Have you ever seen those LDS Primary classes where the kids and the teacher are genuinely enjoying their time together? The kids are actually listening and learning while the teacher is smiling. No one is frazzled or out of control. Everything seems... perfect. Ever wish your class was more like that?
While no class will ever be perfect, you can create an amazing class. The absolute best classes happen when the teacher knows the students and takes a real interest in their lives. They know how to teach their class because they really know the people in their class. They understand the way they learn and what works best for everyone. Think about it, Jesus Christ knew the individual. He knew what they struggled with so when He taught them, He knew what they needed to hear and how to say it.
As you get to know your LDS Primary class, not only will you better understand which teaching methods to use but your love for your class and your love for your calling will increase immensely. Your calling becomes less like a chore and more a labor of love. Try these 4 ways to get to know your class and create a classroom setting that is best for you and your students.
Pay Attention and Take Notes
Pay attention to how each child learns. How does each person respond when you ask them to read from the scriptures? Do they like answering questions? When you used a different teaching technique, who responded better? Pay careful attention. Make mental notes throughout the class and write your observations down as soon as possible afterwards. As you learn more about what makes each person feel comfortable and how he learns best, you will understand which methods are right for your classroom (Try one of these 3 methods out as you discover what works best). Soon you will be able to create a safe environment for learning the gospel and inviting the Spirit each week. You will also know who needs extra help finding verses in the scriptures or doing other activities and can plan the appropriate amount of time for each instead of feeling rushed or annoyed.
One of the easiest ways to get to know your class is by giving a class survey. Surveys are easiest with those children that can read and write but that doesn't mean you can't use it in younger classes. If you don't have a teacher partner, find a volunteer for a couple of weeks that can help you fill these out for each child. Have your volunteer pull one child aside at a time and ask them questions while he record the answers. A survey quickly allows you to figure out what things are important to each child and what they like about church. You can use my free survey by clicking my image above or create your own. As you go through the results, write down ways you can adjust your teaching style to make everyone feel included and loved. Use the different interests to help you figure out which stories to tell as you explain gospel principles. Use their favorite color to make seat assignments or create teams for games in your class. See if you can use their favorite game as a teaching tool next time. When you learn what they like about church and your class, build upon that. Keep your surveys with your lesson supplies so you can through them regularly as you prepare your weekly lessons.
Get to Know Their Families
In order to better understand who the children in your class are, you must get to know their families. How many brothers and sisters do they have? Are they the oldest or youngest child? Are both parents members? What support do they get from home? Does their family travel a lot? As you get to know each child's family, you will gain new understanding on the what makes that child tick. When the families feel comfortable with you, they are also willing to communicate more with you. Maybe you will find there is more going on with a child than you knew and you can adjust accordingly. If you can, invite the families in your class to come to dinner, out for fun at the park, or over for a game night. Even if you only have time to say "Hi" to their families at church it's helpful. Putting names with faces can make a big difference.
Serve, Pray, and Love Them
Get to know your class more through loving service. Prayer is one of the best ways to do so. As you pray for your class, Heavenly Father will give you new insights. Remember to write those things down so you can implement them. But there is more you can do as well. Send cards in the mail with a simple note, attend an important event, visit with each child at home. Any act of service will help the children in your class know that you really want to know them and that you do actually care. Use the results you gather from the class survey and leave a treat at their door during the week. Let them know you are thinking of them and they will let you know about them. Use the printables in the 4 Weeks of Thanksgiving Challenge any time of year to express your gratitude for your class. The Challenge packet includes cards, gift tags, gratitude notes, and more that will help you show appreciation for your class. Keep a few of the tags in your lesson bag and you can hand one out to someone who has been particularly helpful that week. Everyone loves to feel appreciated.
The most important thing you can do for your class is to love them and teach with the Spirit. Almost every single problem can be solved through love and the guidance of the Spirit. Don't give up if they do not respond right away. Keep trying, keep loving, and you will eventually see a difference. You can also join our Private Primary Facebook Group to get more ideas from other teachers.
Your Turn- What has helped you create an amazing LDS Primary class?