Archive for the ‘teaching’ Tag

Mothers and Daughters

Reading: “Mothers and Daughters,” Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, April 2010 General Conference, Saturday Morning Session

In the past few conference Elder Ballard has focused on family relationships. Last time he spoke to father and sons, so this time he chose to speak to mothers and daughters. He first encouraged daughters to listen to their mothers. He then encouraged mothers to teach their daughters important lessons. These inlude:

  • Find joy in nurturing children
  • Don’t gossip or casually criticize others
  • How to nurture others (by example)
  • About sexual matters
  • To be modest
  • How to recognize the spirit

My own daughter is only two years old, but I can already see her emulating my example. I am often humored, and sometimes bothered, when she says to me the things I say to her all the time. I hope I can be a good example for my daughter, and provide the nurturing that she needs to grow up wise and strong.

What things did your mother do that helped you learn the most? How can you better reach out to the young women in your life to help them learn these important concepts.

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Saving Lives Through Teaching

Reading: “Teaching Helps Save Lives,” Russell T. Osguthorpe, Sunday School General President, October 2009 General Conference, Saturday Morning Session

When you go to visit the doctor, you go so that the doctor can share his knowledge with you and hopefully help you find answers to a problem.  In some circumstances that doctor can save your life with his knowledge.  As Elder Osguthorpe also points out in his talk, a gospel teacher can also save your life in much the same way. A good gospel teacher shares his or her knowledge so that you can find answers to your spiritual problems.

As a mother, I often think about how I should teach my children the gospel. Sometimes I feel like I have to come up with some list of important doctrine so that I make sure I don’t miss anything.  While such an activity might be useful, over and over again lately I feel like God is trying to tell me that the most important thing isn’t a formal system of instruction, but in inviting the Spirit and following its promptings.  Elder Osguthorpe quoted President Monson as saying:

The goal of gospel teaching . . . is not to ‘pour information’ into the minds of class members. . . . The aim is to inspire the individual to think about, feel about, and then do something about living gospel principles.

Elder Osguthorpe encourages us to follow the Spirit as we teach, and to show our students that we love them and really want them to learn what we have to teach.

What teachers in your life have had a special effect on you? What was it about them that touched you?


Helping Others Recognize the Spirit

Reading: “Helping Others Recognize the Whisperings of the Spirit,” Vicki F. Matsumori, Second Counselor in the Primary General Presidency

I often think about how I can teach my children to love the gospel.  Sometimes when I see the world around us I feel what I can do is inadequate to counter the outside pressures my children will face as they grow older.  In this talk Sister Matsumori gives several suggestions of ways we can help our children and others recognize the Spirit in their life.  These include:

  • Help them understand doctrine
  • Share your personal testimony
  • Provide an environment where the Spirit can be felt

This talk helped remind me that what I am trying to do is not so much force feed my testimony into my children’s heads, but rather to help them grow their own testimony.  A testimony will come from the Spirit witnessing to them personally. Their feeling the Spirit is something I can do much to encourage, but it is not something I can directly control. The Spirit is the source of testimony, and it is only through the Spirit that they can see the truthfulness of the things I want to teach them.

How do you help your children, or the people in your life, recognize the Spirit? What did your parents, or teachers, or others do that helped your testimony grow?

True Doctrine For Our Children

Reading: “Teaching True Doctrine,” Henry B. Eyring, Liahona, April 2009

If you have read this blog you know I have given a lot of thought to how to best teach my child(ren) the gospel.  I feel greatly the responsibility to teach my daughter the gospel, and I have seen consequnces that come from failing to do so.  I want our family united together in the gospel.

Sometimes, though, I feel silly talking to my 13 month old about gospel topics.  She can’t even talk yet, so it feels silly to say things to her like “God loves you,” or “God made the animals” and other such kid-sized doctrine.  Sometimes it seems like it would be better to just spend time together, or to do fun things to keep our relationship good.

In this talk, though, Elder Eyring assures that we should talk to our children about doctrine.  He says,

The question should not be whether we are too tired to prepare to teach doctrine or whether it would be better to draw a child closer by just having fun or whether the child is beginning to think that we preach too much. The question must be, “With so little time and so few opportunities, what words of doctrine from me will fortify them against the attacks on their faith which are sure to come?” The words you speak today may be the ones they remember. And today will soon be gone.

Even though my daughter cannot talk, she certainly can understand many of the things I say to her, even if she doesn’t understand the individual words. Why else do I talk to her so much about things during the day, like eating lunch or staying with me while we are out?

Talking to my daughter about the gospel also helps me get into a habit of teaching her true doctrine, so that when she is ready to listen I feel comfortable and ready to talk.

Today I am going to talk to my daughter about a gospel topic, even if I feel a little bit silly.

How do you teach your children the gospel?  Or, how will you teach your children about the gospel?  How can you teach them in a way they will understand?

Teaching Early and Often

Reading: “Teaching Morality to Your Children,” Terrance D. Olsen, Ensign, March 1981

Today I took my daughter to Peekabo Time at the local Babies R Us.  We had quite a lot of fun, and it was interesting to me to see her playing with the other children.  She is only 10 months old, but loves to be around other kids.  Sometimes, since she doesn’t really understand language yet, there were situations where I had to take her away.  I couldn’t explain to her that this toy was being played with by someone else, or that she needed to keep moving in the tunnel so the other kids could come through, so I just had to pick her up and remove her from the situation. (Mostly she just had a ton of fun.)

As I watched the older kids, though, I saw varying differences in how they handled the situation.  Some kids were shy, some kids were orderly and quiet at the appropriate times, and some needed more help from their parents.  They were too young to say that any of them behaved badly, but it was interesting to see how they handled the different situations.

All of this got me thinking ahead and how I can teach my own daughter the skills she will need as she gets older.  Right now those skills are as simple as learning to listen to commands, learning to share, learning to be gentle with other kids, and learning to sit for short periods of time.  Not that I expect her to learn them any time soon, but I do feel a responsibility to help her learn these important skills.

This lead me to seeking out a talk about teaching things to young children to write about today.  What I found was Olsen’s Ensign article on teaching morality to children.  I found this article to be a great primer on teaching children early, but appropriately.

One thing he encouraged was looking ahead five years and teaching children now the things they will need to know for that period of their lives.  For example, right now I would need to start to teach my daughter the skills she would need to go to school, and to teach her very basic concepts about the gospel.

He also said that by teaching our children correct principles, they will then extend that knowledge to the situations they face.  We can’t teach our children how to handle every situation they may encounter, but we can give them the knowledge they need to make the correct applications to those situations.

Today I am going to brainstorm in my journal about things that I would like to have my daughter understand in five years, and then brainstorm some ideas for making sure I am starting to teach those things in a way she understands.

How do you teach your children the things they need to know for the future?  Or, can you remember things that you learned as a young child that have influenced decisions you made as a teenager or adult?

Teach Me, Teach Me To Walk in the Light

Reading: “Gospel Teaching – Our Most Important Calling,” William D. Oswald, Second Counselor in the Second General Presidency, October 2008 General Conference, Sunday Afternoon Session

In our church great emphasis is put upon teaching.  Because the positions in our church are filled by lay clergy just about everyone will have a teaching position at some time in their membership.  Also, families are constantly asked to teach each other through family home evening and other teaching activities in the home.  Just about everyone is also a home teacher or a visiting teacher and is asked to go into homes and teach other members.  Also, young men are asked to go on a mission where for two years the main thing they do is to teach other people about the gospel.  Also, all of us will most likely be asked at some time or other to talk in church, where we will be teaching on the assigned topic.

One of the best ways to learn is to teach, and perhaps that is why our church asks us to teach so much.  One of the main reasons I write this blog is that I know from experience that reading is one thing, but taking what you learn and then explaining it to someone else is a much, much better way to learn and absorb the information you are trying to get into your head.

Elder Oswald teaches us the importance of teaching in his talk.  He also shares three principles that will help teachers in the church:

  • Show love to those you teach and call them by name.
  • Teach from the scriptures.
  • Encourage the pondering of gospel truths.

Those three principles are pretty simple, but I have seen many lessons in church where they forgot one of those and those lessons are much less effective.

Right now I do not have a teaching calling, not even as a visiting teacher.  I figure they just aren’t going to bother because we are moving in a month.  However, I do feel that it is extremely important that I teach my child(ren) and that is a “calling” I will have for many years.  I believe that if you really want your children to accept and live the gospel, you must start as early as possible.

Teaching young children about the gospel is very hard.  From my experience most people agree that being in the nursery is the hardest calling in the church.  [EDIT: In the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints the “nursery” refers to a class for children aged 18 months to 3 years old that runs for two hours of every three hour Sunday meeting.  It is separate from primary, which is for children 3 years to 12 years.]

It requires heroic amounts of patience and isolates you from the rest of the ward, as it is the only calling that holes you up for most of church.   It is, in fact, not unlike being a mother of young children.  It’s difficulty increases greatly as you put more effort into having structured activities and a lesson, as you are supposed to, instead of just having them play the whole time.  Perhaps sensing the unique trials asked of nursery leaders the church recently came out with a new nursery handbook that gives great lessons and advice on how to teach little children. I really, really wish this had come out before I had my stint as a nursery leader about two years ago-it would have been a huge help.  Church leaders also encouraged all parents with children under the age of three to get a copy to use in their home.

What I am leading up to is today I am going to go buy this manual, as I have been meaning to ever since I heard about it.  At 9 months old, my daughter is still too young to really benefit from a lesson.  However, as I said, there is no such thing as “too early” to start teaching the gospel and maybe it will give me some good ideas for setting patterns for future teaching.

What roles do you have that require you to teach others?  How can you be a better teacher in those roles?