categories. This month I will cover daily devotional and the early years of scripture studies. These are not all my ideas, and I certainly don’t claim to have superior knowledge, but I do know lots of people with ideas and experience.
There are many ways families choose to do their Devotionals. Most of the homeschoolers that I know feel strongly that this is an important part of their school day. But there are as many ways to do Devotionals as there are families. Most do their Devotionals in the mornings, but a few choose evenings because it fits their family schedule better. What is included in Devotional varies from family to family as well. For my family it varies from year to year and depends on what we are studying, the ages of my children and whether I have a new baby or toddlers.
Some families sing a hymn that they learn through the week (or month), then recite the Pledge of Allegiance and their family mission statement before they start to read the scriptures. Others just read and pray. A few practice memorizing poetry or scriptures.
The choice of the book of scripture varies with families as well. Some just read the Book of Mormon, others read through the standard works without caring how long it takes, just as long as they are reading. Others follow the outline of the Sunday School lessons. A fourth option is to read what their children are reading in Seminary. What is most important is that we are reading and discussing the scriptures with our children.
Once the scriptures are read some families take the time to read a family book since everyone is together. Our family has read classics, books about the founding fathers, or books that are part of our history studies. We just enjoy books.
Parents sometimes struggle with juggling their teens reading of Sunday School lessons, Seminary reading schedule and personal time reading the Book of Mormon. It is a bit of a juggle, but it can be done. One thing to keep in mind is time spent reading the scriptures is never wasted. If we are raising a generation of scripture scholars who know the scriptures in their hearts and in their minds then personal scripture reading has to be part of their school day. Setting the patterns early makes this an easier transition, but even starting the habit with older kids is beneficial.
Some seminary students split their reading time, spending 15 minutes reading from the Seminary reading, then 15 minutes reading the Book of Mormon. Others read the Seminary reading in the morning, then the Book of Mormon before bed. Life is certainly easier the years they are studying the Book of Mormon in Seminary! Others listen to the scriptures on CD or Mp3 while they do other things.
What do you do with little ones? I have learned that just having my youngest ones “hang around” while we do Devotional is not enough. They need their own personal scripture study too. The Scripture Readers are perfect. They are short, visual and easy to have the little one tell the story back to you. Reading the Friend together and using the Gospel Pictures to read and have them recite back the stories are other ideas that have worked for me.
Once my children are a little older and starting to want to read I love using “The Storied Scriptures” by Penny Gardner. She went through the scriptures and referenced all the stories in the scriptures which make it easy to read with or to your elementary aged child. They are available at www.schoolofabraham.com . The year my children are turning 8 we read and mark a Book of Mormon with all the stories. As we read we talk about the scriptures and principles the contain. I know that when they are baptized they know why they are being baptized and what is in the Book of Mormon. It is also great one on one time.
For personal studies I have my older elementary children read the Scripture Readers out loud to younger siblings, and also do their own personal reading using the Storied Scriptures. As they get older they ease into reading the scriptures in less structured ways.
The most important thing we can do is to have our children immersed in the scriptures daily and as deeply as their minds and hearts are ready. The world is moving quickly to a morally challenging place that will try the souls of our children. The best protection is early and profound engagement in the scriptures to help them develop strong, steadfast testimonies that will survive the teen years and the world around them. It is never too early to start!
Next month we will talk about how to make the gospel a part of your learning throughout the day and list some resources that help make the job a little easier. We will also touch on some ideas for teens.
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