Can we really expect a 4-year-old to recite the memory verse two hours after he heard it in your small group on Sunday morning?
Can we expect a 2-year-old to properly pronounce all of those words so that Mom and Dad understand what she is saying?
Yes and, well, yes—at least some of the words with a little help!
First let’s think about why we want our little ones to memorize verses from the Bible. In general, memories connect our past to our present to our future. Memory is the tool we use to form, record and store meaningful information. So, our responsibility is to make a verse meaningful and relevant so it will be stored away and retrieved at a useful time in the future.
What can we expect? We can expect that we, the leaders, will need to make the verse appealing to our preschoolers by including movement (hopping, clapping, dancing), a chant (repetition or rhyme), a craft or a combination of these approaches. In this way you are developing a memory strategy. And, our expectations of how many words can be effectively memorized should be realistic. Try the simple ratio of 1:2 – if a child is 2-years-old, he can memorize 4 words. When he is 4-years-old, a memory verse with 8 words will be achievable.
We can also expect that parents will need to have the memory verse to take home to review, sing, and move along with the words. It is frustrating to a 3-year-old who is trying very hard to tell Grandma about her verse from church and Grandma just doesn’t quite get it. Some type of written version made available to take or send home solves that problem (give them a memory verse card, send an e-mail or post on a parents’ web page).
Most importantly, we can expect that, when a memory verse is offered in an engaging and interactive way, our preschoolers will store it away and retrieve it when they most need it. Like a favorite blankie or stuffed animal, it will be there to provide comfort and strength.