Wednesday, December 30, 2009

10 Tips for Primary Children

© Rachelle J. Christensen

“Dear children, our Heavenly Father sent you to earth at this time because you are some of His most valiant children. He knew there would be much wickedness in the world today, and He knew you could be faithful and obedient.
Dear child, you are God’s gift to your parents, and the gift your parents can give God is to bring you back to Him sweet and pure and faithful.
He expects your parents and leaders to teach you, to walk beside you, and to be shining examples to you so that you will know the way you should go. They must spend time with you and love you and pray with you and for you.
Your leaders must call faithful men and women to teach you in Primary. We must provide experiences for you early in your life that will help you know how to live the gospel.
God bless the children of this Church. How I love you! How Heavenly Father loves you! And may we, as your parents, teachers, and leaders, be more childlike—more submissive, more meek, and more humble.” (Ezra Taft Benson, “To the Children of the Church,” Friend, Jun 1989, 3)

The Primary program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is so important! Following are 10 tips to help kids get the most out of Primary:
1. Set the mood before church by allowing extra time to get ready. When you rush it is difficult to feel the Spirit. Play church music while you get ready or hum a hymn. Anything you can do to make feeling the Spirit more accessible in your home will carry over to church and make for a more pleasant experience.

2. Obtain a list of the songs the children are learning from the primary chorister or other member of the Primary presidency. Incorporate these songs into your Family Home Evening. Read through the words in the songs and talk about what they mean. Practice singing the songs using instruments, the Primary Children’s CD collection, or listening to the songs on LDS.org.

3. Family Home Evening is essential in helping kids learn and enjoy being a part of Primary. When you hold Family Home Evening, mimic the same style of opening exercises used in Primary to help your child become accustomed to being reverent and learn what to expect. For example, begin with a song, then prayer, scripture or article of faith, a family theme (primary theme), and then the lesson or talk. This is also a great time to teach your children about raising their hands before speaking as they will do in Primary.

4. Ask your children what they learned about today in Primary. To circumvent the famous, “I don’t know” answer which usually comes from a question like, “How was class, primary, or what did you learn from your lesson?” Instead ask your child, “What was your favorite part?”
You can ask them, “What are three things you learned today?” Or “What were your three most favorite things you did in Primary today?” This works every time with my kids to get them really thinking about what they enjoyed and keeps their mind on a positive wavelength concerning Primary. Talk as a family and decide what you could do to implement what was learned that day in Primary. Make a reminder note of a principle learned and post it on your fridge or calendar.

5. Give kids a chance to practice talks, scriptures, or articles of faith during family scripture study time or prayer. Reciting scriptures or articles of faith at the breakfast table can be a helpful way to get some extra practice time in. Talk to your kids about stage fright; help them recognize the feelings of nervousness. Teach them that it’s okay to feel this way so they will be less likely to freeze up when it’s time to participate. Explain that everyone feels nervous sometimes and think of ways to overcome these feelings.

6. Talk about reverence and what it means. How can we show reverence? Practice being reverent with a variation of the quiet game—whoever talks or moves first is out. Have an older sibling be an example or model to a younger child of what reverence means.

7. Get acquainted with your child’s teacher. Call them by name, Brother or Sister Smith for example, when you talk to your child about Primary. This helps your children identify who their teacher is with a name instead of just ‘teacher’. Another idea to help kids feel comfortable with a new teacher is to have a short visit outside of church with them or allow your child to take a small note or treat to their teacher.

8. Talk to your kids about using the bathroom during Primary. Discuss different scenarios, such as the water fountain or what they should do if they have a runny or itchy nose. Talking about situations beforehand will help your child avoid mishaps later.

9. If there is a child with special needs or even a child who is perhaps very shy in the class, make an extra effort to include them. Maybe you could invite them for a play date or have your child take them a treat and visit them. Talk to your child about how Jesus loves everyone and we are all special. Discuss scenarios of what your child could do if they noticed someone being unkind to another child in Primary.

10. Heavenly Father and Jesus love us so they created Primary. Remember how precious our children are—they are a gift from Heavenly Father! They can feel the Spirit. Give them confidence in the knowledge that they are sons and daughters of God. Encourage them to understand their individual worth. Encourage them to look forward to attending Primary and learning more about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I am a Child of God
And so my needs are great;
Help me to understand his words
Before it grows to late.


Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him someday.
(Hymns, no. 301)

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