Instead of “What’s wrong with you,” we ask “What happened to you?”

Hannah, Marci and Damiana. Photo by David J. Weinstein

I’m honored to have been invited to contribute to TutoringMadePersonal! While this blog is devoted to tutoring children in the public or private school setting, I think it applies to children in any circumstance, including at church and at home.

“Eating a healthy breakfast, respecting religious customs and addressing childhood trauma can all improve academic performance. Instead of saying, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ we say, ‘What happened to you?'” says Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, California’s first surgeon general.

“When a student is underperforming or poorly behaved, could they just be hungry? Could there be more to their life than meets the eye?” And what’s a teacher to do?

Check out the whole post at Teaching the Whole Person – Breakfast, Religion, Trauma and All.


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December Cub Pack Meeting: suggested plan for commemorating the end of the Scouting connection

photo by Pierrette, cake to the left by Seville, Pinewood Derby racecar Twinkies by Ted

Let’s make that last Cub Pack Meeting special! In December the Church ends its connection with the Boy Scouts of America and launches its new Children and Youth Program in January 2020.

Download a suggested plan for the Last Pack Meeting of All Time as a pdf or word document: Last Pack Meeting of All Time.

Feel free to customize for your boys. It includes interviewing each boy to ask him one thing he would like to remember from Cub Scouting: something he learned or a favorite activity or memory.

It also includes this timeline of the relationship between the Church and Scouting (1913-2019), the reasons for discontinuing it from the statement in May 2018, and these tender farewell comments by Elder Ronald A. Rasband at the Scouting Gala.

The relationship between the Church and BSA may be ending, but the character built and lessons learned by generations of boys and men will never end. Neither will our undying gratitude for Scouting leaders, sung and unsung, for their countless hours of selfless service and love for the boys. “Thank you” doesn’t begin to say it.


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When did I realize where my testimony began? A Tribute to Primary Music

Guest author Emma Lu strikes again! She is a wife, mother, grandmother, writer and music therapist who is inspired by children.

Fond memories take me back to my Primary days. Three particular songs stand out in building my fledgling testimony.

I recall the genuine joy I felt as the piano sounded the first note of the beloved song “Give, Said the Little Stream” (Children’s Song Book, 236). I sang the words with great gusto as if I were a joyful bird singing in the early morning hours. The third verse stirred my heart: ”Give then as Jesus gives; there is something all can give.” I wondered, how I could give as Jesus gave? Because of the song, even though I was very young, I became aware of honest service. I began giving in ways to help my family and friends. Over the years, the message of the wonderful song has spread to compassionate ministering, a service of gratitude. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Thanks to the Primary pianists and choristers who, so many years ago, opened my heart to serve as Jesus does.

Another song teaching me a great truth was “Teach Me to Walk in the Light” (CS, 177). The day I first heard the stirring melody, I felt I had found a precious jewel. I recall my Primary chorister saying, “Heavenly Father loves you and wants to hear about what you are thinking and what is happening in your life. He will help you with your schoolwork and any problems you have.” Her words filtered into my soul. I felt the need for Heavenly Father’s help to guide me to do what’s right; it was like a devouring fire’s flame racing to consume a forest. I felt a warm and loving feeling from Heavenly Father when I talked to him. My diligent Primary chorister truly awoke the profound need for prayer and faith to enhance my life. I give thanks for the moving words and musical ability of a caring chorister and the pianist who played with an angel’s touch. From D&C 25:12 we read: “For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.” I bear testimony to the truth of this scripture, for I learned of it in Primary.

Another beloved song leads me to a deep and inspiring study of the life and teachings of Jesus, titled “Tell Me the Stories of Jesus” (CS, 57). I think of the song and often hum the tune as we sang it in Primary. Today I study His life, His parables, “Be-Attitudes,” and the beautiful, inspiring Sermon on the Mount. I know the teachings we receive when we are young matter and set the stage for greater achievements.

To the children (and adults) of today, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf stated, “Trust [that God] will make more of you than you can possibly make of yourself” (from “In expanded devotional, Elder Uchtdorf guides LDS young single adults in ‘adventure of mortality’”, by Marianne Holman Prescott, Deseret News, Jan 14, 2018)

I thank my captivating Primary choristers and pianists for their faithful service and reaching into my searching soul to teach me songs of inspiration. I now realize my sacred testimony was awakened in Primary. The wonderful workers in Primary stand on a pedestal!

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“How does a frustrated (leader or parent) get a struggling (child) to behave better?”

Elder S. Mark Palmer’s April 2017 talk discussed his experiences as a frustrated mission president trying to get a struggling missionary to behave better. But it certainly resonated with me for Primary leaders and parents trying to get a struggling child to behave better. I’ll adapt Elder Palmer’s words below for that context.

Elder Palmer quoted Mark 10:17-21 about the rich young man: “And Jesus beholding him loved him.” Elder Palmer said, “Beholding — as in looking deeply and penetratingly into his soul, recognizing his goodness and also his potential, as well as discerning his greatest need. Because of this love and with this love, Jesus asked even more of him. In that moment, I knew it was not just the hearts of some of our (children) that needed changing. It was my heart as well. The question was no longer ‘How does a frustrated (leader or parent) get a struggling (child) to behave better?’ Instead, the question was ‘How can I be filled with Christlike love so a (child) can feel the love of God through me and desire to change? How can I behold him or her, seeing them for who they really are and who they can become, rather than just for what they are doing or not doing?”

Elder Palmer continues: “(Child), if I didn’t love you, I wouldn’t care what happens to you. But I do love you, and because I love you, I care about who you can become. So I invite you to change those things that are hard for you and become who the Lord wants you to be.” He offers these steps:

  1. As we learn to see others as the Lord sees them, our love for them will grow and so will our desire to help them. With Christlike love we will not be afraid to speak with boldness.
  2. No true teaching or learning will ever occur when done in frustration or anger, and hearts will not change where love is not present.
  3. Love should never be withdrawn when a child, friend or family member fails to live up to our expectations. We don’t know what happened to the rich young man after he went away sorrowful, but I am confident Jesus still loved him perfectly even if he chose the easier path. Perhaps later in life, he acted on the Lord’s inviting him to follow Him.
  4. Because He loves us, the Lord expects much of us.

“And we will never give up, remembering that those who are hardest to love need love the most (emphasis added).”

God bless us as we seek to love each child — EACH child — as He loves them.


See also Unresponsive children – “love them today, maybe teach them tomorrow”

Feelings First-Aid Kit – addressing disruptions at home and in Primary and

Staffing, Training, Behavior Management, and more!


(PS – these same principles work for anything. Elder Palmer goes on to add: “Anytime you feel you are being asked to do something hard — give up a poor habit or an addiction, put aside worldly pursuits, sacrifice a favorite activity because it is the Sabbath, forgive someone who wronged you — think of the Lord beholding you, loving you, and inviting you to let it go and follow Him. And thank Him for loving you enough to invite you to do more.”)

(BTW – can’t quite place Elder Palmer’s accent? It’s Australian.)

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Children and Youth Program! bring your QUESTIONS

The new Children and Youth Program replaces Scouting, Activity Days and Personal Progress, as a “higher, holier way to encourage the rising generation to follow Jesus Christ and apply His gospel in all areas of their lives” (from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in the Children and Youth Introductory Guide for Parents and Leaders. The initial rollout has been explained in the church-wide broadcast; the Face to Face Devotional with Elder Gerritt W. Gong and general leaders will have more answers on Sunday, November 17, at 4:00 p.m. Mountain Standard Time.

In the meanwhile, collect your questions! for two reasons:

  1. Asking your questions makes sure you are focusing on how to adapt the program to the needs of your Primary children and your family. It opens you up to personal revelation from the Lord for your circumstances.
  2. The Church wants to know what’s on your mind! At the Face to Face Devotional, “The guests will answer questions about the effort from children and youth from around the world. If you would like to submit a question, you can do so (below)” at

As Pres. Nelson says, “Eat your vitamin pills. Get some rest. It’s going to be exciting!” I join Pres. Nelson in being excited about what God has in store for these chosen youth in the last days.


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Hmm. . . the better choices are missing pictures. . .

“On the way to school, I thought about ways to not get so upset at other people.” 

“I said sorry to my sister and drew her a funny cat picture.”

“I went to bed early and woke up with plenty of time to pray.” 

Looking for some good case studies to talk about making good choices and bad choices? The Friend includes pictures of the bad choices, with Matt and Mandy noticing “Hmm. . . the better choices are missing pictures! Let’s draw some!”

Take that challenge and ask the children to illustrate some better choices! Let’s teach children to be a little better every day. (Personally, there are a few choices here that I can do a little better with myself. . . )



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Send your money on a mission, even when you’re young

Too young to go on a mission? Victoria B, age 12 from Alberta, Canada, said this: “Today at church I paid my tithing. I also decided to use almost half of my babysitting money for humanitarian aid and the general missionary fund. I remember that the prophet said that if you can’t go on a mission right now, you can send your dollars on a mission. Since I’m still young and can’t go on a mission, I will send my dollars on a mission.” (Friend, November 2016, 27)

Also see Paying Tithing on Treats for a tithing experience that kids will remember! You may want to let the bishopric know ahead of time that some children might show up with a single M&M or salted sunflower seed in a tithing envelope, or a single no-bake cookie as tithing!


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Watch for women leaders in General Conference!

Primary General Presidency, left to right: Lisa Harkness, Joy D. Jones, Cristina B. Franco.

One of our favorite guest authors, Primary president Jen H., posted a picture of the Primary General Presidency in her ward, to teach the children about their worldwide leaders. You can ask the children to watch for these leaders at General Conference, including the General Women’s Meeting! “There’s a Primary leader!” You might want to talk about the history of Primary, which first started over 100 years ago with 215 children. Now there are over a million children in Primary all over the world! Read more here.

In addition to learning about Primary itself, children might like to learn about Relief Society and Young Women: their history and purpose, and their strong, faithful women leaders, past and present. See the lesson plan with downloadable visuals at “Women and Service in the Kingdom: A Sharing Time or family night lesson for girls AND boys.”

Consider praying for these women leaders, as well as praying for the prophet. See Pray for women church leaders – setting an example including guest author Christanne.

For more family preparation for General Conference, see this great interactive activity for kids to do during conference: “General Conference Chart: Prophets, Apostles & Velcro OH MY!



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Popsicle stick puzzles – for a lesson or for a service project!

Ready for some fun? You can make a popsicle stick puzzle to go with your lesson OR let kids make them as a service project. Completed popsicle stick puzzles can go to homeless shelters, refugee assistance organizations, or just a kid in their lives who needs something to smile about.

Here are a few easy ways to make popsicle stick puzzles:

  • Write, draw or paint directly on the craft sticks. You can decorate the sticks with pictures or words, religious or non-religious. You can write the words sideways like this photo, so the words themselves come apart, or one word or phrase per craft stick. First tape the sticks together with masking tape, then go wild with markers or acrylic paint. (Detailed instructions here.)
  • Paste a photo or picture (cut from a poster or magazine cover for durability) on the popsicle sticks. First tape the sticks together with masking tape, then use Mod Podge to glue the photo or picture, and cut it apart when dry. (Detailed instructions here.)

That’s it! If you’re using these puzzles to teach a lesson, you can make a single puzzle that children make together, or make individual puzzles for each child in a ziploc bag.

For more kid-to-kid service projects, see Pint-sized Service Projects and Serving as Jesus Served: Class project or family activity


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News about Primary sacrament meeting invitation and program designer

CatholicStudyFellowship on Facebook

When eagle-eyed readers started asking for it, intrepid guest designer Pierrette designed the 2019 Primary sacrament meeting program invitation and printed program cover for us using Greg Olsen’s gorgeous art. (Thank you, Pierrette!) When she and I were going back and forth about it, she said “Sorry, I had a very difficult month. I will work on it again.” I expressed my support but didn’t think much of it — we all have months like that from time to time.

Just a few weeks later Pierrette found out that it was brain cancer. Thankfully, the tumor operation was successful, followed now by radiation and chemo. Our prayers for you continue, Pierrette.
So when we think about the Primary sacrament meeting presentation, and we think about the children sharing their thoughts about what it means to obey Jesus when He says “Come, follow me,” we know that all of us are facing struggles large and small on that covenant path every day.
God bless us every one.
Working on content for your Primary sacrament meeting presentation? Try this: Preparing for the Primary sacrament meeting presentation 2019
are both in Microsoft Word, hoping that that will make it easily adaptable to your own ward or branch’s details.

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