Memorization is a hot topic among educators. Some educational philosophies focus highly on memorization, especially in the younger years. Others see memorization of facts as virtually useless now that we’re in the Information Age. Some promote a system where every child must know certain facts to pass from grade to grade.
These philosophies spill over into our homes and churches. Some church programs rely heavily on memorization while others focus on “big ideas.” One parent proudly shows off his preschooler’s ability to recite poems while another parent is much more concerned that her kiddo got enough time to play outside today.
So what’s a parent to do? While I’m no education expert, here’s what how I handle memorization in our home:
Let memorization come naturally.
I’m not about to start quizzing my kiddo on her states and capitals. We don’t do flashcards. We don’t do anything formal for preschool at all, not to mention formal memorization. Yet there is much she knows; much that she’s memorized. She recognizes letters, sings numerous songs by heart, and recites large chunks of well-read books as we turn the pages.
How? Natural repetition.
We sing lots of songs. We read lots of books.
We don’t sit down and spend focused time with the objective to memorize.
But we do play. And point out letters on signs.
Because memorization that comes naturally lasts. As a kid, I loved music. I listened to it over and over. And to this day, I can still sing almost every song I could sing as a kid. Many of these songs were Bible verses put to music. I can’t tell you how valuable these songs have been to me as I reflect on the truth of God’s Word and pass it on to my daughter.
It’s not that I think certain things aren’t worth memorizing. I do. I tend to agree with the thought that many facts can easily be found in books or the internet so they aren’t necessary to memorize. If something is worth knowing, there’s a reason for it. I know certain math facts and formulas because I got sick of looking them up every time I needed them to do a problem. A natural need leads to natural remembering.
I know certain Bible verses and poems because they are valuable and inspiring and worth reading over and over. Or putting on my white board to look at several times day. A natural desire leads to natural memorization.
There were other things I memorized as a kid. Hastily. Because I was told to. To get points for clubs at church. And while I do remember some of it, I don’t remember nearly as much as when I memorized without even knowing it.
So while I want my kiddo to memorize Bible verses and songs and eventually classic poems and math facts, I don’t necessarily want her to think she’s memorizing anything. Memorization implies hard work. I’d rather these become such a part of her natural life that one day she realizes she just knows them.
What are your thoughts about memorization?