Weekly Thoughts and Tips

June 2012


Teaching Children with Disabilities

By Julie Dockstader Heaps
June 29, 2012

My daughter Hannah has modulation sensory disorder and can become agitated, withdraw, and cry when her environment becomes loud or chaotic. When she became a Sunbeam two years ago, I was worried that Hannah would be over-stimulated in Primary. I found I didn’t need to be worried—her Primary teachers are patient and loving and willing to learn.

One teacher asked a friend who works professionally with children who have Hannah’s condition for suggestions on what we could do to help Hannah have a positive Primary experience. “Was that all right?” the teacher asked me. Was it all right? I hugged her and thanked her for caring enough to learn about my daughter’s disorder and approach me.

Here are some of the things that calm Hannah:

  • “Fidget toys,” such as small fuzzy balls she can hold
  • Dim lights and quiet songs and voices
  • Repetitive movement, like slightly rocking in a chair

What works for Hannah won’t work for everyone. Mike Thompson, a stake president and occupational therapist, said that finding what works best for a specific child is “trial and error.” Teachers need to remember that parents know their child best. For more information about teaching children with disabilities, see Disability Resources.

For Little Friends … and Family Night Too?

By Marissa Widdison
June 22, 2012

My mom has a big filing cabinet in her garage full of manila envelopes. Each envelope contains a family home evening lesson or activity. As children, we loved searching through the files and pulling out a favorite story or game to share with the family on Monday night.

I've started to create my own collection of FHE stories using the "For Little Friends" section of the Friend. These stories are organized into short paragraphs and illustrations. To make an FHE lesson, I cut out each illustration and glue the corresponding paragraph on the back. Then I cover each piece with contact paper. I put these in a manila envelope, which I label with the name of the story and the topic. I also include a copy of the original Friend pages. Thanks to this month's edition of the Friend, I now have a child-friendly lesson on priesthood blessings ready to go! I can't wait to go back through previous "For Little Friends" stories and fill more manila envelopes.

Modesty Matters

By Jocelyn Christensen
June 15, 2012

Summertime is a time to go barefoot—to run and play in the sun.  But modesty still matters even when you are trying to stay cool.

modesty checklist from the May 2010 Friend provides an excellent list of dress standards to help children determine how to dress themselves appropriately.  We’ve printed this list out and posted it near where the kids get dressed.

Good reminders to double-check that “my shirt is not low-cut” and “I don’t look sloppy” help children take charge of their own modesty.

Of course, the most important criteria on the list is this:  “If I were with Jesus Christ, would I feel comfortable with my appearance?” 

I printed the list to remind my children about modesty, but it helps me dress more modestly as well.  And the example that I set for my own children is what will teach them this principle best! 

(Another printable modesty poster can be found here.)

Serving Up a Little Boost

By Tiffany Lewis
June 8, 2012

A few years ago I read a story in the Friend about a family that had a special dinner plate. Each night, they gave it to one child in recognition of something special he or she did that day. We recently started this in our family. The plate is nothing fancy—just a decorative collector’s plate I picked up at a thrift store for a few dollars. However, my kids get excited each night to see who will get the plate. It gives them a little boost to hear praise for sharing, working hard in their music practice, or obeying quickly. What has surprised me most is how much I’ve enjoyed the daily tradition. I find myself looking for my kids’ small successes, and it puts me in the right frame of mind to be a positive parent. I think the plate is here to stay!

When We're Helping, We're Happy

By Hilary Watkins Lemon
June 1, 2012

This month's issue of the Friend is all about serving in our homes, schools, wards, and communities. The magazine is full of great tips and ideas for helping others, but it can be hard to know how to involve children in service activities or find opportunities for helping in your area. Here are a few more ideas to get you started: 

  • Service need not be reserved for urgent situations! Encourage children to leave cheerful notes or small handmade gifts for their friends and family members. 
  • Find out how others help. Ask friends of other faiths how their congregations serve in the community. Local government or municipal centers may keep lists of ongoing service opportunities. 
  • Create an environment of service. The more we talk about service as a family and show children how we serve, the more naturally they will want to serve too!