Primary: Help them stay on the path, handbook allows for flexibility
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The message for Primary leaders worldwide is simple: "Let's help children stay on the path back to our Heavenly Father," said Sister Rosemary M. Wixom, Primary general president.
"This goal can be accomplished as we seek to bless children individually and help them understand their place in our Father's plan," she said. "We hope every child in Primary will feel loved."
Sister Wixom and her counselors, Sister Jean A. Stevens and Sister Cheryl A. Esplin, recently met with the Church News to discuss Primary and the Church's new Handbook changes that impact Primary.
Sister Wixom wants Primary leaders and teachers to ask themselves two questions each week: "What will the children do to learn? How can I help them feel the Spirit?"
"Those two questions are so important," added Sister Stevens. "They are included in the Outline For Sharing Time each month because we want to teach the doctrine to the children in a way that it will be planted in their hearts. "
Sister Wixom said Primary is not only an auxiliary to the priesthood; it is an auxiliary to the family.
"In Primary we try to consider the family as well as the child because children are dependent upon their families," said Sister Esplin.
The presidency is hoping everyone who serves in Primary will study the new Handbook 2, which is available on lds.org.
"We are excited about how the Handbook begins by focusing on the family and the family's role in Heavenly Father's plan. In chapter three of the Handbook we learn important leadership principles that apply to every calling. The personal revelation that will come from applying these principles of leadership will bless us in our callings and in our homes and families as well. Concerns and challenges can be resolved. We can come to know it is a great privilege and responsibility to teach children in today's world. The Lord gave children receptive minds. We must teach them while they are young," Sister Wixom said.
The Primary presidency promises Primary leaders if they will follow the principles taught in the handbook, they will invite the Spirit into Primary.
Following are some highlights of the Handbook relating to Primary.
The purposes of Primary are to help children feel Heavenly Father's love, learn and understand the gospel of Jesus Christ, feel and recognize the influence of the Holy Ghost and prepare to make and keep sacred covenants.
The handbook allows for simplicity and flexibility.
During Primary class time, new 12-year-olds normally attend their Valiant 11 Primary class until the end of the year. However, the bishop and the presidents of the auxiliaries may counsel together to determine if these 12-year-olds would benefit more from attending the Sunday School class for 12- and 13-year-olds.
As men serve in Primary, children can see the example of righteous, caring priesthood holders. Men may serve as teachers, music leaders, pianists, activity day leaders and Scout leaders. When men are assigned to teach children, at least two responsible adults should be present at all times. The two adults could be two men, a husband and wife, or two members of the same family. In small branches, if it is not practical to have two teachers in a classroom, a member of the Primary presidency frequently visits and monitors each class that a man teaches alone.
Stake leadership meetings are generally held once a year.
There are no ward leadership meetings. Primary presidencies may invite other Primary workers to attend presidency meeting if needed.
The activities that were previously included in opening or closing exercises may be a part of Sharing Time. Sunday Primary is normally held for 1 hour and 40 minutes. Children in the nursery stay in their nursery class for the entire time. The other children attend two sessions. In one session, children meet together for 50 minutes for sharing time. In the other session, they divide into smaller classes for 40-minute lessons taught by their Primary teachers. The children and teachers who attend sharing time and classes have a 10-minute break between the two sessions.
In order to reduce demands on families, and help ensure the safety of young children, Primary quarterly activity days are now discontinued.
The Faith In God Program is still an essential part of Primary. The quarterly activity days referred to in the Faith In God guidebooks are no longer a part of the program. Adaptation will need to be made. For suggestions see lds.org.
The Primary president has an active role as a member of the Ward Council. In addition to being a voice for the children, she is a valued voice on the council.
"Our message stays true," said Sister Wixom. "Children are on a path back to Heavenly Father. The handbook is a tremendous resource to help them and all of us stay on the path."
Do 5 things when serving in Primary
1) Seek personal revelation. "Counsel with the Lord and prepare spiritually for your calling."
2) Read the Church Handbook 2. For those not in a Primary presidency, the handbook is available on lds.org under serving in the Church. "As you read it, think about how it pertains to your calling in Primary and to you personally."
3) Learn the names of all the children. "Know about their talents, interests and their challenges. Get to know their families."
4) Consider that precious 1 hour and 40 minutes each week to be with the children. "It is a gift to serve in Primary."
5) Enjoy! "Savor each moment and love the children." she said.