Category Archives: Parent Involvement

Primary and new manual “Teaching in the Savior’s Way”

lds.org

lds.org

Like you, I thrill at the announcement of the new manual “Teaching in the Savior’s Way.” As stated on the cover, this manual is for “every gospel teacher — every parent, every formally called teacher, . . . and every follower of Christ.” That sounds like you, me and everyone!

I’m particularly delighted that now there will be a regular time for teacher training and development each month. This has been difficult to arrange in the past, but now it’s built-in. Page 3 of the manual states that these monthly meetings can happen during Sunday School or Priesthood/Relief Society, whenever best fits the needs of your Primary. It may take some creativity to figure out how to spring your teachers and leaders loose to attend these meetings (combine classes, get monthly substitutes. To see how others have made this work, see “Springing Primary workers for special presentations and teacher council meetings.”

Prayerfully consider whether Primary teachers and leaders should hold teacher council meetings together with other auxiliaries or separately, to discuss the special needs of children; page 3 of the manual leaves it up to you. The ward council (of which the Primary president is a valuable member) oversees teacher council meetings, perhaps with the Sunday School presidency or any ward council member leading the discussion.

The manual underscores this valuable guideline about the relationship between the home and Primary: “Parents are the most important gospel teachers for their children—they have both the main responsibility and the greatest power to influence their children (see Deuteronomy 6:6–7). As you teach children at church, prayerfully seek ways to support their parents in their essential role. For example, you could talk to parents about the needs and interests of their children, you could share with them what their children are learning in your class, and you could find out how you might support parents’ efforts as you teach.” “Teaching in the Savior’s Way,” page 25.

For ways to connect home and Primary, see “Bridging the Connection Between Home and Primary: a monthly newsletter” and “Bridging Home and Church Through a Child’s Simple Question.”

Also see the Ensign article from “Teaching in the Savior’s Way, titled “Behold Your Little Ones: Learning to Teach Children.”

“The goal of every gospel teacher,” says the manual’s cover, “is to teach the pure doctrine of the gospel, by the Spirit, in order to help God’s children build their faith in the Savior and become more like Him.”

God bless us all – young and old – on the journey.

-Marci

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October Sharing Time or Family Night: Taking Prayer to the Next Level

The October sharing time theme suggests that you take weeks 3&4 to discuss “Heavenly Father hears and answers my prayers.” Your children might enjoy this charming story: “A child’s prayer can save a (duck’s) life.”  While one can never spend too much time discussing God’s answers to prayers, your children may be ready for the next step: adding repentance or fasting to prayer.

Instead of four steps of prayer (address Heavenly Father by name, thank Him, ask Him, and close in Jesus’ name), consider the FIVE steps of prayer (add repentance as a vibrant, daily part of prayer). Here’s a downloadable handout. (See also “Personal Prayer Lesson Plan – with visuals for children, especially those with Special Needs.”)

Or your children may be ready to be introduced to Fasting for Beginners, adding fasting to prayer as reverent communication between God and me.

-Marci

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September Sharing Time Lesson: Preparing (emotionally) for a mission and for life!

lds.org

lds.org

2016 September theme “The Gospel Will Be Preached in All the World.” Week 3: “I can prepare now to serve a mission.”

When we think of children preparing for a mission, we often think of learning to study the scriptures, save money, keep the commandments, and invite friends to church. These are important and valuable skills.

But”The Hardest Part of Missionary Work” isn’t missionary work, reads a June 2016 New Era article by Wendy Ulrich. One missionary said, “for me the hardest part is what goes on in my head—like feeling discouraged or getting frustrated with companions or not liking talking to strangers—just dealing with all the ups and downs, the rejection, the change.” The article continues, “You should also get experience with the emotional, social, and other skills you’ll need as a missionary. You can start practicing now.”

Many young adults have stress-relief mechanisms that they developed as children. These coping mechanisms may or may not be healthy or mission-appropriate. As children try new and hard things, they can practice conflict-resolution skills with family and friends and in Primary. At home, they can build healthy habits, including mission-appropriate bedtime and wake-up routines.

If a child’s preferred stress-coping mechanism involves video games or YouTube, they could use some other mission-appropriate methods. We don’t often think of it as mission preparation, but teaching children to be resilient, positive and resourceful IS preparing them with valuable skills for serving the Lord as missionaries. One family I know took a “no technology vacation” – for TWO WHOLE WEEKS!

One skill that children can start practicing is this: “how to motivate ourselves when we’re bored and calm ourselves down when we’re overstressed. If a situation is boring or not progressing, become curious about what’s wrong and how to fix it, make a game out of it, or figure out what you can learn. Notice when you’re overstressed and learn things you could still do on a mission to calm down (talk to someone, relax, write, sing, walk). Take a step back, break the problem down, involve others, take small steps, pray, and talk back to negative thoughts.”

For a Sharing Time lesson on this idea, you might want to invite the full-time missionaries as guest speakers, and ask them questions like these:

  1. How did you prepare for a mission when you were Primary age?
  2. How did you solve problems with your siblings? How do you solve problems with your companion now?
  3. How did you deal with being discouraged when you were Primary age? How do you deal with discouragement now?
  4. How did you calm yourself down when you were upset when you were Primary age? How do you calm yourself down now?
  5. Now that you’re a missionary, what advice would you give to your Primary-aged self?

As you teach children to prepare for a mission by learning to study the scriptures, save money, keep the commandments, and invite friends to church, also teach them to try new and hard things, practice conflict-resolution skills, and healthy physical and emotional self-care.

Also see Laura’s terrific Sharing Time lesson: “When I Serve A Mission, I Serve God”

-Marci

 

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Bridging Home and Church: a quick note from the teacher

timeout.com

timeout.com

Today’s guest author is Valerie, wife, mother of 7, grandmother of 13, who loves to cook, quilt, read, serve in the temple, and teach Primary!

Whether you communicate with the parents each week or just occasionally, it helps the parents reinforce the child’s learning. Here’s how Valerie does it:

Every Sunday afternoon/evening I send a group e-mail to the parents of the kids in the class.  (I know this is easy for me since I have no children at home making demands on my time!) I tell them what we talked about, maybe mention it would be a good subject for family home evening,  maybe explain the papers they brought home, tell them who said prayers and if they participated in any way in Sharing Time.  I always tell them how much my co-teacher and I love them, how reverent they are in sharing time (which is true–I think they are the most reverent class!), and if anyone said anything cute, funny, or  spiritual in class (as long as it doesn’t embarrass the parents).  Anything about individual behavior I talk to the parents separately.  The Primary presidency says that the parents really like the note.

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The Temple Is a House of God

Aba, Nigeria Temple - lds.org

Aba, Nigeria Temple – lds.org

I love this wonderful advice from the Sharing Time manual in July as you teach children about temples:

“Love those you teach: As you teach about eternal families, be sensitive to children who do not have both a mother and a father in their home. Also be sensitive to children who have parents or siblings who are less active or who are not members of the Church. Encourage all the children to live worthily and prepare so they can have eternal families of their own someday. (See TNGC, 31–32.)”

Here are some ideas and resources for teaching about various aspects of temples:

  1. About the purpose of temples, with a video which includes pictures of the inside of the temple: Primary Children Looking Toward the Temple
  2. About eternal families: Sharing Time ideas on “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”
  3. About staying worthy and preparing to enter the temple: But how can it be so bad if Aunt Susie does it?”
  4. About pictures of the temple in the home: “Let’s go get one right now!”

-Marci

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Nontraditional families and Mother’s Day/Father’s Day

 

I hope that every child has a mother and a father who love them. But in case you know children who might need a more nuanced message, I was heartened by Elder D. Todd Christofferson’s words in April 2016 General Conference. He spoke to children who may struggle to honor parents who are less than honorable. Elder Christofferson said, “To all the rising generation, we say, wherever you rank your own father . . . make up your mind to honor him and your mother by your own life. Your righteousness is the greatest honor any father can receive” (April 2016 General Conference, emphasis added). Notice that he didn’t say “honor your parents means to do what they say.” That can be great advice for parents who give righteous instruction. But for those children in less than ideal circumstances, I appreciate Elder Christofferson’s teaching that we can honor parents by BRINGING honor to them.

How to teach this to children? Try these lesson ideas:

God bless every child, no matter what kind of family they have.

-Marci

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Music in Nursery: Teaching the Gospel

I peeked into nursery recently to make sure my twin toddlers weren’t still sobbing with separation anxiety.  And to my great surprise they weren’t sobbing.  In fact, they weren’t even whimpering.  Instead, they were mesmerized by the Primary music leaders who visit nursery each week. The music leaders had gathered the children to sit on a cozy blanket laid out on the floor and were singing Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam with great animation.  They had given each child a bracelet tied with ribbons (called wrist ribbons or a rhythm ring) so the kids could punctuate their “sun-BEAM” with ribbon flourishes.  The children were enthralled.  They were happy.  They were learning the gospel!

I teach music classes outside of church for young children ages 0-3 years.  I love music and know what an amazing teaching tool it is.  But in my professional classes I don’t get to teach about Jesus or the plan of salvation.  The songs I sing and the ASL (American Sign Language) I teach are about animals, colors, feelings, actions, vehicles, balls, and more.  All super fun and enriching stuff. But not the best stuff, not the gospel.

Nursery is the perfect place to teach about Jesus, the plan of salvation and other basic gospel principles through music. And toddlers are definitely not too young to understand.  If they can do actions and sign language to “Wheels on the Bus,” they can do the actions and signs for “I am Like a Star Shining Brightly (Children’s Songbook, 163).  Music is the ideal way to teach this age group!  Want something to sink in and grab their attention? Sing about it.  Take advantage of this perfect opportunity to teach the gospel to these young children through music.  It’s 1) memorable 2) fun and 3) teaches the gospel.  Boom!  That’s Triple Threat Teaching!

So what made music time so successful for my twin toddlers this particular Sunday?  Here’s a few of the ideas our Primary music leaders are implementing now with great success when they visit nursery each week:

  1. Plan a set of songs and sing them for 6-8 weeks to provide repetition and familiarity.  If the nursery kids transition to Primary knowing 10 songs that would be amazing!
  2. Create some physical structure and boundaries by laying out a blanket for the kids to sit on during music time.  That way they know where you want them.
  3. Incorporate movement and visual interest by using inexpensive props such as shakers, scarves, rhythm rings, song sticks or others.

More blog favorites about nursery music: Hands-on Singing: “Song Sticks” and Using Music Effectively in Nursery

~Michelle

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Bridging Home and Church Through a Child’s Simple Question

     I often ask my children what they learned in Primary and get little to no details.  I know this doesn’t mean that they didn’t learn anything.  When I am in Primary, I sometimes witness them learning amazing things, but when Daddy asks about it, he gets perfunctory or hollow responses.  I think they’re usually just interested in moving on to something else and don’t want to talk about it at the time.  I get it; I’m the same way sometimes.  But I still would love to hear details about what they’re learning in Primary.
thelanguagetortoise.com

thelanguagetortoise.com

      When I received the following email from my daughter’s Primary president recently, I was thrilled!

“Just wanted to share a little anecdote with you from Primary. We did a lesson on opening and closing prayers, to try to increase participation in that area.  Your daughter was a great participant in the lesson, and at the end, I asked if there were any questions. One Sunbeam boy asked “How does Heavenly Father hear our prayers?” and then your daughter asked “Why do we say ‘in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen’?” I was so struck by the sincerity of both questions. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if I gave a great answer to her question; I was already overtime, and kind of rushed through some type of explanation about Jesus being our advocate and taking our concerns to Heavenly Father, since He performed the Atonement for us. Anyway, I thought you might want to follow up on that question in Family Home Evening or dinner discussion with a more thorough explanation, so I thought I’d let you know.”

     Not only was it exciting to hear what they were discussing, it was so beneficial to know about my daughter’s question.  She had never asked us that question before. When we continued the discussion at home during dinner time my daughter was thrilled that both her parents and her church leaders took her question seriously. I think it helped her to see the connection between Sunday gospel learning and home gospel learning as well.
     Bridging the gap between Primary and home can be tricky sometimes.  Primary teachers and leaders: sending an email to parents is a simple and meaningful way to keep a line of communication, build relationships, and strengthen the spiritual growth of the children.  And there never seems to be enough time to cover everything you hope to in Primary, so a follow up email to continue the conversation is genius.
     I am so grateful for dedicated Primary leaders and teachers who agree to teach my kids each Sunday, to share their testimony, and to be part of the village I need to raise these beautiful children of God to know and love their Savior.  I need all the help I can get!  Thank you.
~Michelle

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Video Workshop: Teaching Kids to Feel Empathy for All God’s Children Through Service

Primary leaders: feel free to share this post with parents, or adapt these ideas for use in Primary. 

So often we hear a lesson about service and immediately feel guilty for what we aren’t doing yet all the while feeling overwhelmed with all the things we are doing.  This post is for you!

How and when do I fit in service to others in my already busy family life?  How do I add one more thing to my already-too-long to-do list, even when I want to fulfill the Savior’s call to “do unto others as you would have done unto you?” (Matthew 7:12) How do I sit through one more lesson on service without feeling guilty?

Have you ever asked yourself any of these questions?  They rolled off my mind with ease since I’ve asked them myself more times than I’d like to admit.  When Marci and I were asked to present a workshop on the topic, “Teaching Kids to Feel Empathy for All God’s Children Through Service,” at first we were stumped. The one thing we were sure of was that we would only teach something that would be attainable for your typical busy and overwhelmed woman.  I have felt too much guilt over the years because I just can’t see how to add one more good thing to my day where I already can’t get half of the things done that I need to and want to.  Rather than be another one of those good things that you wished you could accomplish, we hoped to offer realistic strategies and resources that you could implement in your family and community immediately.

Creating a culture of service in our families: that is the goal.  We think we’ve come up with some ideas, resources and strategies to do that and not add to your already-too-long to-do list.  So, after two months of prayer, brainstorming and study this is what we came up with.  We were surprised when the Lord guided us in unexpected directions and led us to go deeper.  So much of what we share in this workshop came from above.  We hope you feel inspired too.  We’d love your feedback.  We’d love to hear about your application of these principles, ideas, and strategies.  If you like what you see please share it!  This video workshop is a live presentation from May of 2015 with 150 women in attendance.

These are the documents we reference during the workshop:

Download and print and get ready to begin your plan for “Creating a Culture of Service” in your family in as few as zero minutes! (You read that right – creating a culture of service in no time at all. It IS possible!Watch and see what we mean.)

~Michelle

 

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by | January 11, 2016 · 9:03 am

A Celebration of Epiphany / Three Kings Day: Family Night Lesson or Sharing Time Supplement

Our guest author Daniel offers a Family-Night-style lesson celebrating an ancient Christian holiday that might have escaped our notice.  Daniel is a teacher and father who loves bird-watching and studying religion.

Download a PDF of this lesson by clicking here.

Star of Bethlehem, Edward Burne-Jones (1890)

Every year on January 6th, millions of Christians around the world celebrate a holiday called Epiphany.  In Spain and Latin America, they call it El Día de los Reyes (“Three Kings Day”), in Sweden it is Trettondedag Jul (“Thirteenth Day Yule”), and in Ethiopia they call it Timkat (though their different calendar puts it on January 19th).  Disneyland even hosts a 5-day celebration!  It is officially “The 12th Day of Christmas,” and is the day on which people of many cultures exchange their Christmas gifts.

The reason for this holiday is contained in the word Epiphany, from the Greek, which means “to make manifest,” “to reveal,” or “to appear.”  First celebrated in the 4th century AD, it traditionally commemorates three New Testament events during which Jesus Christ was “revealed” to the world:

  1. the visit of the wise men (usually called The Magi) shortly after his birth, when baby Jesus was heralded as a king for all people;
  2. Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River, when the Spirit of God descended and a voice spoke from heaven, “This is my beloved Son;”
  3. and the wedding at Cana, at which Jesus’ first public miracle took place when he revealed his divine powers by changing the water into wine.

Each culture has developed rich traditions as a part of their celebration of Epiphany, ranging from the leaving of children’s shoes outside their doors in hopes that the Three Kings will fill them with gifts during the nighttime, to the baking and eating of a “King Cake,” to putting on massive and glorious parades that culminate in ritual re-enactments of the baptism of Jesus.  Christians the world over have developed an impressive variety of religious feasts, blessings, sacred processions, fasts, and musical celebrations in honor of Epiphany.  It is the climax of the ancient “Twelve Days of Christmas.”  It is the merry-making “Twelfth Night.”  It is a world-wide communal celebration of the revelation of Jesus Christ to all mankind.

 

Study and Discussion (choose anything that interests you)

 Read and discuss the scriptures associated with the three traditional “Epiphany” events.  What does each “reveal” about Jesus?

  • The visit of the Magi (Matthew 2)
  • The Baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3: 13-17 plus JST; Mark 1: 9-11; Luke 3: 21-22; John 1: 32-34)
  • The Wedding Feast at Cana (John 2: 1-11)

Brainstorm, Talk, and Write:

  1. If we were to celebrate three latter-day events for a new kind of Epiphany, which would you choose?  Which events in the history of our church “revealed” Jesus to us in essential ways?
  2. What about you and your personal experience with JesusCan you recall some of the events in your life in which Christ was “revealed” to you in any particular way?
    • Share your memories and experiences with the members of your group if you feel like it.
    • Write them in a journal or elsewhere and revisit these memories each January 6th with a prayer of gratitude and celebration for those events in which Christ “revealed” himself to you.

Expand Your Knowledge:

  1. Search your library of books, the internet, or “The LDS Scripture Citation Index” (scriptures.byu.edu) for more information and insights about the visit of the Magi, the baptism of Jesus, and the wedding feast at Cana.  Work together and make it fun for your group!  Share what you have learned with the others in your group (this can be as structured or as informal and free-wheeling as you’d like).  If you keep a scripture study journal, this might be a good time to write down any new insights.

Activities: Baking, Service, Art, and Video (choose any that interest you)

  1. Bake and eat a King Cake!  Search the internet for ideas and recipes that look good to you.  There are several yummy varieties out there – be sure to look up recipes for La Galette des Rois (a French pastry cake), Rosca de Reyes (the Spanish or Latin American variety), Dreikönigskuchen (a Swiss recipe), and Gâteau des Rois (another French variety).  Before you eat it, say a prayer in which you all take turns thanking God for events in your life in which Jesus Christ was “made manifest” to you in some way.  Watch out for the toy hidden inside!
  2. Take three gifts to a family in need.  Do it in grateful remembrance of the gifts of the Magi to baby Jesus and his humble little family.
  3. Search the vast “art museum” that is the internet for artwork depicting the three Epiphany events from the life of Jesus (for the visit of the wise men, the precise terms “Adoration of the Magi” and “Journey of the Magi” will be useful).  Try to find images from a variety of cultures and eras and using a variety of mediums (Christianity has a rich artistic heritage in painting, stained glass, tile murals, and stone carving to name a few).  Look closely at and ponder your favorite images and discuss the message or feeling each image conveys to you about Jesus.  Which images speak the most directly to your heart?  Which most closely reflect your personal experience of Jesus Christ?  Which inspire your devotion?
  4. Try your hand at religious art or musical expression, whether you’re a professional artist or a complete beginner.  Choose an “Epiphany” theme and depict it in an artistic way: draw a picture, make a play-doh sculpture, write a song, paint with watercolors, use markers on aluminum foil, make Epiphany-themed pancakes – use your imagination!  Try to pour your heart into the project, regardless of your skill level, offering your devotion to Christ through artistic expression.
  5. Explore the internet for videos of people from a variety of religious cultures celebrating Epiphany and Three Kings Day (and don’t forget “Timkat” or “Timket”).  What do people do?  Why do they do it?  As a group, think up some ways you might want to incorporate any of these religious traditions into your own celebration of Epiphany with your family and friends.  Now, let’s celebrate!

~Daniel

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