How can I be better at teaching in the home?
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Every 6 months, we have the opportunity to hear from our prophet and other church leaders. In October 2018, our prophet, Russell M. Nelson, announced a new approach to gospel learning. This home centered, church supported curriculum is designed for most of the gospel learning to be done in our own homes, with support from our church. Although we have always believed that we are responsible for our own learning, this approach to learning definitely raises the bar on what is expected of Latter-Day Saint families.
Teach by example
So often we are worried that we aren’t spiritual or knowledgeable enough to teach our kids the lessons of the gospel. I have certainly felt this way. But who better to teach our kids about faith than us? Although there are places for lectures and lessons, so much of life’s learning can be done “on the job”.
I think the greatest teaching is done when our children see the way we live. They learn humility when they see us on our knees pleading to our Father in Heaven for help, they learn to have faith when they see us striving to live our beliefs, they learn to be honest when they witness our daily dealings, and they learn to love God when they see us love Him and serve Him. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6).
When our children see us striving to follow the prophet, they will want to follow the prophet. This new approach to gospel learning seems daunting to some of us, but I know that the Lord will bless us as we do our best to follow the prophet’s council.
Teaching in the home involves learning in the home
Probably the scariest part of teaching in the home is that we don’t know all the answers. I like sending my kids to church and school, where someone who is much smarter than me can teach them what they need to learn. And this is good. But we shouldn’t let that be the ONLY place our kids learn things. They should also learn in the home- both temporal and spiritual things. If you feel like I do, and are worried that your knowledge is sub-par, then this will be a great opportunity to learn together WITH your children.
What if your child came to you with a question and you didn’t know the answer? Imagine the wonderful opportunity that arises when we admit that we don’t know all the answers, but then we show our children how to find the answers. I cannot think of a better learning opportunity than a parent turning to the scriptures, praying, and studying to find an answer with their child.
Not only does this help us to learn, as parents, but it models to our children the way we can find answers for ourselves. It teaches them that it is good to ask questions, and that when we have a question, we should do our best to prayerfully and carefully find the answers for ourselves.
In these situations, we don’t just teach them a story or a topic- we are able to teach our children a pattern for learning that will stay with them throughout their lives. Then, when we aren’t right by their side and they have a question, they will know how to find it themselves.
You are qualified!
Every year, my kids draw names to give a gift to one of their siblings. But instead of going out and buying a gift, they have to home make a gift for whoever they have chosen. This year, my 3 year old son, Hank, is making a simple fleece blanket for his brother. And when I say HE is making a blanket, I really mean I am making a blanket while 3 year old Hank pokes pins in the fabric.
As we were sewing the blanket, I had Hank sitting up on my knee and we were feeding the fabric through my sewing machine. I told him about how my mom taught me to sew, and how she learned from her mom and grandma. Hank giggled and said, “mom’s lap is the best place to be!” I thought about those generations of women who had come before me- my mom, my grandmothers, and great-great grandmothers as far back as I could think. I was immediately grateful that I was raised by concerned and involved parents.
Harold B Lee said, “The most important of the Lord’s work that you will ever do will be the work you do within the walls of your own home.”- and dare I say, the most important things a child will learn will be taught at his mother’s knee.
I wondered how many of life’s greatest lessons, throughout the generations of the world, have been learned while children were sitting on their mother’s lap. I have learned the most valuable lessons of my life sitting on my mother’s knee, working on preparing dinner, and even over phone calls. I’ve learned the same thing from my dad- working beside him, seeing him serve those around him, and chatting at the dinner table. Hank was right- Mom and Dad’s laps are surely the best place to be!
When we think we are not qualified to teach our children in our home, think again! We are absolutely qualified to teach our children! In fact, you are the MOST qualified person to teach your children. God trusted us to be parents, and not just in bringing children to the world, but in raising them! He trusts us to teach our children, and as President Thomas S. Monson promised, “When we are on the Lord’s errand, we are entitled to the Lord’s help. Remember that whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies.”
Teaching in the home isn’t easy
Hank was having the time of his life sewing with me. He truly believed he was sewing the blanket all by himself. I, on the other hand, was almost dripping with sweat and was using every muscle in my body to try to keep him balanced while I was feeding the fabric in the machine. Sewing with a 3 year old on your lap is no easy thing. Although the blanket was simple, it took me twice as long to make it with Hank than it would have taken to make it myself- and the stitches weren’t nearly as straight. So it is with everything in life. Anything worth doing requires sacrifice and work. FAMILY requires sacrifice and work. Teaching our children learning with them is HARD WORK!
But we are ultimately responsible for our children’s upbringing. We are responsible for the principles they learn and the way they are raised. We must be very deliberate and intentional about the way we spend our time and what we allow into our homes. If we teach them the gospel while they are young, they are more likely to continue on that path as they grow. We cannot take the easy way out and fail to teach the basic principles we believe in. If we don’t teach our children, someone else will- and that thought scares me more than anything.
Teaching in the home will require us to study more, pray more, and seek answers to questions for ourselves, so that we can be prepared to teach our children. I believe that the home centered, church supported approach to learning the gospel is as much for parents and adults as it is for kids. We will benefit just as much as our kids will from learning together with our families, but it will require more effort on our part. And I know that the Lord will help you, if you will ask.
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If you liked this project, you might like some of my other LDS projects and articles: