No Greater Call
by Debra Coe (c) all right reserved
The main job of the Primary Organization is to teach. Of all the ward organizations, Primary usually has by far the largest staff of teachers. Good teaching alone will determine how many discipline problems will arise and general atmosphere of your Primary.
As a stake Primary president, I watched one ward struggled with numerous discipline problems, it just seemed that few of their many Primary children could behave. This caused a lot of frustration and took a lot of time and effort. After emphasizing good teaching and a loving atmosphere, this same group of Primary Children turned into one of the best behaved Primaries in the Stake in a matter of a few months. The difference was not in the children, it was in the teaching and attitudes to the call to teach that made the difference.
Every child in Primary is important and each is worth our every effort. I have known more than one adult who was blessed all of their lives because someone cared enough to help them attend Primary when their parents didn't fill this role. I have heard these adults tell how important this was to them and how much positive difference it made in their lives and in the lives of the children.
The difficult children need you most. As I understand it, adults with serious problems in their lives tend to act inward (depression) where children tend to act outward (behavior problems.) If this is true, behavior problems are a way that the child sends the message "I need help" and asks the question "do love and care about me no matter what." There is an outstanding Church film that addresses this issue called "Teacher Do You Love Me?" I think every Primary worker should view this film. If you haven't seen it you should. It is a true story and one that helps me to see into the hearts of difficult children. -- Be sure to bring your tissues -- you'll need them!!
"Good teaching is one-forth preparation and three-fourths theater."
- Gail Godwin
What if you have less active children in your class? Unfortunately it is often easier to not worry about these children, but then we must ask ourselves, "What would the Savior do if He were the teacher of this class?" I don't think any of us have any doubt that the Savior would "leave the ninety and nine and go after the one" and try in some way to include these children and reach out to them. As their Primary teacher you are called to help them feel the love, care and concern of their Savior, Jesus Christ, and of their Heavenly Father which is an important need of all children.
Here are a few ideas of how to include these children:
Have a class newsletter that comes out once a month. A newsletter could be beneficial for many reasons. In the newsletter you could include what your lessons for the month have been about so parents are aware of topics their children might be thinking about; it gives a place to recognize individual children and their birthdays or other achievements, trips they have taken, etc; provides a place to compliment children for good behavior; and of course would be given to less active children so they are also included. Be sure to have contact with their parents so that you don't miss their birthdays and can recognize their achievements in your newsletter too. A small newsletter would also help these children to not feel like they are a stranger when they do attend Primary.
Deliver Copies of Special Activities or Object lessons: Whenever you have special object lesson where the object is something easily given to the child (such as a mustard seed), write the object lesson on a nice card or paper and take it along with the object for the child to keep.
On Religious related holidays take something special to them: For ideas of how many holidays can be turned to "Holy Days" see the web page "Holidays to Holy Days" Children love to receive small gifts, even if it is just a cookie in a special shape. Remember these less active children when each holidays comes around and let them know that you are thinking of them and love them and take a something that will help them remember the Savior as they celebrate each holiday.
Classroom Corner: Lots of good suggestions and ideas for teachers of all Primary age children
Classroom Management: More suggestions and ideas for teachers
"Whosoever will be great among you . . . shall be servant of all."
God never imposes a duty without giving time to do it.
John Ruskin (1819- 1900)
There is a certain law in teaching: If you aren't having a wonderful time, the children aren't enjoying it either. This is the time to stop and realize that you are doing something wrong because real teaching is a great experience for both teacher and student.
Do you not know, then, that the beginning in every task is the chief thing, especially for any creature that is young and tender? For it is then that it is best molded and takes the impression that one wishes to stamp upon it.
In our lovely Deseret, Where the Saints of God have met, There's a multitude of Children all around. They are generous and brave; They have precious souls to save; They must listen and obey the gospel's sound.
That the children may live long And be beautiful and strong, Tea and coffee and tobacco they despise, Drink no liquor, and they eat But a very little meat; They are seeking to be great and good and wise.
They should be instructed young How to watch and guard the tongue, And their tempers train and evil passions bind; They should always be polite, And treat everybody right, And in every place be affable and kind.
They must not forget to pray, Night and morning every day, For the Lord to keep them safe from every ill, And assist them to do right, that With all their mind and might, They may love him and may learn to do his will.
Hark! hark! hark! 'tis children's music -- Children's voices oh, how sweet When in innocence and love, Like the angels up above, They with happy hearts and cheerful faces meet.
Eliza R. Snow
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