More Primary Presidency Questions Answered
After posting Primary Presidency Checklist and Baptism Booklet I received comments and emails asking additional questions about being a primary president. Here are the answers to some of YOUR questions. No two primaries are the same and we all must decide among our presidencies what is best for the children in our ward but these ideas may help.
5th Sunday: When I first became president our ward played Cranium with a punch board on every 5th Sunday. The kids enjoyed making the teachers do silly things and the questions and songs were a great way to review what we had been learning. In an effort to find something new I asked our bishop if he would be willing to call a Sister in the ward to be our 5th Sunday teacher. The teacher we chose is so fabulous and the kids LOVE her. She teaches the kids stories from The Friend magazine and encourages them to read The Friend at home. One day I had a 10 year old girl ask me why we never played “the punching” game anymore, I told her that we had Sister Friend come instead and asked her which she preferred. Her response was, “oh, I like sister friend much better!”
Reverence: Before our ward split we had 220 kids in our primary and well over half of them were in Junior primary. Needless to say we had a SERIOUS reverence problem. One Sunday I took the first 10 minutes of sharing time and discussed what it means to be reverent and the kids practiced HOW to be reverent. I would hold up my hand and point to each finger while the kids SHOWED me what we do with our 1-hands, 2-feet, 3-mouths, 4-eyes, 5-ears. For the next few weeks I would start each sharing time by reviewing what is expected. I also purchased a book called “Monday I was a Monkey” by Jennie McClain that talks about being reverent on Sundays. The Junior Primary LOVES to read books so whenever I notice they are getting out of hand I will read “Monday I was a Monkey” and remind them that the day is Sunday.
The first 5 minutes of primary are always CRAZY!! Between finding teachers, talking to parents, gathering supplies for sharing time, meeting new kids and visitors, and checking on Nursery the beginning of primary is pure chaos. Because I hate the idea of the kids sitting around waiting on me I asked the chorister to be responsible for starting primary. She typically sings 2-3 songs, always ending with a reverent song before we actually begin. This works well because by the time a member of the presidency gets up to conduct the kids have already been focusing on something. Here is a copy of our conducting sheet. WORD PDF
Weekly meetings do wonders for helping the primary to run smoothly and ensure the members of the presidency are fully informed as to what is going on. Each month we discuss the following checklist and discuss the progress being made on each item. WORD PDF
President Unity: When I was first called as the president I felt very strongly that we all needed to be on the same page AND be comfortable there together. I no longer have the same counselors I had in the beginning so I know how difficult presidency changes can be. Things we have done in the past to unify us include: weekly meetings (may seem a bit over board but does more to help with unity than anything else, especially when you don’t have too much to talk about so you end up talking about each other, which strengthens friendships), presidency family dinners, presidency family camping trips, dinner or ice cream for birthdays, home visits to kids (drive together!), and monthly birthday parties for the kids (one more reason to get together outside of church). I have heard of presidencies going to the temple together which sounds great! Really the list could go on and on but spending time together serving or simply enjoying one another’s company will do wonders for your presidency’s relationship.
Organizing Talks: Really my secretary should be discussing this topic as this is her responsibility and she does it well. Each Sunday she will place a paper in with the role of one class (junior and senior) to select kids for the scripture, talk, and prayers. We ask the teachers to help ensure each kid in the class gets the opportunity to participate if they want. The teacher fills out the paper and returns it with the role and gives the kids a sticker to put on their shirt to notify their parents of their responsibility for the following week. Each class has the opportunity to be ‘in charge’ of talks multiple times each year.
Extra Time Ideas: Extra time is never an issue during sharing time but some classroom lessons end early. We encourage our teachers to come prepared to keep the kids engaged for the entire 40 minutes they are in class. To help we include a ‘time fillers’ sheet with their lesson manuals that has some review games, Article of Faith games, and discussion topics from the manual.
Communicating with Parents: A few years ago we made each family in the ward a Scripture Reading folder. In the folder there was a list of monthly topics and scriptures as well as a lesson schedule for each of their children. This folder was very difficult to put together and took hours and hours of preparation but it was so nice to have. I never wondered if the parents knew what their kids were learning in primary because they had copies of it all! We weren’t able to do something similar this last year but for 2013 we are planning a monthly newsletter to be sent out via email to all of the parents. The letter will include sharing time topics, music, and lesson schedules as well as recognition to kids being baptized and graduating from primary.
I hope these tips are of use, especially to newly called presidents. Someone also asked me for my opinion on bulletin boards but I must confess I am horrible with being creative. I can organize, plan and copy but I’m not very capable of creating. Sorry!