The Importance of Memorization in the Elementary Years

Memory work is so important in the grammar stages of education (kindergarten-6th grade). Classical education places a high premium on memory work in the early years of school. Children have a capacity to memorize huge amounts of information at this stage. Over the last two years, I’ve made it a priority to make memory work a focus of our school day.

We use a modified Charlotte-mason-style memory box to keep track of our memory work and ensure we are reviewing enough. We do memory time 4 days a week (Tuesday through Friday), but we also review our newest catechism question and Bible verse at night as a family too.

What’s in Our Memory Box This Year?

Poetry: We are using poems from Institute for Excellence in Writing’s Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization. Last year, we memorized the first 9 Level A poems. The hope is to memorize the remaining 10 Level A poems this year. I don’t think it will be a problem since Bradley has already started the third one! He is enjoying the poetry.

Bible: I’ve written before about how and why we memorize Scripture. As I’ve explained before, even when our kids are pre-school age we like to memorize chapters or big chunks of the Bible. This year we are working on Phillipians 2:1-18. We’re 5 verses in, but I’m looking forward to getting to verse 14…you know, the part about grumbling and complaining, that will have some good application in this house! When we finish this Luke and I will figure out what the fam should work on next!

Catechism: The Westminster Shorter Catechism is a fantastic tool for systematically training your children in major Biblical doctrine. I love that Biblical proof texts are included with each question and answer. At some point, this will make a good Bible study with the kids. For now, I am focusing on having Bradley memorize the catechism. This year Bradley is starting at question 27 and I’m hoping he can get through at least the next dozen. I’d also like to see Cameron begin memorizing the first few questions too.

Apostles Creed: This is not something we’ve added yet, because it’s something I just recently decided would be a good thing for Bradley (and me) to memorize!

Multiplication & Division Facts: There are a few of these still in our box this year, the ones that Bradley still gets tripped up on. I find helping kids with fact memorization to be a tedious chore. I’m so glad we were able to use Times Tales to make most of the multiplication and division easier. I can’t wait to put these things to rest soon…except I have another little squirt who will need to start his fact memorization soon!

What’s Missing From Our Memory Box

Last year we put more things in our memory box: phone numbers, addresses, Latin words, and more. By the end of the year, memory time was taking way too much time and it wasn’t a pleasant experience for Bradley or me. I decided to scale back some this year and I’m glad I did.

Bradley still has a number of other things he is memorizing as parts of other subjects, but they are things I feel he gets adequate review to commit them to memory in other ways. We use Veritas Press Bible and History. I am so impressed with how this curriculum assists students in memorizing major biblical and historical events and people along with dates and Bible references.

We are still plugging away at Latin, but we don’t include vocabulary flash cards in our memory box. It is my hope that we will continue to increase our vocabulary using a more organic approach – lots of reading and listening to Latin.

I used to think memory time would be a peripheral part of the school day, that we would get to it if we had time, but I’ve come to see it as a vital component to educating my children!

Do you have memory time with your kids? I’d love to hear about your memory work goals!

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4 thoughts on “The Importance of Memorization in the Elementary Years

  1. My kids have memory work with our Bible class and through our Awana program. I love watching them learn and memorize God’s word! Thanks for sharing and linking up at SHH 🙂

  2. We use the Charlotte Mason memory box system too. I really love it, but do wonder if it will still be a good option as we add more subjects. maybe I’ll just need to have multiple boxes with different subjects in them. Right now we do memory first thing in the morning. We are doing Bible verses, poems, and other facts that have to do with what we are studying. Thanks for sharing what you guys do with us at Trivium Tuesdays!

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