“Are reverence classes appropriate in Primary?” Ensign, Oct. 1990, 52
Betty Jo Jepsen, first counselor, Primary General Presidency. Neither a reverence class nor a special class for children who misbehave is appropriate.
Reverence in Primary should be associated with feelings, not with behavior or noise level. A child may be very quiet and sitting still yet not feel reverent. On the other hand, a child may vigorously participate in an activity and feel the Spirit as he becomes involved. Judging reverence on outward appearances, then, can be deceiving.
In Primary, variety and involvement, rather than the threat of punishment, will keep the children’s attention. Children naturally respond to loving guidance. For example, teachers can help little ones identify reverent feelings by calling the children’s attention to the special feelings they get when the Spirit is present. Music and personal testimony can also be powerful tools in creating an atmosphere in which children feel reverent.
Most children should respond to such efforts. There are, however, a small number of children who suffer behavioral dysfunction. These children require special attention. The parents and school teachers of these children are valuable resources Primary teachers and leaders can tap when making plans to meet their needs.
Reverence rarely “happens.” Children must be taught about reverence in such a way that they can understand it. Primary in-service lessons help teachers and leaders use creative preparation and child development principles to teach children appropriate behavior in a gospel setting. The How Book for Teaching Children (stock no. PBIC0223) discusses what can be expected from children in their various developmental stages.