Decades ago, it was commonplace for families to sit around the table after dinner and read from the Bible together. Now, we have a variety of "entertainment" at our instant command distracting us from the important lessons that lie within the Holy Scriptures. Regardless of your faith, there are lots of reasons to reclaim this family tradition.
Here are the 5 Ws + 1 H of family scripture study:
When my children were still at home, our practice was to read as a family before school. Then, in the evening before bed, my husband and I read as a couple and then as individuals. By studying alone, we could better focus on and comprehend what we were reading and then as a couple, we could discuss answers to potential questions from the children.
Study whatever your scriptures are whether it be the Holy Bible in one of its many versions, the Talmud, the Tanakh, the Quran, the Book of Mormon, Tao Te Ching or other doctrinal teachings. Read the books of your faith as a family to fortify the teachings. If your faith has a magazine with articles, read it also and use the lessons found inside.
Leaving the teaching of your beliefs up to teachers once or twice a week at church may not be enough for your children. Reinforce your faith by going over the lessons your family learned in church and then adding upon them through scripture study.
Choose a spot where it is most comfortable if your kids are older or where it is most contained if your kids are younger. I think the family dinner table is the ideal place as the lighting is usually better, they don't have the opportunity to recline and feign sleep (not that my kids ever did that!) and there is a place to place your teaching materials and a copy for each child.
Choosing a study time that best fits your family. I liked, "putting on the armor of God," as we call it, before my family went out into the world for the day. You can decide what time works for your clan: pre-bedtime, after dinner, or whatever suits you.
This is where it gets fun. Straight forward reading is important, but making what you read more understandable can be achieved in a number of different ways:
Use puppets to act out different stories.
Use flannel boards with cut-outs.
Let the kids dress up and re-enact stories you've studied.
Cross-reference different topics.
Do scripture chases where you give your kids the keywords to a particular passage and they race to find it.
Play games with the scriptures: List every name that begins with the letter M; find examples of geography or math; or list places beginning with every letter of the alphabet.
Make charts and hand out stars for reading or explaining scripture passages.
Give out certificates of completion.
Read by candlelight.
Serve a snack of food described in the scriptures (unleavened bread, figs, etc.)
Have children make posters or pictures of what you've studied.
Play charades with different people from the scriptures.
Play Hangman with some tough scriptural words.
Read one verse of scripture each as you go around the table.
Have everyone keep a scripture journal of what they've learned from study each day.
Keep a family journal so everyone can share their thoughts.
Invite guest speakers occasionally who are experts on a particular topic you may have studied.
There are lots of ways to vitalize scripture teachings and make them personal and important to your family. Use different methods until you find what works best for your family or switch them up and keep the kids guessing. You may meet complete resistance to the practice of family scripture study initially. Persevere and use rewards until it becomes habit. Don't give up. In time, it will work and strengthen your family.