Lessons at a Glance: What Our Children Are Learning
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“Lessons at a Glance: What Our Children Are Learning,” Ensign, Dec. 1981, 55

Lessons at a Glance:

What Our Children Are Learning

We were searching for highly successful parents to help with future family home evening manuals and other related tasks.

I knew full well that being a successful parent didn’t necessarily mean that every child was perfect. (Even wonderful parents like Adam and Eve or Lehi and Sariah had some wayward children.) Nevertheless, in my interviews I discovered a number of parents who were consistently successful where it counts the most: raising righteous children. Although their approaches varied greatly, this group of parents had something in common, as revealed by their experiences:

Six righteous sons. Like a doctor making his hospital rounds, one father told of visiting each of his six sons every night, silently and earnestly petitioning for the influence of the Spirit as he went. He would typically feel prompted in one room to simply listen and learn; in another to give counsel; in yet another to relate an experience or leave a thought which taught a needed lesson without direct confrontation. The results have been outstanding: Six returned missionaries. Six active sons. Six temple marriages.

Horizontal sharing. “What a great purchase I made when I bought that backyard trampoline!” one father exclaimed. “Not only because my children had fun on it, but also because I would often lie on my back with a child, looking up at the stars, and we would talk of eternal things. Often I would be the learner as my child would describe important principles learned at church or at school.” This parental concern has borne precious fruit: alert, perceptive children who are excited with life.

Sunday family building. “We have gathered our family members together on Sunday for twenty-five years (long before the consolidated meeting schedule!),” one sister told me. “My husband usually had a spiritual message prepared for us, after which we let the children teach us the songs they were learning in church. We often finished up with a ‘gripe’ session in which family members described problems we were having in our family and how we could improve. After listening carefully to their concerns, my husband often felt moved to interview a child privately.” These children today are all strong, active, energetic, and intensely family-oriented.

Parents become listeners. One parent told me, “The dinner hour is sacred. Our neighbors have learned not to phone from six to seven. We ask each child to teach us something he learned that day which he didn’t know before. Consequently our children have learned to listen intently to their teachers. When we watch general conference on television, we prepare our children to capture new and wonderful messages so that they can share them with us and their friends. Some of our children even take notes! For weeks afterward we discuss these talks, how we are applying them in our lives, and how we are being a blessing to others as a result of this instruction from the Lord’s representatives.” The children of these wise parents now actively seek out opportunities to share what they learn. They have been influential in the reactivation and conversion of several grateful Church members.

The family home evening coach. “During Sunday personal time,” a parent told me, “I like to visit with each child. I often ask one of them to teach a family home evening lesson from the family home evening manual, from one of the Church magazines, or from a lesson they heard at church or seminary. I let this child teach the lesson to me prior to presenting it to the family.” As a result of this practice, these children are alert in church to topics they can teach at home.

So, what are the common threads consistently running through the experiences of highly successful parents? Call them caring, or listening to the Spirit, or spending time with each child—each is important to raising righteous children. I like to weave all of these elements into a single principle: Parents who succeed tend to be those who prayerfully and lovingly assist each child to apply and share the gospel.

In our efforts to assist our children, it may be helpful to know the gospel principles that they are learning in church. We will then be better prepared to help them apply these principles in daily living.

Following is a chart showing the gospel principles being studied by our children at church in 1982.

What Are Your Children Studying?


Overall Objective:

To help parents teach their children the gospel of Jesus Christ and help them live it.*

18 months–3 years old

Children learn that they have a Heavenly Father and that church can be a happy place.

3 year olds

Children learn that Heavenly Father shows his love for us by providing for our needs.

4 & 5 year olds
(Star A & B)

Children learn that Heavenly Father and Jesus love each of us and planned for us to come to this earth.

6 & 7 year olds
(CTR A & B)

Children grow in love of Heavenly Father and Jesus and learn to follow their teachings. Scripture emphasis: The four gospels of the New Testament.

8 & 9 year olds
(Valiant A & B)

Children learn that they can be valiant in keeping their baptismal covenants and can feel the love of Heavenly Father and Jesus and the power of the Holy Ghost. Scripture emphasis: Old Testament.

10 year olds
(Blazer A, Merrie Miss A)

Boys learn to honor the priesthood and prepare to receive it by living gospel principles. Girls grow in knowledge and character by living gospel principles. Scripture emphasis: Bible.

11 year olds
(Blazer B, Merrie Miss B; also Sunday School Course 11)

Boys and girls increase their desire to live gospel teachings as girls prepare for young womanhood and boys prepare to receive the priesthood. Scripture emphasis: Book of Mormon.

  • The Articles of Faith are also taught gradually throughout the Primary courses. Although children are helped to memorize the Articles of Faith, the emphasis is on assisting the children to understand their meaning. Children should be helped to memorize the Articles of Faith in the home.

Sunday School

Overall Objective:

To build faith in Jesus Christ and increase commitment to the doctrines he taught through studying the scriptures and the teachings of the living prophets.

12 year olds
(Course 12)

Introduces the origin, contents, and structure of the Book of Mormon and Old Testament. (Seminary preparation.)

13 year olds
(Course 13)

Introduces the origin, contents, and structure of the New Testament, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. (Seminary preparation.)

14 year olds
(Course 14)

Introduces presidents of the Church and summarizes their messages to youth.

15 year olds
(Course 15)

Young people learn about the plan of salvation.

16 year olds
(Course 16)

Young people study words of living prophets from recent general conferences. They also learn to keep personal and family records.

17 year olds
(Course 17)

Young people study the words of living prophets from recent general conferences and learn the attitudes, skills, and principles that will prepare them for temple marriage.

Aaronic Priesthood

Overall Objective:

To assist Aaronic Priesthood holders to be worthy, effective, committed representatives of Christ.

Quorum Training

Young men learn priesthood responsibilities, quorum brotherhood, preparation for the Melchizedek Priesthood and missionary service, respect for womanhood, preparation for courtship and temple marriage.

Young Women

Overall Objective:

To help each young woman develop a personal testimony of the gospel and strengthen her relationship with the Savior.

12–13 year olds
(A Manual)

(B Manual)

Young women recognize their own worth and potential in their relationship with Heavenly Father, family, and friends. Focus: individual.

Young women learn the importance of the family and accepting family responsibilities. Focus: family.

14–15 year olds
(A Manual)

(B Manual)

Young women learn about accepting responsibility in the Church. Focus: church.

Young women learn to share skills, talents, and the gospel with others. Focus: community.

16–17 year olds
(A Manual)

(B Manual)

Young women learn to use the gospel in solving problems and making decisions. Focus: gospel.

Young women learn of their relationship to the priesthood. Focus: commitment to the Savior.


Additional lessons have been prepared in Teaching Young Women (PXYW0238).


Church History/Doctrine and Covenants (Jan–June 1982)

Young people view the Church in historical perspective and learn that they can work to build the kingdom of God.

Book of Mormon (Sept–Dec 1982)

Young people study examples of witnesses for Christ and learn how to become witnesses and share the gospel with others.

  • Grant E. Barton, a father of five, is manager of Church curriculum planning and coordinator of minority proselyting in the Utah Salt Lake North Mission.