Roommates: Getting Off to a Good Start

During the years I attended college, I had more than 20 roommates. As I look back on my best roommate experiences, I realize that a few consistent practices helped us get along well together. If you have roommates, you might find the following ideas helpful:

Roommate councils. Like family councils, roommate councils can help households run more smoothly. During my first year of college, my roommates and I set aside some time each week to calmly and openly discuss concerns. At first our meetings were lengthy because we all had much to contribute, but as we worked through our concerns, our meetings grew shorter. Soon we had a set of apartment rules and routines that we all agreed upon.

In the beginning, you might want to discuss the following with your roommates:

Household cleaning tasks. Discuss cleaning assignments and expectations. How will cleaning supplies be purchased?

Sharing spaces. Decide on shower and bathroom times. Also, if your kitchen cupboard or refrigerator space is tight, discuss how all can store their food. For instance, could a single can of soda be refrigerated instead of a full carton? Consider writing your initials on food items to avoid mistakenly eating each other’s food. Perhaps you could pool your food to share a meal on Sundays or other occasions.

In time, you may need to discuss rules or routines to deal with other problems as well: visitors, music, lights-out time, and so forth.

Spiritual growth. Other advice given to families can also help strengthen roommate relationships. If your roommate situation allows, consider praying, studying the scriptures, and having family home evening together. If you can’t do these things with your roommates, be sure to continue your own personal progress in these areas.

I still keep in touch with several of my roommates. I treasure their friendships. And my husband is grateful for all the things they did to help me prepare for marriage.

Kerry Griffin Smith, Lochsa Falls Ward, Meridian Idaho West Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Joe Flores

Teaching Children with Learning or Behavioral Challenges

In working with children of varying cognitive and physical abilities, I am often reminded of the Savior’s admonition that “all [the] children shall be taught” (3 Ne. 22:13). I know that making a difference to a few who need extra help blesses us all.

Do you have a child with learning or attention difficulties in your Primary class? Then maybe you’ve wondered how to create a spiritual learning environment that will benefit all the children. During my work with children who need specialized instruction, I have found the following strategies helpful in focusing their attention—along with the rest of the class.

First: Develop order and routine. All children benefit from well-prepared lessons with clearly explained vocabulary and key points. Those with learning challenges need extra cues to help with any transitions. Visual cues, such as a picture, can indicate where to sit. Auditory cues, such as prelude or postlude music or the chime of a quiet bell, help to signal dismissal time or a change in activity.

Second: Stop the lesson when disruptions occur. Use simple visuals to explain or remind the children of behavioral expectations before resuming the lesson. For instance, a picture of an eye can remind them to look at the speaker. Children with learning or attention difficulties often don’t understand hints or suggestions as well as body or facial expressions.

Third: Sit on the floor. Active children sometimes can’t tell where their body space is, so they wiggle to provide the brain with more feedback. Sitting on the floor allows more of their body to be in contact with a stable foundation. Providing a blanket for them to sit on offers a visual seating cue.

Fourth: Try “crossover” exercises. Any physical movement causing the arms and legs to cross the midline of the body seems to help focus wiggly children. Try having the children march in place while touching their right elbow to their left knee and vice versa. They can march eight or ten steps in this fashion before sitting back down, cross-legged on the floor.

Arthella Starke, Lakeridge Ward, Lake Oswego Oregon Stake

Family Home Evening Helps: Learning about Our Leaders

Before general conference a few years ago, we dedicated several family home evenings to learning more about the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Using the Special Witnesses of Christ video and portraits of the Brethren available at Church distribution centers and meetinghouse libraries, we were able to easily plan our lessons. To begin, my husband and I watched the video together, noting the order in which the testimonies were shared. Then each subsequent family night we spotlighted two or three of the Brethren. Prior to viewing each testimony, we shared the biographical information found on the back of the matching portrait. Our children enjoyed learning about these special witnesses, and we often felt prompted to share our own testimonies as well.

With the calling of two new Apostles at the October 2004 general conference, our family has yet another opportunity to revisit our “special witnesses” family night theme. Using information in the March 2005 Ensign and on the backs of the portraits of the new Brethren, we have two family night lessons ready to share.

Sheryl Tolman, McMillan Ward, Meridian Idaho West Stake

Editor’s note: The Special Witnesses of Christ video (item no. 53584000; U.S. $6.00) is also available in DVD, with eight language options plus ASL (54584090; U.S. $4.50) and signed video (53584010; U.S. $6.00). In addition to English, the video format is offered in Spanish (53584002; U.S. $6.00). Portraits of the Brethren are available in the Gospel Art Picture Kit (34730000; U.S. $30.00) or individually.

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth Whittaker