It's Primary time again! This week's lesson in the Primary 2 Manual is Lesson 21: I Can Be Reverent.
Now, I don't know about YOU, but our little ones have quite a hard time being reverent at times! Before I share some thoughts on the lesson, I thought I share some tips on how to help your class be more reverent. I'm not an "expert," but I am the oldest of 9 children, have had 13 foster children, and work with children who have special needs as my job. These tips are all things I utilize in my classroom and have found work at least 95% of the time. If you have any additional tips, please leave them in the comments--they'll be greatly appreciated! These tips will be mainly for class/lesson time, but they could be utilized at other times when appropriate, as well.
1. Set Rules. Make sure that the rules are age appropriate and that there aren't too many for younger children to remember. For my nursery class, I only had one rule: Make happy choices. If a child didn't know what a happy choice was compared to a sad choice, I had a multitude of opportunities to help that child understand what they were and when they made them. Currently, my DH and I teach the 4 &5 year olds. We have 4 rules. They are sit nicely, use a quiet voice, raise your hand if you want to speak, and wait to be called on before talking. We have visuals for these rules and they are displayed during class time through the whole lesson. We also occasionally use these during sharing/singing time as a visual reminder of what behavior is expected.
2. Ignore bad/incorrect behaviors and praise those who follow the rules. For example, if little Jimmy blurts out answers continually, ignore the behavior and praise Lily for raising her hand and ask her to share her thoughts. If Jimmy realizes his mistake and raises his hand while Lily is responding, make sure to thank him for raising his hand after Lily is done and ask if he would like to respond to the question as well. If Jimmy continues to blurt out while others are trying to talk, remind him of the rule. If his sad choices continue, have a presidency member come and take Jimmy for a walk to talk about classroom behavior. Make sure to praise the children in your class after doing something spectacular, like having a good sharing/singing time or walking reverently down the hall to class. NEVER point out poor behavior by singling out a specific child's actions to the class. This only shows the child that you are not worried about their feelings and that they cannot trust you to love them no matter what. With older children, ask to speak to them after class, take them into the hall if you have a team teacher, or pop by their home during the week after making an appointment with their parents so that you can all talk about the problem. Show the child that THEY can be in control of their actions by you being in control of YOUR actions. You're the example in your classroom. Your behavior will be the behavior the children mirror during class time. Be aware of your behavior in the hallway while at church and after church meetings are over. If you expect the children in your class to be reverent in the hallway, your behavior must be consistent as well. The "status" of the building doesn't change because classes are over. It is still the house of the Lord.
3. Avoid taking children to their parents as much as possible. Some of you might think this is "mean" or "impossible" for some of the children in your class. I really feel that parents need to know that their children can learn to be away from them and trust other adults. Each of us was called by the Lord to teach these children, and He is counting on us to help the child AND their parents in the callings they hold. Utilize your Primary presidency members for severe behaviors. Take the criers into the hall and explain that mommy and/or daddy have a job to do in their calling and that the child's job is to be in class. Reassure them that mommy and/or daddy will come and get them as soon as the class is over. Let the children in your class know you love them by praising the good you see in them. Make sure when a child is picked up by their parents that you either say something positive about their behavior or else say nothing and tell the child that you will see them next week and that you're looking forward to seeing them again. The children will see that you won't "tell on them" to their parents and will begin to trust you more, and their parents will appreciate the positivity you show!
4. Keep in mind that kids are kids. Don't expect them to be adults! If you get into class from sharing/singing time and the children are a bit out of control, sing a wiggle song. My favorite is Roll Your Hands (CS #274) because it can be done while the children sit in their seats, but they still get to move around. If singing isn't your strong suit, have a quick "stretch time" where you model a few simple stretches for the children to mimic. Have a "sharing time" at the beginning of class where each child (if they choose to) can come to the front of the class and share something from their week. Not only does this cut down on talking out and unrelated comments, but they are also practicing public speaking skills!
5. Utilize music in your lesson times. The Church has given us amazing songs that will help teach the children in your class basic gospel principles. When used appropriately, music can invite the spirit into your classroom even more than the spoken word. Use the songs in your lessons. Think about having an opening song. Practice the Primary Program songs while the children color at the end of the lesson. Never underestimate the power of music. If you are uncomfortable singing, check out a CD player and the Children's Songs on CD from the library of download them from the Church's website and use them. You may even want to have them playing softly in the background as you teach a lesson. You will see a HUGE difference in the reverence that will come when you use music more in your classroom.
6. Speak softly. Don't carry a large stick. ;) When the children in your class start to get loud, you need to get quiet. YOU are the example of the behavior that is appropriate in your classroom. When our class gets too loud, I stop talking, wait about 15-20 second, and then say somethings quietly. It's usually a direction such as, "If you can hear me, touch your nose." I continue by saying things like, "If you can hear me, touch your head. If you can hear me, turn your voice off. If you can hear me, fold your arms." Because of the verbal direction coupled with different physical acts, the children calm down quicker and are more willing to "do as I'm doing" because I'm talking to the group, not individual children.
7. Learn how to utilize what I call "strategic seating." My DH and I realized about 5 minutes into our current calling that we had some children that should NEVER sit together. Rather than do "assigned seats," we decided to make name tags and put magnets on the back. We have the children stand to the side while we place the names strategically on the chairs, telling them to pay attention so they can see where THEIR name is. Not only does this cut down on the behavior issues, it helps the children to recognize their name. It's worked so well in our class time that we now also use this during sharing/singing time. The children have a choice when it's time to go to class. I can carry their name tag to class for them, or if they can show me they can do it reverently, they can carry their name tag down the hall. This has cut down behaviors during the entire 2 hours that we have the children and makes things OH SO much more pleasant!
That's all for now. Hopefully you've found this information helpful! If I come up with more classroom management tips, I'll post them later!
Now, let's get to the actual lesson, shall we? Primary 2: Lesson 21: I Can Be Reverent.
I've made a few modifications to the lesson based on the needs of the children in our class. Here's a short list of what I'm planning:
*Instead of making the body parts on the print out in the lesson, I'm going to make popsicle sticks with the words of each body part on it, have the children take turns choosing one, and ask them to show the class what they need to do with that body part. It'll kind of be like a "do as I'm doing" game.
*I'll be using my happy/sad sticks with the children during the teacher presentation and giving examples of reverent and irreverent behavior. They'll tell me whether it's a happy or sad choice by showing the correct side of the stick. I'll use the big happy/sad stick while they use their small ones. I keep these in my bag at all times and use the happy/sad choices game any time we have a lot of time left at the end of the class. I've included these in the file--just print the happy faces onto yellow paper and the sad faces onto blue paper to save your color ink. ;)
*I will be using Enrichment Activities #2 & #3. For #2, I'll use the pictures in my file, lay them face down on our table, and have them take turns choosing one. For #3, I'll use the strips from my file and have them choose one at a time and show the appropriate behavior.
I hope that you find my lesson helps, well, helpful! You can download them by clicking here. Have a restful Sabbath! :)