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Scriptures in a Child's Heart

Home is the perfect place to put the scriptures in a child’s heart. We can make the scriptures an integral part of our educational program and our daily family life. I admire what Charlotte Mason, a British educationalist around the turn of the last century, had to say about scriptures and how she suggested we make the most of them in our child’s education.

Charlotte Mason wanted us to use the real scriptures, not a watered-down children’s version. She recommended the King James’ Version, although you may use whatever version you prefer. Miss Mason said, “The rhythm and cadence of Biblical phraseology is as charming to a child as to his elders… Read your Bible story to the child, bit by bit; get him to tell you in his own words what you have read.” (Charlotte Mason Study Guide, p. 97)

She didn’t recommend reading the Bible from cover to cover but instead to read episodes. An episode is a brief section that tells a story. I went through the Old and New Testaments and came up with a list of episodes that may be read in one sitting and then narrated by the child. Feel free to adapt these list by skipping or adding stories as you see fit.

I keep my list folded in quarters in our Bible, using it as a bookmark, and check off each episode as we read it. I encourage my older children to read scriptures on their own using the list.

Charlotte Mason wrote: “Now our objective in this most important part of education is to give the children the knowledge of God. We need not go into the question of intuitive knowledge, but the expressed knowledge attainable by us has its source in the Bible, and perhaps we cannot do a greater indignity to children than to substitute our own or some other benevolent person’s rendering for the fine English, poetic diction and lucid statement of the Bible. Literature at its best is always direct and simple and a normal child of six listens with delight to the tales both of Old and New Testament read to him passage by passage…” (CMSG, p. 99)

Copy work teaches penmanship, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar, usage, and vocabulary. Copy work should be from only the best literature to help develop the writer in the child. What better literature is there than the scriptures? We have Bible verses copied into our art appreciation notebook and our nature notebooks, as well as our individual notebooks or journals that we use for copy work.

Dictation is another aspect of a Charlotte Mason education that works beautifully with the scriptures. One year I dictated Luke 2:7-14 to my sons. We read the entire passage in unison each day before writing our verse for the day. This helped the boys memorize the passage and brought a wonderful spirit of Christmas to our home.

To internalize these Bible stories, have your child narrate after each reading. My children have a collection of their narrations of Bible stories—these are real keepsakes.

A timeline book is a fun, effective way to keep historical events from jumbling all together. As you read about an event or person, record it in the correct place. This helps us form relationships and make sense of world.

For instance, by looking at my book of centuries…
 I see that Ester saved the Jews just a half dozen years before the Battle of Thermopylae where 1,000 Greek soldiers tried to stop two million Persians led by Ester’s husband, Xerxes. And I see that Hippocrates and Confusius were alive during this time, as well.

With a book of centuries, it doesn’t matter if your reading is chronological. By putting events in the correct page of your books, everything stays in place. A book of centuries is a fun project for families who want to record scriptural events with other historical events.

So we see that using these educational practices of copy work, dictation, narration, recitation, and book of centuries not only apply to academic areas but also to the scriptures. Listening to scriptures and using them as part of your reading program put scriptures in a child’s heart. Using scriptures for copy work and dictation make handwriting and language arts more meaningful. Copy work and dictation help the child to memorize scriptures. Reciting memorized scriptures puts them in the child’s heart and mind. Narrating scriptures uncorks the child, thereby allowing Biblical truths to become part of the child. And recording scriptural events in a Book of Centuries keeps things in their proper order and helps us form relationships with the past.

All these activities may be done in your homeschool, or in private schools, in morning devotional or family night. They are easy and fun to incorporate into your family life.

And they all contribute to putting scriptures in their proper place—a child's heart and mind.

The scripture highlights from the Old Testament and the New Testament
may be shared freely with others and is not for profit.

Copyright 2002 by Penny Gardner, author of Charlotte Mason Study Guide.
This article may not be reproduced except to print out your own copy unless permission is obtained.