I absolutely love teaching Primary. I can't say it is easy all the time. But I feel like Heavenly Father is giving me a chance to spend time with little children. I so miss young motherhood; teaching Primary makes up for this in a small way. This week it is my privilege to teach my sweet children that Jesus commanded us to love everyone. As I read the lesson, I felt inspired to teach the lesson according to charity: 1 Corinthians 13 and Moroni 7:43-48. Nobody should guess what it means to love everyone as Jesus did, when we've been given the definition of His pure love.
With 5-year-old children, the easiest of these concepts to understand is kindness. They all know how it feels to be treated kindly and vice versa. When my little granddaughter visited me in December, I often sang to her to teach about behavior. Two favorites were:
A Special gift is kindness.
Such happiness it brings.
When I am kind to others,
My heart sings.
I want to be kind to everyone,
For that is right you see.
So I say to myself, remember this.
Kindness begins with me.
I'll sing them to the children after I read, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another," John 13:34.
Then I'll display a picture of Jesus blessing children and sing...
I think when I read that sweet story of old,
When Jesus was here among men,
How he called little children like lambs to his fold;
I should like to have been with him then.
I wish that his hands had been placed on my head,
That his arms had been thrown around me,
That I might have seen his kind look when he said,
“Let the little ones come unto me.
By then my little people will be done with sitting still and ready for action.
First we'll play this memory game.
Then we'll play the crown game from the lesson book.
Invite "one of the children to sit on a chair in the center of the room and pretend to be a prince or princess sitting on a throne. The prince or princess is not allowed to speak, while the other children say everything positive that they can think of about him or her. They may say things such as, “She has a nice smile”; “I like the color of his hair”; “She’s reverent in class”; “He shares the crayons with me.” Crown the prince or princess with a simple crown. Give each child a turn to be the prince or princess."
If there is time left, we'll use the paper doll activity from the lesson book. I'll make a string of paper dolls for each child and invite them to color them as we talk about helping others feel loved. (They can say kind things to each other, not leave people out when they are playing, be good listeners, and help each other when there is a problem.)
Another idea used in the manual is showing love by being a good listener. When other people are speaking, we should listen closely and not interrupt. Since my very first time teaching primary over 30 years ago, I've always taught the children about talking in turn. However, I never thought of it as love. I've labeled it respect. Now when I give each child a chance to tell us the interesting or important things they did the previous week, I'll include love and respect in my vocabulary. How?
Often a child of five gets so excited by new thoughts that they bubble over and interrupt. They don't understand they are being rude. Instead of getting impatient with them, I simply state, 'It is Tommy's turn to talk. We need to be respectful of our friends. Please, wait until your turn.' Then I turn my full attention back to Tommy. Each child is given a turn to tell about their week, learning quickly the rules of polite classroom behavior. Then during lesson time, they are just fine with the fact that it is my turn to talk. I keep sitting still to a minimum especially considering they've already been at church for 2 hours sitting as still as they can. Our sit down time is very short. Game time and coloring take up most of our time as covert gospel lessons, where they also have opportunity to visit with their friends. Two other strategies I use is stopping at the bathroom and drinking fountain before class as well as allowing them to take off their shoes by the door.