Category Archives: Parent Involvement

Want to follow up and get feedback from the children?

So you give the children a challenge to translate your good lesson into action (be kinder, help more around the house, pray every day, read scriptures, etc.). You wish you knew if they actually did it? Here’s an idea for followup and feedback.

Towards the end of your lesson, pass out a sheet of inexpensive round dot stickers. Ask the children to draw smiley faces on the dots. Then give them a postcard (a simple 4×6 index card will work nicely) or a sheet of paper. Every time the child applies the lesson, they put a sticker on the postcard or paper. Encourage them to briefly write what they did also. Then, the child either brings you or mails you the completed postcard or paper.

Stapling the sheet of stickers to the card or paper, along with brief instructions for the parents, will maximize the chances of all those pieces arriving home together.

Addressing the postcard to yourself and putting a stamp on it will maximize the chances of your receiving the feedback, if you want to make that investment. Older children can be taught to write your address in the correct place on the postcard and put the stamp in the correct corner (a valuable life skill).

Also see Primary Assessment: Children

Here’s to putting those good lessons into action!


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“Mother I love you, I’ll clean up my rooooooom!”

“Mother I love you, mother I do, Father in Heaven has sent me to you. When I am near you, I love to hear you yelling so firmly ‘clean up your room!’ Mother I love you I’ll clean up my rooooooom!” (Thank you, Dale Boam.)

It’s upon us again – Mother’s Day and Father’s Day season in the USA. While different countries celebrate these holidays on different days or in different ways, every culture honors parents and families. These moments of honoring parents are important and precious.

When over 40 percent of births in the United States are to unwed mothers (said Elder Dallin H Oaks in 2018), what does it mean to a child to sing “I’m So Glad When Daddy Comes Home?” What if Daddy doesn’t come home . . . ever?

Or how do you teach the 10 Commandments, including “honor thy father and mother,” when you know some kids may be abused at home? Does honoring parents mean children allowing themselves to be abused? A recent Ensign article estimates that one in four people worldwide has been abused as a child. One in four.

Try these lesson ideas:

Read more at All Kinds of Families are Part of Heavenly Father’s plan – and other topics

God bless ALL the children in all kinds of families — on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and always, no matter “how imperfect our family tree may be” (Elder Dale G. Renlund, April 2018).

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Filed under Parent Involvement, Reaching the One

Children and disasters

For the first time in decades, I walked past the elementary school of my childhood recently. I walked right to the spot on the playground where I heard the news of the tragedy that defined my generation. The teachers were crying, and we children were all sent home to try to make sense of it with our parents.

Some tragedies are too big for children to ignore, even in Primary. While the task of helping children deal with disasters largely falls to parents, Primary leaders and teachers may feel the need to acknowledge, however briefly, a personal or global disaster to help children put it in an eternal context. A few principles can be useful to keep in mind:

  • God is always stronger than Satan. We need not fear; God is still in charge.
  • While disasters are a big shock to us, they are no surprise to God. He knows everything, from the beginning of time to the end (Moses 1:6).
  • God’s purposes are never frustrated (Doctrine & Covenants 3:1,3). Sometimes I don’t know how, but I do know that God will unfold His plan in this circumstance somehow.
  • In the end, God’s team will win. Of that there is no question. The only question is whose team I will be on in the end. I will stay on God’s winning team (see “Our Greatest Coach,”New Era, November 2014.

For more information, including specific ideas of responding to disasters with acts of service and emergency preparedness tasks, see Feeling safe in the last days on this blog and “Dealing with Disasters,” Ensign, August 2018, 72 (pictured above).

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Filed under Life Lessons, Parent Involvement

“Home church” and the book “Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids”

Are you getting settled into a rhythm with Come Follow Me and your family and/or yourself? Are you finding what works for you? A child called it “home church” — taking the third hour home.

You may be making more liberal use of the Friend magazine than ever before, with its monthly resources that support the Come Follow Me curriculum. Watch for the diamond that reads “Come Follow Me” on the top corner in certain articles and activities.

Here’s an additional resource to add more fun gospel learning to your sabbath: “Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids,” the book that was born on this blog! It’s your favorite Primary in Zion blog posts, plus new voices from other authors, in a volume you can take with you! “Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids” is available on, or wherever LDS books are sold.

Read how the book came about here. Download the handouts and posters here.

You’ll find

  • A mini pioneer trek, a temple trip, talking about girls’ and women’s roles in the church, and other memorable lessons and activities
  • Pint-sized service projects
  • Clever pictures to memorize the Articles of Faith
  • Creating simple play stations (at nursery and at home!)
  • and more!




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Filed under Activity, Lesson, Parent Involvement

The FRIEND and Come Follow Me – a treasure trove for parents and leaders!

The Friend magazine: not just for kids! The January 2019 Friend is full of resources for parents and leaders to implement Come Follow Me at home and in church. Watch for the diamond in the top corner that reads “Come Follow Me.” Here is a selection from the January 2019 Friend in English (see below for Spanish):

Read online at or subscribe at You may want to order copies of this special month’s magazine for each of your children, so they will have their own reading chart — or print extra copies online.

Watch for more helps for Come Follow Me in future magazines!

SPANISH SPEAKERS – Notice that the Amigos magazine is separate from the Liahona starting January 2019! Many of the same articles noted above are in the Amigos magazine as well!


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Filed under Lesson, Parent Involvement, Scriptures

Ready for a new Primary year?

As we come to the close of one year and look ahead to another, it’s time to prepare for the big transition! You can help the children take it in stride by taking steps to help them know what to expect. Here’s our readers’ favorite posts for doing it smoothly and with love:

You might also enjoy this resource from the Friend magazine about helping children get ready for Sunbeams. Click on the image above to read the article in the January 2017 Friend.

Happy New Year – a little early!


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Filed under Parent Involvement, Teacher Support, Transitions

Bullying: Having Difficult Conversations with Parents

We’ve posted a few thoughts about dealing with bullying here and here. But what if your child might BE the bully? Or what if you as a Primary leader must have a tough conversation with parents, to let them know their child has exhibited bullying behavior in Primary? See how one parent handled it with her son in “Me? A Bully?” in the February 2017 Friend, 36-37.

Notice how the mother doesn’t shame the child, but continues to believe in the boy’s good intentions. She also takes positive steps, like asking him to:

  1. find out three cool things about the person he doesn’t like,
  2. sing a Primary song like “If the Savior Stood Beside Me” (click here for Michelle’s sign language video and visuals),
  3. remember when the child himself was in a similar situation and appreciated being treated with kindness, and
  4. do something nice for someone he doesn’t get along with.

“You don’t have to be best friends with everyone, but you can choose to be kind.”

If you have to have this conversation with parents, you can send the same messages to the parents themselves: not shaming the parents, continuing to believe in the good intentions of the parents AND the child, and taking positive steps, not just avoiding the negative. That is, instead of saying to the parents, “Tell your child to stop bullying,” Primary leaders can encourage parents to help the child see the good in everyone, and take concrete positive steps suggested above. You may want to give them a copy of the Friend article.

This is never an easy conversation, but with the guidance of the Spirit, addressing bullying can make Primary the safe, comfortable space that it needs to be for everyone to grow.


Filed under Bullying, Parent Involvement

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

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.


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Filed under Parent Involvement, Primary Presidency Administration, Teacher Support

Taking Prayer to the Next Level

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.


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Filed under Lesson, Parent Involvement, Sharing Time

Preparing (emotionally) for a mission and for life!

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”




Filed under Lesson, Life Lessons, Parent Involvement, Primary Presidency Administration, Sharing Time