After teaching the Come Follow Me program last year and now teaching the five year olds I have come to some conclusions and observations.
– The way we teach in primary should be similar to the Come Follow Me program.
– Children, even as young as five, should be learning how to teach.
– Children, even as young as five, want to teach. (They told me so.)
– They participate more when they are expected to help teach.
– The lessons in the manuals teach the lessons but are terribly outdated. I would love to see a new curriculum introduced with new stories that fit our times better and includes more interaction and responsibility on the child’s part.
Just as important as learning the doctrine of the gospel is, so is teaching them how to build relationships and how to teach each other. Many will be in the same classes together until they reach 18 years old. You can’t assume they know how, or have the time in church or activities to make those relationships happen or that they will happen at school. Many will group together and be friends, but we should be helping them to grow up as a group so that no one is excluded… and teach them how to welcome newcomers. We’ve done this in our class and it makes a difference.
Building relationships in the church will help build Zion. Giving the children the opportunity to prepare part of the lesson will help them learn.
90% of information is retained when teaching. Discussion groups is 50%. Practice by doing is 75%. Only 5% of information presented in lectures is retained. (The National Training Laboratories Bethel, Maine.)
I know it sounds nuts. They don’t know the gospel yet and so we need to teach them, right? Yes, but what and how we are teaching them matters. Our job isn’t to help them memorize a principle. Our job is to love them and bring them to Christ so He can teach them. We need to mentor them on how and what to teach and how to share their simple yet profound testimonies as they gain them. We need to help them grow up as a unit and a force for good in the world.
Testimony brings many people into the church, but it is relationships that often bind them to it long enough to be fortified by Christ. My point is that we need to start those relationship building skills as soon as a child enters primary. And we need to give them every opportunity to teach so that they will really learn how to teach each other. If anything can keep children active in the gospel it is these two principles because they will learn to love and teach like Christ. The same principles should be applied at home.
Do you see the vision? Can you image God’s army as it can be?
“Behold, it came to pass on the morrow that the multitude gathered themselves together, and they both saw and heard these children; yea, even babes did open their mouths and utter marvelous things;” 3 Nephi 26:16