Editors: You’ve served as the General Primary Presidency for more than two and a half years now, what are some of the things about Primary that you have learned?
Sister Young: I’ve learned that children all over the world are more the same than they are different. Their needs, desires, and eagerness to learn are the same. And everywhere I go, I’m impressed with their capabilities and potential.
Sister Cannon: The leaders we meet also have this same kind of eagerness. Some are new in the Church and lack training and background—but they’re anxious and willing to know how they can help the children.
Sister Grassli: I’ve also been impressed by the concern the leaders have for the children, who are subjected to greater outside influences than ever before. Primary has a history of concerned and dedicated leaders and teachers.
Editors: Sister Young, what do you see as the purpose of the Primary?
Sister Young: The purpose of Primary is to teach our children the Gospel of Jesus Christ through religious instruction and through participation in activities.
Editors: Have you found this goal being met?
Sister Young: I would say that the first part, the teaching of the gospel, is generally being met. We need to encourage Primary leaders and teachers to do more when it comes to activities. After all, it is in activities that the children learn how to apply what they learn during lesson time.
For example, as part of Primary on Sundays we have “Sharing Time” during which the children can give class presentation to the rest of the Primary. We hope that at least half of the Sharing Time is used for class presentations where the children can teach others what they have learned.
Sister Grassli: The children can learn how to apply the various aspects of the gospel through their participation in the activity day which is scheduled four times a year. The activity might be anything from physical fitness fairs that could emphasize the value of the Word of Wisdom, to learning to give of themselves through service projects.
Editors: How can parents help their children in their Primary experience?
Sister Young: I would suggest that when the family returns home from Sunday meetings, parents should talk to each child individually and ask, “What did you talk about in your Primary class today?” If my child regularly came home without apparently having learned any concepts I would talk to his or her teacher as well as the Primary president to find out what’s happening in that particular class. As a parent, I would want to make sure that a lesson is being taught and that the child has the opportunity to participate.
Sister Cannon: I think one of the strongest things we can do for our children is to reinforce in the home what they are learning in their Primary classes. Children gain in spiritual strength when their church experience and their teachings in the home complement each other.
Editors: Now that the Church has been on the Sunday meeting schedule for almost three years, are Primary teachers feeling more comfortable about having to miss Relief Society, Sunday School, and Priesthood?
Sister Grassli: Most are. We’ve seen teachers discover for themselves that when they serve in Primary they not only receive blessings from service, but they are also blessed personally with spiritual growth.
Sister Cannon: Teaching Primary is such a vitally important service that if teachers can catch the feeling of what they are doing, it helps them not be so concerned about what they might be missing.
Sister Young: We say to the sisters serving in Primary: We expect you to attend the homemaking lessons held during the week, we expect you to be a visiting teacher, to be involved in compassionate service, and to take care of your temple assignments, but on Sundays your assignment is the Primary and that’s where you should be.
For years, Melchizedek Priesthood holders have missed their quorum meetings to teach the Aaronic Priesthood and I would suspect that they have cherished that time and the opportunity it has given them to serve the youth and guide their spiritual development. Primary is an opportunity for both sisters and priesthood holders to serve.