How can parents help make seminary attendance a rewarding experience for their children?
, stake missionary and Relief Society teacher in the Harbor Hills Ward, Newport Beach California Stake.
At the end of a recent seminary course, I asked one of my students to write down his favorite scripture-mastery verse and to explain why it was his favorite.
“Out of the 25 scriptures we learned in seminary this year,” he wrote, “the one most important to me is 2 Nephi 32:9 [2 Ne. 32:9]: ‘Ye must pray always.’ Nephi, who was near the end of his life when he wrote this scripture, explained to us the need to pray. When I read this scripture, I was reminded how true and important the Book of Mormon is.”
The student wrote that he had come from a family that had never been very prayerful, and that he had not been taught to pray morning and evening. In fact, he had not prayed for many years. But when he read Nephi’s words, he realized that he was missing out on a great part of life by not reaching out to his Heavenly Father.
“Since then I have not missed a morning or night of prayer, and I have definitely seen a difference in each day’s activities,” he wrote. “It is important to me that the Lord accept me, and from this scripture I learned that we pray always so that everything we do will be acceptable to the Lord. This scripture has become a guiding light in my life. I now remember to get down on my knees and pray.”
At the time I read these words, I was debating whether to teach seminary the following school year. The letter helped me realize that seminary does more than just water seeds of faith every day at 6:00 A.M. Seminary helps them develop habits to draw close to Heavenly Father and the Savior on a daily basis.
Parents play an important role in helping make seminary a rewarding experience for their children. Following are some suggestions for effective parental involvement.
Become a seminary supporter. Children who sacrifice sleep to attend early-morning seminary, who give up a high school elective to attend released-time seminary, or who take time out of their busy teenage schedules to take home-study seminary need to be praised and encouraged. If the seminary program in your area has a yearly scripture-mastery event, attend it and cheer on your student. If your children attend early-morning seminary, support them by getting up when they do and making sure they get up on time. Always feel free to talk with the seminary teacher about how your child is doing in class.
Show interest. Become involved in your children’s spiritual progress by asking what they have learned in seminary on a given day. One of my students told me that each night over dinner her parents always ask what she learned in seminary that day. “Their questions help me,” she said. “They always want to hear what I’ve learned, and they answer any gospel questions I have.”
Share your enthusiasm for scripture study. Parents who study the scriptures provide a valuable example for their children. When appropriate moments arise, talk to your children about scriptures that hold special meaning for you, especially those scriptures that were important to you when you were growing up.
Learn along with them. Help your children learn their “mastery scriptures” by learning them yourself. The scripture-mastery verses can be used in family home evenings, talks in sacrament meeting, or in teaching moments when a particular gospel principle applies to you or your family members.
One father asked me for a copy of the year’s scripture-reading schedule. “It’s hard for my daughter to get up for seminary,” he said. “I want to keep up with the scriptures she is studying so I can encourage her.”
Seminary helps draw students closer to the Savior. By doing so, it reinforces gospel teachings in the homes of the faithful and can bring the spirit of the gospel into the home where a child may not be receiving this instruction. Either way, families benefit.
Parents can help make seminary a rewarding experience by reinforcing the spiritual growth that seminary engenders and by adding to the spiritual insights their children are gaining. We as parents, teachers, and Church leaders have the blessing of being shepherds to these youth for a period of time. Working together, we can form a circle of love, encouragement, and strength of testimony around each precious soul. By so doing, we can have a powerful impact on the quality of our children’s seminary experience as well as on the quality of their lives.