When the resurrected Savior visited the Nephites, “he did teach and minister unto the children … , and he did loose their tongues, and they did speak unto their fathers great and marvelous things, even greater than he had revealed unto the people” (3 Nephi 26:14). The Savior’s actions set an example for you as you teach, care for, and influence the faith and conversion of children (see 3 Nephi 17:23).
Parents are the most important gospel teachers for their children—they have both the main responsibility and the greatest power to influence their children (see Deuteronomy 6:6–7). As you teach children at church, prayerfully seek ways to support their parents in their essential role. For example, you could talk to parents about the needs and interests of their children, you could share with them what their children are learning in your class, and you could find out how you might support parents’ efforts as you teach.
Question to ponder. In my efforts to teach children at church, how could I build on the experiences they are having at home?
Use a Variety of Teaching Methods
Not all children are alike, and each child is developing rapidly. Your efforts to teach children will be most effective as you use a variety of teaching methods, such as the following:
Stories. Gospel principles are easier for children to understand when the principles are taught using a story. Stories help children see how the gospel applies to everyday life. The stories in the scriptures, in particular, teach doctrine powerfully—you could use Joseph Smith’s account of his First Vision, for example, to teach about prayer, revelation, overcoming opposition, and the nature of the Godhead. You could use stories from your own life or from Church magazines. When teaching young children, plan ways to involve them in the story; for example, they could hold pictures, repeat phrases, or act out parts.
Visual aids. Visuals such as pictures, videos, and objects can help children better understand and remember scripture stories and the principles they teach. Many pictures and videos can be found in the LDS Media Library on LDS.org.
Music. Hymns and songs can help children feel God’s love, feel the Spirit, and learn gospel truths. The melodies, rhythms, and simple rhymes can help children remember gospel truths for years to come. As you sing with children, help them discover and understand the principles taught in the songs. Most of the songs in the Children’s Songbook and the Church hymnbook include scripture references that you can use to connect the song to doctrine taught in the scriptures.
Question to ponder. What stories, objects, or songs can I use to make a gospel principle easier for a child to understand?
Scriptural example. What do I learn about the Savior’s way of teaching in Matthew 18:1–5?
See also the video “Primary Music Leader” (LDS.org).
Give the Children Opportunities to Express Their Creativity
As sons and daughters of God, children are born to create. When you invite children to create something related to a gospel principle, you help them better understand the principle, and you give them a tangible reminder of what they have learned. They can also use their creation to share what they learned with others. As you teach children, allow them to build, draw, color, write, and create. These things are more than fun activities—they are essential to learning. Each issue of the Liahona or Friend magazine includes creative activities for children.
Question to ponder. How could I include creative activities as I teach?
Encourage Children to Ask Questions
Children are naturally curious, and they have many questions. Strive to see their questions as opportunities, not as distractions or impediments to your lesson. Children’s questions are an indication that they are ready to learn. Such questions give you valuable insights into what the children are thinking, what concerns they have, and how they are responding to the things they are learning. Help them see that the answers to their questions can be found in the scriptures and the words of living prophets.
Question to ponder. How can I show the children in my class that I value their questions and curiosity?
Scriptural example. How was young Joseph Smith blessed by an invitation to ask questions? (see Joseph Smith—History 1:10–20).
Invite Children to Share What They Know
When children learn something new, they naturally want to share it with others. Encourage this desire by giving children opportunities to teach gospel principles to each other, their family members, and their friends. Also ask them to share with you their thoughts, feelings, and experiences related to the principles you are teaching. You will find that they have insights that are simple, pure, and powerful.
Question to ponder. What gospel truths have I learned from a child?
Scriptural example. What do I learn from the Savior’s example in 3 Nephi 26:14?
Address Disruptions with Love
Sometimes a child acts in ways that disrupt the learning of others in the class. When this happens, be patient, loving, and understanding about the challenges the child may be facing. He or she may just need more opportunities to participate in the lesson in positive ways—holding a picture, drawing something on the board, or reading a scripture.
If a child continues to be disruptive, it may be helpful to speak to him or her privately. In a spirit of love and patience, explain your expectations and your confidence that he or she can meet them. You might want to invite the child’s parents or a member of the Primary presidency to join you in this conversation.
If the child causing disruptions has special needs, talk to the ward or stake disability specialist or visit disabilities.lds.org to find out how you can better meet those needs.
Question to ponder. Are there any changes I could make to my teaching approach that might help a disruptive child feel loved?
Using All the Senses
Most children (and adults) learn best when multiple senses are involved. Find ways to help the children use their senses of sight, hearing, and touch as they learn. In some situations, you may even find ways to include their senses of smell and taste!
For the Discussion Leader
Share and counsel together. Begin by inviting teachers to share recent teaching experiences and ask questions related to teaching.
Learn together. Invite teachers to discuss one or more of the ideas in this section. Do not try to cover everything in one meeting.
Practice. Invite teachers to role-play teaching a gospel principle to a child, using the suggestions in this section. You might consider inviting some Primary children into the meeting to be taught. Afterward, give teachers time to share feedback.
Prepare. Decide together on a topic for the next meeting, and invite teachers to prepare.