Do you want to bring the Primary theme alive in your home and help your children retain what they learn at church?
The 2017 Primary theme is “Choose the Right,” so you’re probably already using it in your home without realizing it. After all, we face decisions daily and teach our children how to make good choices. But if you want to go even further and make a conscious effort this year to use the Primary theme in your home, here are three simple steps you can follow.
1. Understand the Theme and Know Where to Find It
If you haven’t served in Primary, you may not be familiar with the Primary theme, which Church leaders release each year for children to study in sharing time. But if you have ever attended a Sacrament meeting Primary program, you have most likely heard one of the children or leaders say, “In Primary this year, we learned about . . . .”
Each year, the Primary theme is broken down into monthly focuses that the children study each week. You can find all of these themes in a booklet entitled 2017 Outline for Sharing Time: Choose the Right, which provides lessons for Primary leaders to teach each week of the year in Sharing Time.
You don’t need to have a Primary calling to access the theme or booklet. Anyone can purchase or download a copy of the booklet. It costs $0.95 at distribution centers or at store.lds.org, or you can download it for free on lds.org or in the Gospel Library app. Once you know what your children will be studying, you can use these themes to help with the next steps: scripture study and family home evening lessons that reinforce what your children learn in Primary.
2. Use the Theme for Family Scripture Study
Studying the theme every day may not be possible, but studying it once a week or even once a month will help your family think about it more often. The easiest way to make it a part of your scripture study is to use the scriptures listed in the sharing time outline. Each month’s theme includes a scripture, so you can start by studying that verse. In addition, you can read through the scriptures listed each week for the sharing time lessons or find even more related scriptures using the footnotes and Topical Guide. For example, January’s theme is “Agency Is the Gift to Choose for Ourselves.” Look up terms such as agency, choice, or freedom and read scriptures listed under those topics.
You can also memorize and “ponderize” the scriptures, as Elder Devin G. Durrant suggested in the October 2015 general conference. Display a scripture somewhere your family will see it often. You could put it on the refrigerator, on the wall in your dining room, on a bathroom mirror, or even on the back of the front door so your family will see it before leaving each day. You don’t need to spend a lot of time making a fancy poster. Just be simple.
If you have young children who don’t know how to read, you can focus on helping them remember principles and stories. Instead of displaying a verse to memorize, display a picture of a concept or a scripture story. If the theme is about missionary work, display a picture of missionaries or a picture of a missionary from the scriptures. You can find pictures in the Friend magazine or in the LDS Media Library at lds.org/media-library. Use your creativity and do what works best with your family.
3. Use the Primary Theme for Family Home Evening
Many parents ask their children after church what they learned in Primary; continue your discussion Monday night by basing your family home evening lesson on the Primary theme to help reinforce what your children learned. With all of the resources now available on lds.org, preparing a lesson should be a simple task. You can look up hymns, Primary songs, scriptures, pictures, videos, and even coloring pages that relate to the lesson.
First, decide which angle you want to take with the topic. Subjects like agency, prayer, or following the prophet can go a variety of directions, so prayerfully decide what to focus on for your family.
Next, choose opening and closing songs. Look up your topic in the index of the Children’s Songbook or the hymnbook and find a song that fits with the theme of your lesson. Then use the Topical Guide to find a few scriptures that relate. You can either base your lesson off of the scriptures, or use the scriptures to support ideas in your lesson. If you want to have a lesson you can read with your family, write a few paragraphs to share during family home evening. Or, after studying a few scriptures, you can let the Spirit guide as you have an informal discussion with your family.
If you’re pressed for time, you can use my FHE manual, Choose the Right: A Year of Prepared Family Night Lessons and Activities to Strengthen Your Home. I’ve done all the work for you and have prepared a lesson for every week of the year, based on the Primary theme. Each lesson contains a list of resources with suggestions for Primary songs, hymns, pictures from the Gospel Art Book, additional scriptures not listed in the lesson, activities tailored to both younger and older children, and a challenge to complete that week. Each lesson is relatively short (just a few paragraphs) in order to keep the attention of young children, as well as facilitate time for your family to have a personal discussion about how this lesson applies to you.
Bringing the Primary theme into your home does not have to be overwhelming. If you follow these three simple steps, you can easily integrate the theme into the activities your family is already doing.
Lead image from Getty Images.
Find more tips and resources in Choose the Right: A Year of Prepared Family Night Lessons and Activities to Strengthen Your Home by Kimiko Christensen Hammari, available at Deseret Book stores and deseretbook.com.