How We Organize Memory Work

When we first began memorizing poems and scripture, I realized that my children were not recalling passages they had memorized from previous terms because I didn’t have a systematic way to review older passages.  I didn’t want to use a card file system because young children easily mix up the cards or drop them. Plus, it needed it to be simple enough that the children could know what to do even if I wasn’t available at times.  This is how I solved that problem.

I give each child a narrow binder and write MEMORY WORK on it.  I place one divider in it labeled  “PREVIOUS PASSAGES.”

In front of this divider I put the assigned memory work for the present term (inside of page protectors). This would include a passage from the Psalms, another Scripture passage and a poem. (I let my children choose the poetry passages they wish to memorize. It must be something they enjoy.)   Older students also include some Shakespeare.

At the beginning of each term, I simply do a Google search for the memory work passages, make the font larger and print it out for my younger children.  This takes 5 minutes.  Older children type their passages as part of their personal recitation and typing practice during the week.

I schedule memory work daily for just 5 to 10 minutes.  Usually, it looks something like this:

Monday- Psalm, folksong

Tuesday- Scripture passage, poem

Wednesday-Psalm, hymn

Thursday- Scripture passage, poem

Friday- review previous passages

Now, during those five minutes, I read aloud the passage to my child slowly. Then I reread a short section we are working on. My child repeats it until he/she can say it perfectly-usually two or three times.  That’s all we do.  If it is a song, we sing it together (accompanied with music from the computer), focusing on just one verse that week. We keep it very short and enjoyable.  Older students do this on their own.

At the start of a new term, I take out the passages from the previous term and place them behind the divider.  Then I place the current term’s passages in the front.

On Fridays, during group time, we review just ONE passage from the past. We don’t skip around, but go in order, using a sticky note to mark where we left off.  In this way, my children continue to revisit older passages, while learning new ones as well.

One of my daughters graduated from High School this year and I looked through her memory work binder that she kept since she was six years old.  She learned 36 Psalms, 54 lengthy Bible passages from the Old and New Testaments, 45 poems that are now very dear to her heart, several lengthy passages from Shakespeare, The Gettysburg Address, all the books of the Bible, every King and Queen of England, important dates in history, as well as other items we thought were important for her to know.  She can still quote most of these passages today. She looks back on her memory work with fondness, because it forced her to discipline her mind to learn important passages that have been a deep source of encouragement to her and, no doubt, will continue to be so.

one step at a time,