What Are Your Children Learning in Church?
previous next

“What Are Your Children Learning in Church?” Ensign, Dec. 1982, 21

What Are Your Children Learning in Church?

During Sunday dinner we often ask our children what they learned in Church. Their answers, humorous at times, are really quite educational. For example, our four-year-old has talked a great deal recently about being a spirit before coming to earth. She has also said with conviction that she was on Jesus’ side rather than on Satan’s. Our nine-year-old came home from Church wanting to know if dogs will have dirt in their eyes when they are resurrected. This question led us into a wonderful discussion about life after death.

Have you ever considered that after your child attends various Church programs and classes, his most valuable learning resource could be you? When you deliver your children to their classrooms, are they “teachable”?

After a child enters a classroom and the door closes, there is little, if anything, a parent can do to help him learn. There are, however, many things parents can do before class to prepare children for the learning experience, to help them become teachable—and then after class to reinforce what they have been taught.

The Church enters a new curriculum year in January. The following suggestions are offered to help you help your children get more from their specific course of study this coming year.

1. Instill in your children a desire to learn the principles of the gospel. Consider the power of example. When, for instance, your children hear you discussing gospel subjects at the dinner table, see you reading the scriptures and the general conference reports, and know that you take the scriptures with you to your priesthood, Relief Society, and Sunday School classes, they will usually desire to do the same.

2. Teach your children reverence. Impress on them that reverence is much more than simply being quiet. It is a respect for sacred things, which include doctrines and principles of the gospel. It is a respect for the rights of others in the classroom, who are trying to learn the gospel.

3. Teach your children to pray and to recognize the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Help them to understand that the Holy Ghost can lead them to know and understand all truth.

4. Teach the gospel in your home every day, especially during family home evening. Bedtime stories from Church-published scripture storybooks (such as New Testament Stories or Children’s Scripture Story Book) will help children understand the scriptures and increase their participation in Primary, where they can share their knowledge and help make class discussions more interesting.

In the home, you will find ample opportunity to reinforce the lessons your children are taught in Sunday School and Primary. Take advantage, for example, of moments when you can sit down with each of them and say, “Tell me what you learned in Sunday School today.” Perhaps your smaller children will remember only a key word or two from their lesson. If they have completely forgotten, help them out with suggestions. A question asked of your teenager may start a week-long discussion of a gospel principle!

Such a practice can result in at least three major benefits: (1) As your children summarize the kernel of the lesson they have just learned, it will become more firmly fixed in their minds. (2) In discovering what your children have been learning, you will become better prepared to help them apply this knowledge when special teaching moments arise. (3) When your children repeat what they have learned, you, and they, can then more effectively measure their performance—and help them improve their actions.

When your children see that you care whether or not they learn in church, they will be encouraged to learn more and better. In many classes, especially those for younger children, producing crayon drawings and cutouts is a regular activity. Keep the artwork and other items that they make. Display them for an appropriate time in a prominent place in your home. When you take them down, keep them all together in a folder. Let your children look through the folder occasionally to help them realize that there is a continuity to the lessons. This will also let them know that you value their work.

Whenever appropriate, coordinate the lessons in your family home evenings with the lessons your children are receiving in church, and let them report what they have learned.

Children too young to present lessons have at least learned several songs in Primary and Sunday School. Let them sing! Have your children also draw upon current lessons when they prepare talks for Church.

Let your older children teach often in family home evenings, using their current lesson materials. It will not only reinforce the material learned, it will give them a significant success experience in teaching a sympathetic audience within the secure atmosphere of the home.

The sacred trust—to teach children the gospel of Jesus Christ—rests upon parents. To assist them in fulfilling this trust, the Church provides effective and systematic instruction on the plan of salvation and all of its attendant blessings through the curricula of the Aaronic Priesthood, Young Women, Seminary, Sunday School, and Primary programs. This correlated program of instruction is outlined in the following chart.

What Your Children Are Learning in Church


Overall Objective:

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

18 months–3 years

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 year olds

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

7 year olds

Children learn about baptism and becoming a member of the Church. Scripture emphasis: Book of Mormon.

8 year olds
(Valiant A)

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.

9 year olds
(Valiant B)

From the lives of faithful Latter-day Saints and prophets, children learn to be true to their baptismal covenants.

10 year olds
(Blazer A, Merrie Miss A)

Boys and girls learn from Church history to honor the priesthood and to grow in character by living gospel principles. Scripture emphasis: Doctrine and Covenants.

11 year olds
(Blazer B, Merrie Miss B; 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 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 the Old Testament. (Seminary preparation.)

13 year olds
(Course 13)

Introduces the origin, contents, and structure of the New Testament, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the 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 the 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 Heavenly Father.

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).


Book of Mormon (Jan.–June 1983)

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

Old Testament (Sept.–Dec. 1983)

Young people study the Old Testament with emphasis on the covenant God made with the ancient prophets and their hope and faith in the coming of the Messiah.

  • Josiah W. Douglas, manager of Church Curriculum Planning and Development and father of seven children, is bishop of the Draper, Utah, Fifth Ward.

Photography by Jed A. Clark