I remember the class vividly. It was a group of high schoolers who were trying to memorize large sections of the Old Testament. Some kids did well, others did not. Here’s the remarkable part: their success in memory was directly tied to their use of motions.
You might laugh at seeing 17 year olds who just scored 1300+ on their SAT using motions for rote memory, but you shouldn’t. It’s a simple principle: motions make it memorable. Parents – when is the last time you heard the song, “Lord I Lift Your Name on High”? Once you get started with the motions on the chorus, it won’t matter how long it’s been. I promise you the words will roll off your tongue.
Kids Need Motions Too
This isn’t limited to adults and teenagers. Our five year old recently came home with Psalm 25:20 memorized, motions and all. She was so excited that decided to teach it to our three year old. The video below is with ZERO review from mom and dad with either child. Psalm 25:20, “Guard my heart and rescue me. Do not let me be put to shame.”
Here’s the fact: motions make it memorable. And as Jen Wilkin often reminds us, “The heart cannot love what the mind does not know.” What do you want your kids to love? Start using motions to help them know that thing.
How do we use motions to help our kids memorize Scripture? There are lots of ways, but here are four simple principles.
4 Principles for Memorizing with Motions
Move the Whole Body
Moving our entire body helps us remember things. We often say this is a principle of elementary education, but it’s true for all ages. Find motions that let your kids stand up, spin around, and engage their whole body.
Motion for the sake of motion puts a cap on retaining information. In the video above, did you see the “motion” for shame? It was putting your head down and covering your eyes. Motions should communicate the message you are remembering. This is being strategic in your use of motions.
Involve the Kids in the Process
Sure, you could spend 20 minutes devising the perfect set of motions. But why not give the kids some ownership? They will have a blast in the process, but it goes deeper than that. When they have ownership in the process, they begin to connect that the Bible is for them. When we dictate all the terms, they will understand themselves to be pawns in a larger game. I want my kids to take ownership of learning the Bible. You should too. Involve them in the process.
If it’s a drudgery, it won’t stick. Be silly with your kids. If family devotions turns into World War 3, don’t feel bad about postponing until the next night. Going into Drill Sergeant mode might win the battle, but it doesn’t help you win the war. As the old adage goes, “time flies when you’re having fun.” 30 minutes of reviewing Scripture can fly by when you aren’t too proud to be silly with your kids.
Motions make it memorable. They can’t love what they don’t know. Help them love Jesus by helping them know His Word.
Here’s your assignment: post a video in the comments with your kids using motions to remember a verse or song!
This is the fourth article in a series on how Parkside Bible Church (Brownsburg, IN) views Family Ministry. Be sure to check out the prior articles, “Kids: Acorns or Oak Trees?“, “3 Barriers to Your Kids Loving Jesus“, and “The Power of Story“.