Category Archives: Reaching the One

Different Kinds of Families

Just as each child is unique, each child’s family is unique. Being sensitive to the different shapes and sizes of families pays rich benefits to the children and teachers alike, with the potential to heal unseen wounds. This great advice comes from the July 2018 Ensign magazine in the “Friend Connection” section:

  • Include stories that show a variety of families. [Note: lessons often invite you to share relevant stories from your culture to illustrate gospel principles. Make sure some of the stories include children in different kinds of families that your children can relate to.]
  • Help children understand how they can contribute to their family’s happiness — even if their family doesn’t seem “ideal” right now. They can look forward to creating a family of their own one day. Each one of us is also part of a loving heavenly family.
  • Teach children that we should not be critical of other families but respectful and inclusive, even when we don’t agree with the choices other families make.

More specific ideas here: All Kinds of Families are Part of Heavenly Father’s plan — and other topics.

 

The illustration is the cover of the book “Our Heavenly Family, Our Earthly Families” by Caitlin Connolly, Bethany Brady Spalding and McArthur Krishna, available from Amazon and Deseret Book. 

 

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Unresponsive children – “love them today, maybe teach them tomorrow”

lds.org

You probably have some children in your life that are harder to love. They may be in your Primary, they may be in your family. You WANT to love them, and you know that Jesus loves them. What helps me is to remember that love — God’s pure love, or charity — is a gift of the Spirit that I can pray for. Moroni, as he was being hunted day and night, wrote these profound words: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren [he’s talking to us, his readers in the last days], pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ.” (Moroni 7:48)

Surprisingly, some of the children that were most challenging for me to deal with have been the ones that I ended up loving the most, once we broke through to each other. And we taught each other a great deal along the way.

More importantly, I have earnestly sought to feel the love that God feels for this child. Sometimes those prayers are answered with surprising loveforce. As I like to say, you can’t have that kind of love flow through you without getting any on you.

Ready for some fresh ideas on loving each one, dealing with distractions, and discipline? Try these ideas:

God has entrusted us with His children — ALL the children. We can love them today — even the unresponsive ones — and maybe we can teach them tomorrow.

-Marci

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um . . . who else is here?

by John Lautermilch at fineartamerica.com

Much to my astonishment, I checked the stats yesterday and found that this PrimaryinZion blog you’re looking at, right here, has visitors from 176 countries. Read my thoughts about it at What’s Primary like in Nepal or Bahrain?

I’m mystified how this happens — I’m just posting ideas, many generously contributed by guest authors. I’m thrilled that so many folks all over the world find this blog useful as we join hands with our children on our way back to the God who made us all. (Comments always welcome below! We’d love to hear from YOU!)

As children begin to realize that there is more to the world than their town, ward or branch, they too may be asking “um. . . who else is here” in God’s kingdom? Looking to add more multicultural flavor to your Primary? Try these ideas:

God bless the children — ALL the children — wherever in the world they are.

-Marci

 

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Meeting Children At Their Level

lds.org

Today’s guest author is Emma Lu, a wife, mother, grandmother, writer and music therapist who is inspired by children.

Children are a heritage from the Lord; they are a reward from him. (Psalm 127:3, New International Version)

It is true, children at times can be rowdy, but if we look we will always enjoy the angels inside. You’ve just got to love them.

The Primary sacrament meeting presentation was about to begin. The busy Primary president saw a 10-year-old boy sitting with legs folded together, arms crossed, and scowling face, defiantly pouting at the base of the pulpit in the chapel. She went over to him, knelt down by his side, and spoke softly to him. Then she stood and went about caring for other children. The boy then stood with a smile on his face and joined his class. It showed those of us who watched the tense scene how the boy’s attitude was changed by a loving leader. I asked the Primary president to tell me her wisdom. She said, “It is important to meet a child on his/her level, whether it is physical, emotional, or spiritual. All children need understanding.”

To have the privilege of working in Primary is fulfilling a promise from the scriptures: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6, King James Version)

– Emma Lu

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Supporting refugees: Children are needed!

IWasAStranger.lds.org

IWasAStranger.lds.org

Click on the photo to watch the 1 minute video.

To all of our readers, throughout the USA and in the 168 countries who have visited this blog, we express our love and support for you and your neighbors, no matter what religion or none, no matter what skin color, no matter who you are or where you live — you are God’s child and we love you.

On Saturday, January 28, 2017, the following was published on Mormon Newsroom, the official LDS media source: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is concerned about the temporal and spiritual welfare of all of God’s children across the earth, with special concern for those who are fleeing physical violence, war and religious persecution. The Church urges all people and governments to cooperate fully in seeking the best solutions to meet human needs and relieve suffering.”

Latter-day children of all faiths (or none) can join the effort! It can be as simple as befriending someone new, or as robust as these ideas:

Teach children these songs to help them internalize this message and apply it every, EVERY day:

  • “Jesus said love everyone, treat them kindly too.” Children’s Songbook, 61
  • “If you don’t talk like most people do, some people talk and laugh at you, but I won’t! I won’t!” from “I’ll Walk with You,” CS, 140
  • “I’m trying to be like Jesus.” CS, 68

“For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; Naked, and ye clothed me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”   Matthew 25:35-36 #IWasAStranger

God bless the refugees and those who seek to help them.

-Marci

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Service with Kids in 0, yes Zero, Minutes

You read that right. Zero minutes. Yes, service with kids.

Service rightly takes center stage in December, thinking of others at this joyous time of celebrating the Savior’s birth. I love the church’s “25 ways over 25 days” — an advent calendar of 30-second videos and service project ideas until Dec. 25. But busy, overwhelmed parents and Primary leaders may feel like they’re doing well to get through another day! How can we add more thing to a busy season, added on top of a busy life?

Michelle puts it this way: “I would just like to remind all of us to recognize and give ourselves credit for ALL the amazing things we are already doing for our family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. We are raising children, serving in our church congregations, teaching our children morals, visiting our neighbors, volunteering at school, smiling at our fellowman, offering words of encouragement, supporting our spouses, helping our extended families and so so much more! These acts of service do not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

“During your lunch break, or if you’re doing dishes today or sit down to fold laundry here’s a little workshop video all about service and how to ‘Create a Culture of Service’ in our families without killing ourselves: Video Workshop: Kids and Service.” Check out the resource sheet and service grids on that same page with ideas for service projects that can be completed in 0 minutes, 5 minutes, a few hours, or 1/2 day.

Service in zero minutes? It boils down to doing something you’re already doing, but focusing it on service. You can have books in your home about being a good friend and neighbor, post a picture of someone your family knows who is serving a mission, or genuinely say “You really tried hard on that” or “I love you.” And never underestimate the power of children and families simply praying for someone in need — a refugee, a family member, a ward member, or a stranger. God hears and answers those prayers offered to Him as genuine acts of service — calling down the powers of heaven on behalf of someone in need.

Also see:

Make it a merry Christmas — through service in as little as zero minutes!

God bless,

Marci

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The Power of Music and Sign Language in the home, community and Primary classes

ocdeaf.org

ocdeaf.org

Today’s guest author is Pamela, aka Grammy Pammy, whose motto is Make your influence felt in a positive way. She writes:

Our two oldest grandsons were diagnosed with autism when they were very young.  Aunts, uncles and grandparents rallied to support by learning enough American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate with the one diagnosed as non-verbal.  Years later, he speaks as well as anyone—when he has something to say.

With ASL still fresh in my mind, I was asked to help with the nursery in our ward.  I wondered if their fidgety little hands would better focus on singing if they were signing some of the words as we sang. I taught the nursery children a few signs to use during Singing Time.  Eureka!   They became more focused on singing.  Doing signs helped them remember the words to the songs and helped them keep their hands to themselves.

One of the nursery teachers had an older son who needed to do a service project. She and her family went to a local nursing home and entertained the residents, many of whom were hard of hearing. Doing the signs helped the elderly folks connect to the music and feel the joy of being engaged. It was a wonderful event for the singers and listeners alike.

-Pamela

For related posts, see “Why Sign Language?”

“Music in Nursery: Teaching the Gospel” and

“Music”

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Kids Answering Each Other’s Questions

This intriguing idea comes from the new manual “Teaching in the Savior’s Way,” page 24: “Invite learners to help answer questions. When prompted by the Spirit, you may decide to do this even if you feel that you know the answer. When you ask learners to search the scriptures and other Church resources for answers to gospel questions, you provide them with excellent learning opportunities.”

There are at least three advantages I can think of to having children answer each others’ questions:

  1. The best way to really learn something is to teach it to someone else.
  2. Children might hear a message more clearly when it comes from a peer, in kid-friendly words, than when it comes from an adult. Videos like the above, of children explaining gospel principles in their own words, can speak to a child in ways that grownup words can’t. It always astonishes me what children will do when invited by a peer that they would never do when invited by an adult. (See more Bible videos for kids by kids at https://www.mormonchannel.org/watch/collection/childrens-bible-videos/)

However, the teacher must take care to not let a few children dominate and answer every question. Open-ended questions like “What do you think about ____?” or “How have you seen this work in your life?” are questions that any child can answer, since there is no right or wrong. You may need to be more blunt to balance airtime for all: “Let’s hear from someone we haven’t heard from yet.” Or “Who hasn’t had a chance to share their thoughts yet?” You can say “Take a minute to think about this, then let’s hear your ideas” to give more time to everyone to ponder the question before someone pops up with an answer.

Besides, when you let children answer each other’s questions you just might learn something “out of the mouths of babes”! (3 Nephi 26:16 and Psalm 8:2).

-Marci

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Autism, Life Threatening Food Allergies and Primary

photo provided by author

photo provided by author

Today’s guest author is DeeDee, a wife and mother of two who loves the temple and loves to be outdoors enjoying nature with her family. See her 3 specific suggestions below about caring for her children in Primary. 

My beautiful son is four years old. He was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at age 3. My amazing eight-year-old daughter has life threatening (anaphylactic) allergies. Both of these conditions shape our children’s experience in Primary.

What is it like to have a child with autism at church? For me it is wonderfully challenging, but I recognize it’s an opportunity for growth and development, for both me and for my child. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a variable diagnosis. That means each child with ASD has unique strengths and challenges. Before my son was diagnosed he was struggling in nursery. A sentence kept going through my mind at that time, “The one matters.” I know that every child matters to the Lord and belongs in Primary, at church and in other church activities. Figuring out how to make that happen is the challenge.

What is it like having a child with life-threatening anaphylactic allergies at church? Life-threatening allergies are about safety. I want my daughter to be safe at church, in Primary and at church activities. It is scary for me to know that if my child eats a certain food it can result in a life-threatening allergic reaction. This makes church different for me than it was before I had a child with severe food allergies. My husband and I are diligent about constantly checking to see if food is involved at church. Sometimes snacks are given in class or as a reward for performances (like Primary programs). Other times food is used to make crafts, provide service or celebrate holidays. We have strict rules for our daughter about food & washing hands. She is very careful about what she touches and eats at church. My guard is always up to some degree at church because I want her to be safe and have a good experience.

What has helped our family:

1. We take responsibility for our children. My husband and I have learned that it is our responsibility to ensure our children are set up for success in Primary. Simply dropping them off doesn’t work. Our experience has been that things go best when we communicate our children’s unique needs with ward and Primary leadership so we can partner with them in helping our children do well in Primary. My 4-year-old son with autism doesn’t communicate verbally like many children his age. When he was diagnosed I notified our Primary presidency and spoke with his nursery leader about his unique challenges. His wonderful nursery leader did well with him, keeping the classroom calm and encouraging open play that doesn’t require 2-way verbal communication. She speaks to him as she does other children but also gives him gentle nudges to help him as needed. I also shared with her behavioral signs that may suggest he is having a difficult time, when it may be best to include me or my husband. Similarly, my daughter can’t eat nuts. Her life threatening allergic reactions can result in death or serious injury. My husband and I take responsibility for her condition by sharing applicable medical information with Primary leaders and our plan to help her if she has a reaction in Primary. We keep emergency medication near her at all times and ask to approve any food offered her in Primary. We hope that Primary leaders and teachers appreciate the steps we take to educate and include them so they aren’t left to interpret things on their own.

2. Have realistic expectations. We attempt to maintain realistic expectations at church. Church leaders, Primary leaders and teachers are imperfect people, volunteers at best. They make mistakes and can misinterpret things like we all do. A Primary leader may misinterpret my son’s behavior. A teacher may bring a snack my daughter is allergic to and forget to check with us first. These things can happen, and it helps to remind us to keep working with ward and Primary leaders.

3. Listen to the Spirit. Numerous times at church my husband or I have felt prompted to check on one of our children in Primary, sometimes urgently. We recognize these as promptings from Holy Ghost and are very grateful for them.

~DeeDee

 

For related posts, see Special Needs page and

Helping children accept others with special needs

Also see “Accepting Allergies” by Thira Christianson from a kids’ point of view in the Friend magazine, Sept 2011, 18-19.

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Safe and Loved in Primary

Coloring page from lds.org, artist is Cora Lu, age 7

Coloring page from lds.org, artist is Cora Lu, age 7

Although it has been decades since Emma Lu was in Primary, her story illustrates how Primary can influence a child for eternity. Today’s guest author Emma Lu is a wife, mother of seven, and grandmother. She is an author and lecturer, and she enjoys writing histories and life events.

As a young child, I hurried along the cool, dry sidewalk toward the church-house. I had an appointment to keep. I did not want to be late.

When I arrived at the chapel, I joined my friends on the church bench, where my feet barely touched the floor. As I sat there, listening to soft music on the piano, I knew I was in the right place at the right time. My home seemed so unhappy and messed up. Often times my mother and dad didn’t speak to each other. It was a cold war. My sister and I lived in fear, because of my dad’s occasional demons of alcoholism. But at Primary I felt happy, safe, and loved. Primary made all the difference.

Just like today, we began with an opening prayer followed by singing time. The chorister was a jolly woman whose well-groomed hands led us in the fun and sacred Primary songs. Often she told us we were bearing our testimonies in song. I felt a warm, joyous feeling and with gusto raised my singing voice. She encouraged my love and talent for music.

Our classrom teacher gave each child personal love. As she shook my hand, she cupped her hands around mine and gave me a pat on the back. I remember the twinkle in her eyes as she told wonderful stories of Jesus and led us in rousing classroom discussions. For me, one benfit of being in her class was to open a need for Christ and his teachings. My testimony blossomed in Primary.

I saw my teacher often in our neighborhood, and her eyes always had the same twinkle sending love. To me she appeard as if she were a heavenly angel. I felt she needed me and I needed her.

It has been some time since I attended Primary as a child, but guess what? I still love Primary. Today when I hear the beautiful children’s songs my mind and feelings wander back to our choister and teacher extending love to children. They both were on an errand for Christ. He said, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:16).

I love Primary. It was my salvation, my place of learning, my place of peace.

-Emma Lu

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