Sunday, June 12, 2011
Little children and gospel learning
I was reading in Teaching No Greater Call in the section about teaching children.
Sometimes I get thinking I have to teach my kids every principle of the gospel ASAP. We hear so much about their believing hearts and how we need to teach them when their young. What struck me about what I read was how simple the concepts were. Here's what is says about two-year olds.See also other age characteristics of children
Characteristics of the Child
• Is very active. Jumps, walks, and runs. Can clap hands and kick a ball. Can handle small objects, but cannot button or zip clothing or care for himself or herself in other ways. Gets irritable and restless when tired.
• Is able to put two or three words together in a sentence. Says “no” often, even when he or she does not mean it. Has simple, direct thoughts. Cannot reason. Can make simple choices. Enjoys repetition. Has a short attention span (two or three minutes). Is curious. Moves from one activity to another. Likes simple toys, art materials, books, short stories, and music activities.
• Likes to play alone. Is developing an interest in playing with others, but is usually more interested in playing near them than with them. Often argues over toys. Has difficulty sharing and cooperating. Asks adults for things he or she wants from another child.
• Is loving and affectionate. Enjoys sitting on laps and holding hands. Likes to be close to his or her mother. Uses emotional outbursts to express emotions, to get what he or she wants, and to show anger and frustration. Has moods that change quickly. Likes independence.
• Likes to pray. Understands that Heavenly Father and Jesus love us, but has difficulty understanding most spiritual concepts.
What realistic description to adjust our expectations to. They run and jump, and say no all the time. They have a hard time sharing BUT they already have a capacity to feel the Lord's love!
Suggestions for Parents and Teachers
• Use rest activities such as finger plays and those that use music. Provide activities such as beanbag tossing, marching, and jumping. Avoid activities that require skill and coordination, such as cutting and pasting.
• Keep discussions simple. Help the child participate. Use repetition. Do not leave the child alone; children this age can easily get themselves into unsafe situations. Provide opportunities for the child to make choices.
• Provide opportunities for the child to interact with others, but do not pressure the child to do so. Offer the choice to participate in activities. Provide warm, caring direction. Redirect misbehavior.
• Show love and affection. Redirect the child’s attention in order to stop undesirable behavior. Encourage the child to be self-sufficient, but provide help when necessary. Allow the child to practice making choices.
• Allow the child to pray. Focus spiritual concepts on the family and the love of Heavenly Father and Jesus.
That's it! Focus on that fact that they are loved by you and by the Lord! Because if they can gain a sense of those relationships, they rest of the gospel principles will make sense and have a strong foundation.
Yesterday we had a chance to "Allow" McKye to pray. He'd turned on the CD payer in his room (basically trying to avoid his nap, which he's probably ready to transfer out of and I am just NOT). Kids pick up pretty quick in the church, you sing= you pray (hence intermediate hymns really send em for a loop!) Well, after each song, he'd pause and say "Prayers! Prayers! HeabenLEE Fah-bur, mumble mumble mumble, JEEsus Ist, AAAMEN!!!!" (I realize this is a pretty usually little story, but around here we kinda get overly excited about kids actually developing language skills...cuz the whole proces is really nothing short of a miracle).
The gospel is so simple. I remember serving in primary thinking I would miss the adult classes, when in fact I LOVED primary because I felt that the Spirit could bear such powerful witness of the simple truths being taught in their beautiful simplicity.
On my mission we were teaching someone who expressed that they thought the Bible was too complicated. We made him a little one-inch "Bible" and on it's one page we wrote "God loves you".
His conversion ended up not coming from his in depth studies, but in one sacred moment when the Lord let him know in a very personal way that He knew him by name and loved him.
So while eventually I'll want my kids to know all the latter-day prophets, and scripture masteries, right now they can say like Nephi "I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things." (1 Nephi 11:17) And that's just fine.