It hit me hard the day that I realized that the gap between graduating from Primary and attending seminary is only two years. Now, immediately after seminary is the choice to serve a mission for young men, only a year away for women. “Behold, I will hasten my work in its time,” said the Lord in Doctrine & Covenants 88:73. It’s the last days, and the time is accelerating.
I think about the scripture familiarity expected in seminary and that expected at the end of Primary. I think we can do better. We can prepare the children for seminary, for mission service, and for life by instilling early a love for the voice of the Lord to His children, found in the scriptures.
Getting into the scriptures also solves another problem; Senior Primary kids can be bored with some Primary activities. There’s plenty of challenge and room to grow in mastering the scriptures! Think of Senior Primary as pre-seminary.
Start by encouraging children to bring scriptures to Primary. Some wards provide incentives — stickers on a chart or tokens in a jar, or a competition between classes, with a monthly class prize of a grab bag (stickers, erasers, etc…).
Once you’ve got the children bringing scriptures, then be sure to USE them EVERY WEEK. Soon children will get the idea that if they don’t bring their scriptures, they’re missing out.
How can we use the scriptures in Primary? Even Junior Primary kids can get into the scriptures. See Actively Getting Children Into the Scriptures in Primary. Then add these ideas for Senior Primary children:
1) Read the monthly theme out loud together from the scriptures themselves. Yes, it takes a little longer to help children find the scripture, but they’ll get good at it after awhile. The first week of the month each child can find the scripture and put a bookmark in it. Gradually over the course of the month children can memorize the scripture, so that by the end of the month they’re neither looking in their scriptures nor on the board, but repeating together from memory. (Be sure they’re memorizing the reference too.)
2) Find a scripture related to every lesson. Instead of just quoting it, take the time to have the children look up the scripture and read it together.
3) Find scriptures that relate to the songs. The Children’s Songbook (CS) and Hymns make it easy for you. Check the bottom right corner for two scriptures that relate to the song topic. Easy. Your lesson topic is baptism? Sing the song “Baptism” (CS, 100). The bottom right corner leads you to Matthew 3:13-16, the story of Christ’s baptism from the scriptures, and the 4th Article of Faith. Done.
Senior Primary as pre-seminary? Preparing children to know and love the scriptures and the Author? Yes. I like it.
(PS – Quick question — how many children know where to find the Articles of Faith in the scriptures? uh. . . how many ADULTS know where to find the Articles of Faith in the scriptures? Answer: the Pearl of Great Price, last page.)