Teaching to a Child’s Whole Body-resources for reaching children of all learning styles

Are you familiar with the idea of “Listening with Your Whole Body”?  Perhaps you’ve never thought about it in those terms, but it’s something commonly expected in Primaries across the world.  Here’s an example: “I can tell you’re listening when your hands and feet are to yourself, your bottom is in your chair, your eyes are on me and your mouth is quiet while I take my turn.”  Does this sound familiar?  Have you said something similar in your Primary before? This is the concept of “Listening with Your Whole Body”.

I want to use this concept as a springboard for another idea that I want to talk about in detail today.  The idea of “Teaching to a Child’s Whole Body”.  We ask children to listen with their whole bodies, and I think if children knew what to ask for, they’d be asking us to teach to their whole bodies.  So, what does “Teaching to a Child’s Whole Body” look like?  We’ll answer this question in a minute.  First I want to talk briefly about our Primary Curriculum.

We are given a fantastic Sharing Time outline each year to follow for the month to month and week to week themes and lessons.  This is a priceless resource for us! The introduction of the Sharing Time outline says:  “This booklet provides complete lessons for some of the weeks in the year. Ideas, but not complete lessons, are included for the other weeks.  Supplement those ideas with some of your own… The Spirit can guide you as you plan and prepare activities for lessons.”

 You know the children in your Primary.  When you read the Sharing Time outline topic for a given week you can determine the needs of your Primary children in regard to the suggested lesson plan.  This is called “Pre-Assessment” and is a crucial teaching skill.  “Pre Assessment” means you consider the ages and development of the children you are teaching and prepare a lesson that is fitting for your individual group.  Let’s use this theme for our discussion here: “Blessings of the Priesthood Are Available to All” (with weekly themes about the sacrament, baptism, blessings etc.)

If your Primary children are very familiar with and have an understanding of priesthood ordinances and the purpose of the sacrament, use that as a springboard and go forward from there.  Alternately, if your Primary children seem confused at what the word priesthood means and have no idea how priesthood and sacrament fit together, begin there.

It may be that you are teaching the same topic to Junior and Senior Primary but you are likely applying the principles in a different way and possibly using different activities to make it developmentally appropriate.

For anyone to learn effectively, they need to find the learning process enjoyable!  My goal as a teacher is to be in the “challenge zone”.  What does that mean?


too easy                  interesting                         too hard

Now that we’ve discussed what we teach I want to turn our discussion to how we teach so we can answer the question I posed earlier: What does “Teaching to a Child’s Whole Body” look like?  Think of one basic principle you want to teach.  Then, think of how you could apply these 5 different approaches to teach that one principle:

 Say the principle: Children hear it in simple, developmentally appropriate, concise words.

 Teach the principle through music: They hear it and feel it. The message reaches a different part of their brain making it more memorable.  If you also choose to teach some basic American Sign Language with the song lyrics then you appeal to those who are visual  and kinesthetic learners as well.

Teach the principle through a game: They hear it, analyze it, apply it, and think about related circumstances. (Games and movement activities can often overlap, but not always.)

Teach the principle through a movement activity: Many of the above benefits, plus they get to move their body which increases their attention span and moving reaches children with different learning styles. (Kinesthetic learning is a learning style in which learning takes place by the student carrying out a physical activity.  Thank you Wikipedia for that definition!)

Teach the principle through drawing or writing activity: Many of the above benefits plus they get to see what they are thinking and physically put it down on paper and these reach yet more learning styles. (Visual learning is a learning style in which ideas, concepts, data and other information are associated with images.  Wikipedia can be so helpful sometimes!)

Interested in how you might teach about the Sacrament through music, game or movement?  Check out some great ideas for each of these 5 approaches to teach October and November’s Sharing Time themes.

I’m not suggesting you implement ALL of these different approaches ALL of the time, I’m suggesting that you consider using a variety of these approaches based on what you think would be most effective for the children you are teaching (remember the concept of “Pre Assessment”? Know your children and plan your lessons based on their level of understanding and learning style).  The beauty about teaching the gospel is that we not only have these wonderful teaching resources; we have the gift of the Holy Ghost, the most imperative teaching resource to build young testimonies of Jesus Christ.




Filed under Lesson, Music, Nursery, Reaching the One, Sharing Time, Special Needs, Teacher Support

9 responses to “Teaching to a Child’s Whole Body-resources for reaching children of all learning styles

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