Scripture Time for Preschoolers

My husband and I were aware that family scripture reading was encouraged by the Church leaders. However, with four young children, none able to read, we had limited our scripture study to evenings after the children were in bed. We planned to begin the “family” part of scripture study when the children were older.

We were brought up short, however, when we read in the January 1982 Ensign the message from President Spencer W. Kimball. (“Therefore I Was Taught,” p. 3.) He listed different things that we should be doing, including reading the scriptures as a family. He enumerated different excuses people often gave for not obeying his admonition, one of which was, “Our children are too young to understand” (p. 5).

After pondering his words, we came up with an idea.

Our plan began on Sunday during our “family time,” when we generally read Bible and Book of Mormon stories to our children and discuss them. We decided to pick a pertinent scripture from one of the stories read that day and have that as our “scripture of the week.” The children help us look it up in the Bible; then they repeat it after us several times. We talk about what it means, who is talking, the circumstances around that particular scripture. We then copy the scripture onto a brightly colored piece of construction paper and post it on our refrigerator, where it is visible to everyone. Each night as we gather together at the dinner table, one of the children is asked to recite the scripture, with our help if needed. We then ask them to tell us what it means, adding a few comments and sometimes relating it to an event that occurred that day. By the next Sunday our two older children are eager to receive a star or animal sticker if they can say it from memory and tell us what it means. The younger members of the family are given a sticker if they repeat it after us. They enjoy placing their stickers on the new scripture poster.

Our children are learning that the scriptures have meaning, and that they are important in our everyday lives. A few days ago my six-year-old son came to me, carrying his small copy of the New Testament. “I can read this down to there,” he said proudly, pointing down the page where the genealogy began. Then he haltingly read the first few paragraphs to me. It was a moment of rejoicing, and I felt thankful for the inspired direction of our leaders. Marlene A. Sullivan, Roosevelt, Utah

Canning Hints

Over the years of canning and preserving foods for our family, I have used two time-saving techniques:

1. When canning peaches, tomatoes, beets, or pears, I place my deep-fat fryer (heated and filled with water) close to the sink. The fryer’s basket can be filled conveniently with fruit, lowered into scalding water, and transferred to a sink of cold water without extra steps to the stove. The skins will then slip off easily.

2. When preparing corn for freezing or canning, removal from the cob is easily and quickly accomplished with an electric knife. Karma Bingham, Carey, Idaho

Vacations—Fun for a Change

I remember the year I came home from two weeks at the beach needing a vacation. I hadn’t expected perfection of a trip with two children under six, but at least I had hoped we might push aside the everyday routines and get to know each other better. Instead, I came home tired and disappointed. It was the string of minor frustrations, right where the fond memories should have been, that annoyed me the most.

It occurred to me at that point that it was not enough to know what kind of vacation we wanted. We needed to know how to take a vacation.

My husband and I sat down together and considered the challenge of successful vacationing. We began by recalling our previous vacations—ones we’d taken together, and as children with our parents. At the same time, we thought of our friends, a family of nine, who had recently crowded into a station wagon with their suitcases strapped to the top. They had traveled across the continent to Washington, D.C., returning home marvelously excited by their experience. We spent some time gathering ideas about what makes a successful vacation, eventually identifying eight rules. With a few modifications, they’ve served us reasonably well:

1. Candidly discuss the upcoming trip with each family member. Find out what they expect, and then reconcile any differences. For example, if mom wants to see the sights and dad is hoping to get some rest, you’ll know you’ve got a problem.

2. Budget realistically. Enough unexpected expenses crop up when you’re away from home that it’s not a good policy to begin on a shoestring. It’s more realistic to cut the trip down to fit the pocketbook. Somehow, the wonders of the world lose a lot of their appeal when you have to count your nickels before you can look at them.

3. Point out to your children the pitfalls that might ruin your vacation. Explain lovingly to them that you aren’t going to leave the rules at home. There will still be some chores, like helping with the young children and unloading the suitcases. Delegate those responsibilities specifically, and then remember not to assume them yourself. Kids shape up quickly if they know you’re not going to fill in.

Discuss the fact that one person’s mood can affect everyone else. Challenge your children to stay cheerful, no matter what happens.

Give each child an allowance to spend on things he wants but make sure he understands that when it’s gone, there’ll be no more.

We’ve also found that it helps avoid embarrassment if we review with our children what they should expect and what will be expected of them just before we enter a restaurant, a museum, or a theater. Children feel more comfortable and behave better when they understand a new situation in advance.

4. Openly discuss anything that annoys one or more family members, and then find alternatives. For example, if dad would rather not spend every summer with relatives, maybe mom and the kids could visit them alone. Or if mom has an aversion to a campfire and fishing hole, maybe dad should take the kids on Saturdays and plan other activities for vacation periods.

5. Remember moderation. Vacation time doesn’t necessarily bring out the best in everyone, so don’t push to the limits of your time or your money. The object of a vacation is enjoyment, not exhaustion and ill temper.

6. Share yourself. Leave your work and worries at home. Plan to do things with your children that you’ll all enjoy.

7. Don’t give in to temptations that you’ll have to overcome when you get home: overeating, oversleeping, forgetting family prayer, etc.

8. Remain flexible. You can always count on something going askew. Once we put the canoe on top of our car and headed for the lake. When we arrived, the wind was blowing so hard that we couldn’t launch. We took shelter in a local drugstore, where one of the kids happened to spot a kite. For 98¢ and a ball of string, we salvaged the outing. In fact, we had so much fun that our kids were disappointed the next time when the wind wasn’t blowing.

One year, for financial reasons, we decided on a stay-at-home vacation. First, we took two important steps to make our vacation something more than just “staying at home.” The week before, we froze whole meals, bought paper plates, and did the laundry. Then we canceled all our obligations—work, school, classes, parties, meetings (except Sunday meetings)—and we took no phone calls. (After all, we were on vacation!) Then we sat down with the children and brainstormed ways to spend our free time.

Eventually, we opted for completing a family goal. Our house needed better insulation—so that week we installed insulation with all the gusto of a barn-raising. Besides having fun, by the end of the week we enjoyed a rich sense of accomplishment—as good a souvenir as one could ever want from a vacation.

By carefully tailoring vacation times to meet the specific needs of our family, we’ve produced more successes than failures. Jerrie W. Hurd, Lake Oswego, Oregon

[illustrations] Illustrated by Susan Arnot