Learning by Heart

Download Learning By Heart Memory Work

The Learning By Heart (LBH) Tenets

  1. Committing Scripture to memory has always been a significant part of Christian education. Jesus wants us to be as familiar with the word of God as we are with the food we eat: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4.4) We learn the word of God in different ways. We read it, talk about, picture it with art and music, and especially, we commit into our hearts.
  2. The “Learning by Heart” files provide a framework for learning many of the foundational Scriptures as well as Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. Each level is graded and builds successively until the students are familiar with approximately 150 Bible passages and the Small Catechism by the sixth grade. (Some parents not familiar with Luther’s Small Catechism might indicate some disinterest for learning the Catechism. In this case gently remind them that the Small Catechism is 70% Scripture. The remaining 30% is very close to actual Scripture passages.)
  3. Each file also contains certain Key Passages in bold print (as well as the Catechism passages). We would like each class to especially focus (review, review, review) on these Key Passages so that by the end of the year they can remember them all without prompting! By sixth grade the students will have the Catechism firmly memorized as well as 21 Key Passages (three each year). There is a list of all the Key Passages for each grade at the end of each file.
  4. Learning by Heart is based on the New King James translation. Please stick to this translation so that students can build on their learning from one year to the next. The NKJ is a literal translation that condenses the Bible passage and often is easier to memorize. Sometimes there may be difficult words that need to be learned. That is part of the learning process. Please explain the meaning of all passages when you assign them. If you have a question, please e-mail me.We use the New International Version for reading. This is a dynamic equivalent translation that tends to expand the Bible passage for quicker understanding and reading. But the more expanded the translation the more difficult it is to remember. Compare memorizing a newspaper article and the Gettysburg Address. The Gettysburg Address is easier to memorize because each word is packed with meaning. A newspaper article is difficult to memorize because it is “unpacked” to be easier to read.We would like all our children to be good Bible students, therefore it is important that they be familiar with both types of translations and understand the value of each. As they go on with their lives they may prefer to learn by heart in any number of other translations. The literal translation is always a good place to begin.
  5. One of the most important aspects of “Learning by Heart” is the commitment of the teacher. The only way we can successfully lead our students in this endeavor is if we have learned by heart the very same Bible passages as well as the Catechism. Please commit yourself to the same learning goal!
  6. Different students have different abilities in this area. Please view the “Learning by Heart” program as the minimum goals for all students of average learning ability. Gifted students may need to be challenged with additional Learning by Heart goals. Students with learning difficulties may need a little extra help, or, in special cases, a lighter assignment. Teachers need to use their judgment.
  7. Since this learning effort pertains to the holiest of all things—the word of God. Take care to avoid letting this become an onerous and distasteful experience for the kids. Talk about the meaning of the passages. Try creative ways of remembering. Use positive reinforcement as much as possible. Nevertheless, it is always important to understand that Satan is very opposed to learning Scripture by heart. Along with the sinful flesh and the world, we can expect a lot of opposition. Prayer, persistence, and positive encouragement are always needed.

Key Passages

Kindergarten: Psalm 119.105; Psalm 50.15; Matthew 5.48
First Grade: Romans 8.28; Romans 1:16; Romans 1:17
Second Grade: Matthew 6:33; John 8:31; 1 John 1:7
Third Grade: John 3:16; Acts 4:12; Matthew 5:16
Fourth Grade: Romans 13:10; 1 John 3:15; Psalm 51:5
Fifth Grade: John 11:25; Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 John 1:8
Sixth Grade: Isaiah 55:11; Acts 2:42; 1 Peter 4:8