First, what we have tried in the past that didn't work for us:
*Reading right before bed. We would get the kids bathed and in their PJ's, and then read with them before tucking them in. This didn't work because they tend to get really rowdy at the drop of the hat during this time of the day - looking for any excuse to prolong the bedtime routine. Being calm during scripture study just became one more thing to fight them on every night.
*Reading the scripture stories online from the children's versions, as found here. This worked better than some methods, but the problem with it was that not everyone had a place to sit, and it quickly got old to stand in front of the screen. Attention spans were very limited.
*Reading one verse a night. It was better than nothing, but I just don't know how much anyone got out of it.
*Reading before school. It worked some mornings, but other mornings....woo-eee. Nope.
So, onto what does work for us:
*We now clean up the dinner table and immediately gather in our front room to read. Since we are pretty good about having dinner together every night, it is an easy transition from the table to the couch. The kids are not fighting us at that time of the evening, everyone is pretty calm, and it is easy to remember. All our study materials stay in that room so we are always prepared.
*We read from New Testament Stories (shown below), which is put into easy language and has pictures. We bought it off the LDS Online Store for $7. Gabe usually reads from the book and then Colin reads directly from the scriptures that are listed below each little section. This works well for us because the kids are hearing everything twice -first with easy to understand language, and again in scriptural language. They are both highly involved so their attention doesn't wander, and Colin gets great practice at looking up specific scriptures. We decided to do the New Testament this year because that is what is being studied in gospel doctrine, so Chad and I are studying it in more depth on our own as well.
*If we eat out, we totally forget to read.
*I don't know what we will do when sports start back up and we aren't always able to have that time free in the evening.
*When Chad travels I am pretty tired after dinner.
I think the keys here are being prepared, finding the right time, and above all, consistency - like Elder Bednar said:
Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable. But just as the yellow and gold and brown strokes of paint complement each other and produce an impressive masterpiece, so our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results. “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33). Consistency is a key principle as we lay the foundation of a great work in our individual lives and as we become more diligent and concerned in our own homes.
We are still far from perfect, and Chad and I have noticed that if we go a few nights without reading, our family starts getting pretty grumpy with each other. We are gaining a firm belief that studying together brings the Spirit into our homes, and our kids are gaining a true appreciation for scripture study.
So, tell me, what have you found that works for you? I know that I have some aunts and uncles out there who have been there/done that, so please share!