One 8-year-old Primary girl recently realized people are interested in what she has to say.
Somewhat shy in groups, she usually remains quiet even among her peers in Primary in the Jordan River (Cambodian) Branch of the Salt Lake Granger North Stake. She was even hesitant to talk about herself during her baptismal interview with branch Pres. Kenneth Hill.But then the branch held this year's Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation program, and, as former branch Primary Pres. Ellen Clyde related, she "came out of her shell."
Not only did she take part in singing two Primary songs, but she also had four individual speaking parts, as did many of the children in the branch. "This has helped her develop confidence in herself and that what she says people are interested in," Sister Clyde added.
The little girl is one of thousands of Primary children throughout the world sharing with branch and ward members through the annual Sacrament Meeting Presentation - usually scheduled in the fourth quarter - what they have learned during the year, with the 1998 theme being "I Know the Scriptures Are True."
For Sister Clyde, who was released about the time the branch held its presentation and who was succeeded by Sandra Casaday, the presentation is a wonderful way to reinforce gospel principles.
"Throughout the year, we've tried to teach the children to live the scriptures and to follow the prophets. By the children saying those little parts, we were able to reinforce those teachings," Sister Clyde said.
This kind of heartwarming success is what Primary Gen. Pres. Patricia P. Pinegar and her counselors, Anne G. Wirthlin and Susan L. Warner, hope will happen each year as a result of the Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation.
"This year children have been reading from the scriptures," Sister Pinegar said during a Church News interview that included her counselors. "They have been hearing stories from the scriptures and role-playing the stories. They have been talking about how to apply the scriptures in their lives, and they have been learning how to use the topical guide and the other resources in the scriptures. Children truly have been learning to love and use the scriptures."
The general presidency emphasized the benefits of the 1998 Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation and Sharing Time Outline. The outline includes monthly themes that could be used in Sharing Time, such as "The Scriptures Are the Word of God Revealed to Prophets," "The Scriptures Teach Me about the Life of Jesus Christ," and "The Scriptures Help Me to Have Faith in Jesus Christ and Live as He Lived."
In addition, these themes serve as a guide for preparing the Sacrament Meeting Presentation. The Jordan River (Cambodian) Branch had children's speaking parts or a song illustrate each theme. For example, to illustrate the theme, "The Scriptures Teach Me about the Life of Jesus Christ," six children stated their favorite scripture story about Jesus."
The outline also suggests several Primary songs relating to the theme, including "I Know My Father Lives" and "Search, Ponder, Pray."
Just that, "search, ponder and pray," is the "very message we want to have happen this year in Primary," Pres. Pinegar said.
And in the home, she emphasized. She and her counselors suggested several ways to help children - regardless of age - learn to love and apply the scriptures in their lives:
- Read and study the scriptures as a family. "Primary leaders and teachers encourage the children to share what they are learning in Primary with their families," Sister Pinegar said. "Many of the scripture stories the children learned about this year came from the Old Testament. Because their parents and older brothers and sisters have also been studying the Old Testament
in Sunday SchoolT, Primary-aged children were prepared to participate in family scripture discussions."
Sister Wirthlin recommended families have their own copy of the presentation outline and use the monthly themes for home evening lessons. (Copies of the 1998 Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation and Sharing Time Outline are available at Church distribution centers.)
- Ask children questions about the scriptures. "Asking the children questions about the scriptures or scripture stories can help them liken the scriptures to their everyday experiences," Sister Pinegar said.
- Share feelings about the scriptures. "This year Primary leaders and teachers have taught children to know and love the scriptures by sharing their personal feelings about the scriptures, by bearing testimony of their love for the scriptures and how the scriptures have helped them in their lives," Sister Pinegar explained.
- Don't wait until children are older to study scriptures with them. "Studies show that the foundations of language are laid between birth and 3 years of age," Sister Wirthlin noted.
Therefore, Sister Warner added, it's never too early to lay a foundation of scriptural vocabulary. "When children hear the words from the scriptures and also study those words, they develop a vocabulary to express spiritual feelings," she said.
Speaking of a child's cognitive ability, Sister Pinegar said: "Very young children have a spiritual sensitivity that responds to the beautiful words and messages in the scriptures."
- Role play characters from the scriptures. Sister Wirthlin related how one Primary she visited had members of the ward come in and role play prophets from the scriptures. "The Primary president told me it has had an impact because it has made the prophets and scriptures come alive for the children."
Whether teaching in the home or in Primary, Sister Pinegar emphasized, "Children need the strength of the scriptures in their lives. When families study and discuss the scriptures together, everyone in the family will be blessed."