Today’s guest author is Becky, whose Primary leadership experience spans many years and whose love for the children shines out of her eyes. She writes:
Last summer I taught the modesty lesson from the Sharing Time manual. Which, of course, meant explaining what modesty is and why it’s important, in a way that even the youngest kids could understand without getting into concepts that are best discussed at home. After beating my head against a (metaphorical) wall for awhile I came up with the idea of showing them pictures of people in clothes that tell you something about who they are or what they are doing.
I searched online for coloring pages and found an astronaut, chef, bride and groom, ballerina, etc.
During Sharing Time I held up each picture and asked what the children could tell about the person by looking at their clothes. Then we talked about how all clothes give messages. We talked about how we wear nicer clothes to church than to school out of respect for Heavenly Father. Some clothes, like the bride’s wedding dress, are for special occasions, and other clothes are only appropriate for certain activities, like swimsuits.
We also talked about how some clothes are never appropriate because they give people bad messages. I told them that Heavenly Father made each one of us special and everyone deserves to be treated with respect. They should be careful to wear clothes that remind others of that. Wearing clothes that cover the “important parts” of our bodies completely (the parts covered by a swimsuit) is part of that.
Now, obviously these discussions went very differently in Junior than Senior Primary but it worked well with both. The Junior Primary needed to have “respect” defined. I defined it simply, “respecting Heavenly Father means remembering that He wants us to be safe and happy, and trying to always be grateful for all He does for us and do what He asks.” I defined “respect for other people” as “remembering that they’re just as important as you are, and that Heavenly Father loves them and wants them to be happy just like He loves you and wants you to be happy.” Neither of those is a particularly complete definition, but for the Sunbeams even that much is a big concept. Some of them were still young enough not to truly understand why we shouldn’t all just run around naked, and so I fell back on the true, but incomplete, explanation that this is how Heavenly Father wants us to dress.
Meanwhile, in Senior Primary the children threw out gleeful (and completely unsolicited) examples of clothing we should never wear, and the 11 year olds could easily have taken the discussion in directions not appropriate for the 7 and 8 year olds. That meant I had to put some extra effort into keeping things on track. In both groups I had to remember to answer the older children’s questions in ways that were appropriate for the youngest child in the room, which took some careful phrasing. No matter what age group you’re teaching I strongly recommend cutting the topic down to its absolute most basic level in your head before even planning, much less teaching, a lesson on this subject. It makes answering questions on what could easily be a very awkward subject so much easier.
Thanks to some careful planning and some inspiration I ended up actually enjoying teaching the lesson, which was not at all what I expected when I first found out about the topic I was going to teach!