Sunday, June 25, 2017

What's so Wonderful about Primary


It seems a common attitude that you can only have "so much" of children.
 Parents are learning enough from their children at home, they should have a "break" from children at church and learn and converse with adults. I have been surprised, however, how much I've grown spiritually while serving in Primary (the children's organization in church). I would say I've learned more from the children's example than I have from most of my adult experiences. I had the opportunity to do a teacher training for our Primary teachers, and while preparing I found this list in Teaching, No Greater Call that helped me understand some of what it is about children that has been so instructive to me (found here). 
Children are believing. They believe what you say. They are receptive to the truth. You have an obligation to teach them correct doctrine simply and clearly, with language and examples that they can understand.
Children can recognize the influence of the Spirit. Teach them that the feelings of peace, love, and warmth they have when they talk or sing of Jesus Christ and His gospel come from the Holy Ghost. Help them understand that these feelings are part of a testimony.
Children take things literally. Everything is real to them. If you use complex metaphors to teach sacred gospel principles, they may become confused. Help children learn the gospel by discussing events and activities familiar to them: home, family, and the world around them. Make certain that they do not misunderstand what you teach.
Children are curious and eager to learn. They enjoy learning through varied and new experiences. They want to move about, use all their senses, explore, and try new things. Older children like the challenge of answering questions and solving problems. The children in your class will be more attentive and excited about learning when you use a variety of teaching methods and activities to teach gospel principles.
Children are loving and want to be loved and accepted themselves. Look for opportunities to reinforce the kind and loving behavior that comes naturally to children. Because children want to please you and enjoy helping others, give them opportunities to serve. Ask them to carry your books, hold pictures, or answer questions. Encourage them to help one another. Show your love for them. Build their confidence by expressing your appreciation for their efforts whenever possible. Listen attentively to what they say.
Children will follow your example. You are always teaching, even when you are not aware of it. You often teach more by your attitude and example than by your words. For example, children will notice whether you treat the scriptures respectfully. They will observe how you speak about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. They will watch how you live the principles you are teaching. Your righteous example will help them develop greater feelings of love and respect for Heavenly Father and His Son.
Little children have short attention spans, and they cannot sit still very long. Do not expect too much from them. Recognize that inattentive behavior might mean that they are tired or hungry, that they do not understand something you have said, that they need to move, or that they are bored. The best way to keep their attention and help them learn is to encourage them to participate in lessons. Because children have an abundance of energy, plan ways to allow them to move or to see, hear, smell, or touch something as part of each lesson. They enjoy learning through repetition, simple stories, songs, and activities.

After reading this list I recognized that this list about children is so reflective of every person in their true form, adult or not. We are inherently curious and eager to learn. We want desperately to be loved and accepted. And we have short attention spans ;). The other ones we are trying desperately to bring back into our lives: to be believing, to recognize and keep the influence of the spirit, to follow Jesus Christ's example. This is why it's so instructive for me to be in Primary, to remember that I can be like this. When I strip myself of the pride and egotism that is standard in our society, I am like this.

It says in Mosiah 3:19: "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father."

In this context a 'saint,' someone who acts like Jesus Christ, and a child have the same attributes. If so, what a special privilege we have to learn from the "source" itself: little children!

As you teach children, you will find that you receive special blessings. Children will bring joy to your soul and prompt you to be a good example. As you come to recognize the faithfulness, love, trust, and hope of children, you will grow closer to the Lord and better understand His commandment to “become as little children” (Matthew 18:3). 

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