Monday, January 5, 2009

Loving The Scriptures

GAK 326

Janarah is a sister of mine. I don't know her but she left me a comment (in bold) and if we were having a conversation, the italicized words would be my response. She had a good question that I'd thought I'd share.

Hi, I just found your blog. Hooray! You are just amazing. You're amazing Janarah! I love your exotic name. You have been blessed with a great talent. Thank you for sharing it with everyone. You are kind. All these thoughts are from our Father above. There have been countless times that I consider miracles where I've been lead to certain scriptures or an analogy pops up that just makes really good sense. I believe there are walls of water around us, not necessarily like those of the ancient children of Israel, but the miraculous power of God is very close. I do have a question for you. Sorry Janarah, am I rambling? I tend to do that. I am in the primary presidency. We have the hardest time getting our Sr. Primary to open their scriptures and look something up. Most of the time they complain that they have to get them out and then a lot of them have a really hard time finding the scripture. We have tried to make it into a chase, but the younger ones don't have any chance at all to get it. Do you have any great motivating ideas?

I don't know about great... but here are some thoughts. And it's not directed specifically at you my sister Janarah, but in general to all of us serving in Primary.

1. Are you reading your scriptures daily? We as teachers need to be in top spiritual condition because we are teaching His precious ones. When we have the spirit with us, Primary will go smoother and the fastest way to invite the spirit in your life is to consistently read the scriptures. Plus how can we encourage them to be excited about the scriptures if we aren't.

2. Bring up the Savior. Ask the question, with a little sigh, I wonder how Jesus feels right now when we complain about our scriptures? (If there is a picture of Christ, stand close to it and look at it. Then look at the children.) We don't need to spend 10 minutes lecturing the children and turning primary into a you're-not-being-reverent fest. If you say that question out loud it should take you a whole 10 seconds. Little reminders go a long way and can make a big difference! Another one could include, Our primary is a place where we come to feel the spirit. When we don't show love for our scriptures or murmur about them do you think the spirit wants to be with us? Again, if you say it out loud it should take maybe 12 seconds. You don't need to give them the evil eye or single them out and embarrass them. Little reminders go a long way.

3. How are you asking them to take out their scriptures? If there is a problem may I suggest rewording your questions. Instead of, "Please turn to Hebrews 12:12. What does this scripture mean?" try "Christina, please take Jacob's hand and raise it in the air. Ok! Hold it there! Have I got a scripture for you, let's go to Hebrews... where's that at? Right! The New Testament in the Bible, which is bigger than the Book of Mormon. Chapter 12, Verse 12. Who feels comfortable reading that? Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down.... hmmmm. Does this mean we need to always have our hands lifted in the air? Thanks Christina and Jacob for your help and Hannah for reading." It's a little bit more enthusiastic. You've got a visual and movement to go along with it. And it's different from the norm. So... try rewording. Also are you asking for a 10 verse scriputre? Think about length. Just think about it.

4. Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. You can never get too much of a good thing. Ask where the book of Matthew is found? Hold up the Bible and the Book of Mormon to show the difference of size. We look at the top of the page to find the books and chapters. There is an index at the beginning! Then have the children repeat ways back to you on how to find scriptures? Do this often! Repetition! Some children aren't going to learn this at home, don't assume anything. Learn together the songs in the primary children's songbook p.114, p.116, and p.119.

5. Write the scripture on the board and spell it out loud as you do so. E-C-C-L-E-S-E-A-S-T-E-S, wow! That's a mouthful and a lot of letters! Most 8-11 year olds have a hard time pronouncing let alone knowing how to spell something which would in turn make it harder to look up.

6. Encourage the children to HELP EACH OTHER. Once you've found it, how many others can you help? Teachers aren't glued to their chairs either. Getting up improves circulation. Even the pianist can help! Let's find the scripture! And then of course, let them know how proud you are to see them helping each other. Ask, Do you think our Savior is smiling right now because of your kindness? I fear our children don't hear enough how truly wonderful they are.

7. Is your environment safe? Is primary a time where children can be honest and themselves? Is it OK for the children to make reading mistakes in your primary... or is there snickering from other children? Are teachers constantly correcting them as they read? Because that is a total killjoy. You need to make sure Primary is a place where children feel safe. A place where they can read and be happy. Some children really don't feel comfortable reading.

Don't force them.
Let them read without interrupting them.
If they look to you for help, help them.
If they make a mistake, is it really that big of a deal?
If it's a short scripture they could all read it together! This is called choral reading.
Give them 1 minute to read it to themselves... it doesn't always have to be read out loud!
And of course thank them and tell them great job when they are finished! Don't forget!!
Create that place where the spirit can thrive. Where children are comfortable reading.

8. Have visuals... yes, even for senior sharing time. We're going to take a deeper look at the journey of Lehi's family in the wilderness. Hold up a Gospel Art Kit 301. Picture yourself riding a camel! It might sound like fun, but let's go to the first book of Nephi... right in the front of what? the bible? Right! Almost! First book in the Book of Mormon. Chapter 17. Verse 4. Frank, thanks for reading it for us! 8 years!!!! On a camel!! Let's take a vote, raise your hand if you think you could travel for 8 years on a camel!! Visuals can help the scriptures be more real.(Hold up the picture again... close where they can actually see)

9. Don't ask for volunteers. Call on people politely. Choose your readers carefully... which means you have to know your children, so get to know them! I'm not saying always choose the good readers, but help build the confidence of those who aren't as strong with smaller scriptures. And thank them with words and plenty of smiles.

10. When starting your lesson express how happy you are everyone brought their scriptures. And be genuine about it. The best lesson I've ever facilitated was when I felt prompted to completely drop the lesson and ask them to take out their scriptures and inform them they would be teaching each other and myself. I asked them one thing. Prove to me and to each other that God is real. You can use your scriptures or hymn books. I gave them a good 5 minutes to look whatever they wanted up. Some didn't know where to start. We looked at the topical guides. I called on children I knew would be ready, some still needed more time. They quickly caught on to the idea that hymns have scriptures that go along with them. It really was beyond words. After the lesson, I was bearing testimony and every single child still had their heads buried in the scriptures searching for more. That was one of the happiest moments in my life. I felt so very close to the Savior.

Let us never underestimate the power of the scriptures. Please know these are just personal opinions. I'm not an expert. If you pray to Heavenly Father He will answer... much much much times infinity better than I ever could. Still it is my hope that these words can be food for thought.
Much love to you Sister Janarah and all you wonderful Primary workers out there striving to make the world a better place, one child at a time!


Veronica Tyler said...

These are some great suggestions!

Just one more - I have my kids take a little post-it note & attatch it to the index page. I know it's right up front, but this way they can flip right to it and start searching faster - It was such a small thing, but very useful! (We also put one on the AOF page this past year while we were memorizing them.)

Janarah said...

Thank you so much. That gave me a lot of great ideas.

Liz said...

This was an awesome response! Thank you for sharing it!

One thing I always did when I was teaching CTR 8 was also tell them the page number, which seemed to help them a lot! My class of 9 kids loved to read and this was one of the best ways I found to keep their attention and to have reverence in our classroom.

Michelle Tweedy said...

I just found your blog today. It is fantastic. You have such a talent for words and teaching. I will be checking back often. Thanks for your great service to all of the Primary teachers and presidency members out there!

ShaneandLauraFamily said...

Thank you so much for your dedication to our Heavenly Father's children, you are such a help. On that note, do you have any suggestions on what to do when children are completely disrespectful or mean to other children? As a presidency we want to maintain a positive environment as we address this issue but feel that it needs to be addressed as there has been problems both in and outside primary. We have about 120 children between junior and senior primary. Any suggestions and help is much appreciated!

Shahnie said...

WOW! I love coming here and reading your insight. This is a huge challenge in my wards primary. . .and it's tiny tiny! All these ideas are wonderful, thank you so much for sharing them.

Sofia's Primary Ideas said...

Sisters - I love you all! May God be with you as you teach... I wish I could visit and see the amazing things taking place within your primaries. You are all great, thanks again!!

Tamara said...

What a wonderful, insightful blog! I will be coming back often. Thank you for taking the time to write down your thoughts and ideas. It has been a great help-

Sofia's Primary Ideas said...

Sister Tamara- Thank you! It's only insightful because the Lord helps me!

Shantell said...
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SoJo and MaNini said...
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