Today we are sharing some great ideas from our guest author Martha, a former Primary President and mother to 6 adorable children, and Kim, Primary President, outdoorswoman, and mother of five.
Martha says: It’s that time of year! Anyone out there looking for Nursery to Sunbeams transition ideas? Here are a few things we have done in our ward.
This year we have tried to help prepare our Nursery children for the transition to Sunbeams in a couple of ways. First, we have them join the Junior Primary for singing time during the months of November and December. We make a big deal out of welcoming them, sing songs they know and love, and count down the weeks until they become Sunbeams. Some are uncertain to begin with, but they all seem really excited to come in now. Secondly, we have had the Nursery class move to a small classroom during their lesson time, and encourage them to sit nicely and practice being attentive in a classroom environment. This year we will also use a Nursery Leader who has been serving for a few months move up and become a Sunbeam Teacher. We’re hopeful that a familiar face will make the transition smoother.
My own son started Sunbeams a year ago, and had a big struggle adjusting. He missed the cars in nursery! After a few very rough weeks I found the key to helping him was to make sure I framed Primary attendance as a privilege that he would earn as he behaved in a way that qualified him to be there (of course, the alternative had to be worse, like sitting quietly in the car with me). When he saw Primary as the place he wanted to be, his perspective totally shifted, and so did his behavior. I am so thankful because he had a wonderful year of Sunbeams that has started him off on the right foot in Primary. Of course, as Primary leaders, we will not be taking any children out to sit in a car. But, my experience highlights the importance of positively and actively engaging parents of children struggling with transition (which the Sunbeam teacher did in our case). If you ask parents to help you make a plan to make Primary attendance a positive and rewarding experience for their child, they will be part of the team, and are likely to have some good ideas. Like Kindergarten, Sunbeams can have a big influence in setting the tone for many future years of Primary experience. It is worth getting right!
Guest author Kim adds: Our ward had sixteen (count ‘em, SIXTEEN) new Sunbeams at once. Rather than having them sit on the front row as is the custom, we had them sit on the second row, so they’d be corralled in a bit. Having the classes sit in age order was not as important as containing sixteen wandering new Sunbeams.
We also jump right into opening prayer, singing time and sharing time, leaving the talk and scripture for after sharing time. That way, if the Sunbeams have had enough, we can dismiss them to classes and do the talk and scripture with the remaining children. A little flexibility and a lot of love go a long way in easing the Nursery-to-Sunbeams transition.