Monday, January 31, 2011

What Works For Us: Family Scripture Study

We have tried several different ways of studying the scriptures as a family, but could never get the kids to sit still and never got into really good habits until this year. Since I was always looking for ideas, I thought I would share what has finally worked for us. I know it won't work for everyone, and please don't feel like I am saying this is what everyone should do, but here you go:

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.

*We pretty much let Ollie do whatever he wants. Sometimes he even watches Dora on Chad's i-pod so that he will be quiet and calm. For now, this is part of what makes it all work :o)

A few things that don't work well with this method:
*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!


Olivia Carter said...

Lovely post! great ideas!

We've been doing it before breakfast & have run into the same problems you listed, so thanks for the advice- we're gonna try this FOR SURE!

Em said...

We are doing the five verses before bed. It's going just ok. Brennan doesn't pay attention and max doesn't know what's going on either, so we just do our best to get the action done:) that way we already have the habit when it really counts!

Gaynelle said...

We used to read out of the easy readers, but our kids all wanted to see the pictures at the same time. One book four kids didnt work. Now that we are getting older kids and two of them have their own scriptures we take turns reading verses of one chapter eight before bed. My kids tend to get somber if they have to sit for any amount of time. It works for us.

Ashley said...

We have the same books and now I read to the kids in the middle of the day. I know it would be better if we read with Roy too, but there just isn't enough time when he gets home from work - and like you said - the kids are so dang hyper. I usually read to them during Isaac's nap. They have time to ask questions and sometimes Rae takes the book afterwards and reads a bit on her own. It is a nice way to help us all calm down a bit in the middle of the day and help me be nicer to the kids. If we are out running errands during the day then I try to remember to have Roy read to them in the evening.

That is awesome that Gabe can read it from the book. I might have Rae start looking up the story in the regular scriptures. Since the primary theme is about scriptures this year, she is really into her regular Book of Mormon.

Lyric said...

We always read after dinner as kids...but like you said, with sports and stuff, when it gets busy, it's hard to stay consistent!

Christie said...

Yeah, I've gotten as far as thinking about it. Actually, it keeps popping into my head the past month or so; guess I really need to do something about it. We have the books...just gotta find them. Ugh. I think I might do something in the middle of the day for now, like Ashley. James just found out he has to take on another class (that's 10!) so doing it with him just isn't going to happen until summer!

lindsey said...

So far we haven't found anything to work, but thats mainly because our oldest is 3... we do try to sit down with her and have talks about different concepts in the gospel and I am always so surprised by how much she already knows. I loved teaching her class on Sunday... she answered every question and wanted to say the prayer, so I was pretty proud :) I think we will work on a little more scripture study between Mayan's bedtime and Lily's.