2016 Primary Theme Can Help Children Love the Scriptures, General Presidency Says

Contributed By Rachel Sterzer, Church News staff writer

  • 18 December 2015

During 2016, Primary children around the world will increase their testimonies and love of the scriptures during sharing time.

Article Highlights

  • Help children learn to love the scriptures through your example.
  • Guide children by helping to provide context.
  • Seek personal revelation to know the needs of the children that you teach, and then go to the resources the Lord has provided.

“With all the turmoil and confusion around [children], we hope they would go to the scriptures, look to their Savior and Father in Heaven, and find peace in their lives.” —Sister Mary R. Durham, Primary general presidency

The Primary general presidency hopes that sharing time instruction this next year will help children discover a love for the scriptures.

The 2016 Outline for Sharing Time theme—“I Know the Scriptures Are True”—is a foundation that the leaders said they know will continue to be a blessing in the lives of children.

“We know the power of the scriptures and how they will have a lifelong influence on a child’s life,” said Sister Rosemary M. Wixom, Primary general president.

Sister Wixom and her counselors in the Primary general presidency, Sister Cheryl A. Esplin and Sister Mary R. Durham, met with the Church News to discuss next year’s theme, which is found in 2 Nephi 4:15, “For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them.”

“The scriptures, we know from Lehi’s dream, are the word of God,” Sister Wixom said. “When we continually hold on to the word of God, it blesses families and children.”

One of the ways the children and families are blessed, Sister Durham said, is found in 3 Nephi 22:13. “And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.”

“With all the turmoil and confusion around [children], we hope they would go to the scriptures, look to their Savior and Father in Heaven, and find peace in their lives,” she said.

The Primary general presidency: Sister Rosemary M. Wixom (center) and her counselors, Sister Cheryl A. Esplin (left) and Sister Mary R. Durham (right). Image by Busath.com.

Cover of the 2016 Outline for Sharing Time: I Know the Scriptures Are True.

Even helping children internalize one little phrase of scripture could bless them during those times of strife, Sister Wixom added. “If it’s tucked in their heart and in their mind, it will surface.”

Sister Esplin explained the scriptures will help children “come unto Christ.” “Prophet after prophet testified of Christ and testified that one of the main reasons they wrote what they wrote was so their children would look forward unto that life which is in Christ.“

Parents and Primary leaders and teachers can help children learn to love the scriptures through their example, Sister Wixom said. “As adults, as teachers and leaders, we set the pattern by how we love the scriptures and the attention we give to them.”

For example, a Primary leader holding the scriptures in her hands as she teaches “sends a powerful message to the children she is teaching,” Sister Wixom said.

Sister Esplin encouraged teachers and leaders to help children use and engage with their copy of the scriptures. “Children love to mark their scriptures. We might help them know what to mark and what’s important. They could learn how to use the maps and footnotes.”

Teachers and leaders can also guide children by helping to provide context. “Help them understand who is speaking and what’s going on,” Sister Esplin advised. “Say, ‘When we read this scripture, listen for this,’ or ‘Look for that.’”

Sister Durham added, “Ask the children, ‘What would you do?’ or ‘How would you act?’ Liken it to them and let it come alive for them.”

Sister Wixom said that adults should not underestimate the ability of children to comprehend what is in the scriptures. Sister Durham added, “Their minds are open and ready to learn. They can memorize these scriptures and have them in their hearts so they can recall and use them later.”

Sister Wixom said if she were to give any advice to Primary leaders, it would be to “seek personal revelation to know the needs of the children that you teach, and then go to the resources the Lord has provided.” 

Sharing time is set aside for concise, engaged learning for children. “Let music reinforce what you’ve already taught,” she said.

Sister Esplin encouraged Primary leaders and teachers to utilize Church resources first. “We sometimes limit our experience with learning from the Lord because we immediately go to outside sources. If we would read the scriptures and look to the Church resources, and pray about it, the Lord can speak through the Spirit and tell us what we need to know.”

”As leaders read the scriptures and share their personal testimonies of the scriptures, the children will feel the Spirit,” Sister Durham said. And it’s the influence of the Holy Ghost that will help every child be able to say, “I know the scriptures are true.”