Helping Children Love the Scriptures

    By Elizabeth Pinborough

    As a parent, you probably wish your family could have been with the Savior when He was among the Nephites and “took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them” (3 Nephi 17:21). Isn’t that what we all want for our children? For them to experience the Savior and be blessed by Him in a significant and personal way?

    Well, the truth is, we can in fact help our children have a powerful experience with the Savior. We may not be able to feel the nail prints in His hands, but we can open and study the scriptures together and feel the Savior’s love and the power of His spirit.

    The question is, how do we do this when our kids are squirming impatiently during Come, Follow Me each week?

    No worries. Here are four tips to help them feel the power of the scriptures.

    1. Make family study a priority.

    When you’re trying to keep your family going every day, with meals and work and service and school, it can be easy to let spiritual habits get pushed aside.

    But once you start making scripture study a priority in your home, blessings come. Everything else seems to get done or becomes less of a priority. That’s because scriptures give clarity, purpose, hope, and direction.

    Remember, you don’t need to read a whole chapter in a day to be blessed by scripture power. Making scriptures a regular part of life in smaller bites will help everyone feel the Spirit. As the scriptures themselves say: “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6).

    Tip: Invite your child to pick a favorite scripture and put it where they’ll see it. If they're old enough, invite them to memorize it. You can do the same.

    2. Set a personal example.

    Very young children learn what’s important simply by observing you. If your eyes are frequently on the scriptures, they’ll notice. They’ll begin to place value on what you value. Likewise, if you voice your positive feelings about the scriptures and find natural ways to testify of the scriptures, your children will notice that too.

    3. Make it a connection event.

    Love radiates from what we read in the scriptures. Scripture study should do the same. Try not to think of it as a task to check off from your to-do list, but rather as an opportunity to express love to your children. By doing so, children will look forward to scripture study as a way to connect with you. They’ll learn to associate those feelings of love with the scriptures, and their own love for the scriptures will grow.

    4. Adapt study to their age.

    Not every child can sit for 30 minutes to read and reflect deeply. Create ways to make the scriptures accessible to each learner in your house. For a three-year-old, scripture time might look like playing a game or acting out a story. For an older child, it might mean using dictionaries to look up unfamiliar words or discussing life’s challenges and how the scriptures can help them. For children who have a hard time getting started on their own, consider reading out loud with them.

    Tools like goal calendars and timers can keep your older children on track and help them develop focus, attention, organization, and planning. Helping your child set gospel study goals will encourage their spiritual independence.

    5. Invite the Spirit.

    The power of the scriptures is manifest through the Holy Ghost, who carries the truths of God as found in the scriptures unto your children’s hearts (see 2 Nephi 31:1-2).

    To help invite the Spirit, ask your children questions that encourage them to apply the scriptures to their lives. Share a personal story that increased your faith. Bear testimony. Express gratitude for the Savior. Consider singing a hymn that has special significance for your family.

    There are a multitude of other ways to study the scriptures that will invite the power of God into your home. It may not be easy at first, and it may take some dedication. But your children will be stronger to face the day when they are armed with the word of God and the influence of the Holy Ghost.

    Tip: Encourage your children to pray before studying the scriptures so they can be prepared to have the Spirit enlighten their minds.

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