“Lightening Up Family Home Evening,” Ensign, Feb. 1992, 64
The first Monday night after we were married, my husband and I sat down on the stiff little couch in our basement apartment and started singing, “There is beauty all around. …” We couldn’t finish the hymn because we were crying for joy. There was love in our home, and we were happy to be a family.
Some years later, having good family home evenings became more challenging as we struggled to keep the attention of our three little children. When our oldest child would cry and pout and we would have to put him in his room, I would think, “Oh my, aren’t we having great family home evenings.” We were serious about teaching the gospel to our children, but we didn’t seem to be succeeding.
We gradually learned to loosen up and make our home evenings more enjoyable. Here are some ideas that have helped us:
Taking turns. Children need to hear from both parents, so my husband and I take turns giving the lesson. As our children have grown older, they have given lessons too. By the time our oldest child turned seven, he could present a good lesson by himself.
Memorization. We use home evening as a time to memorize a scripture or an article of faith, which we then post in the kitchen and refer to during the week.
Participation. Everyone helps in some way. One child presents a flannel-board story, another conducts, another leads the music, and so on. Other assignments include preparing refreshments, leading games, and listing appointments and activities on the family calendar.
Resources. We use the Primary lesson manuals extensively for teaching our younger children. The manuals are inexpensive, and they provide wonderful stories, games, and ideas for other activities. The Family Home Evening Resource Book and the Friend are also excellent resources.
Flannel board. Using construction paper and clear contact paper, I have made lots of simple flannel-board figures that are captivating teaching tools. I keep them filed according to the scripture story or gospel topic they illustrate.
Award time. We end our home evenings by recognizing the good deeds or behavior of our children during the past week. Each child receives a badge to that effect. Dad emcees the event, calling the name of each child and reading the award as the child stands on an elevated spot in the room. We all cheer as Dad gives each child a mighty bear hug. Award time is the best part of the night.
Sometimes our Monday nights are so hectic that we have to take the phone off the hook. At other times we have the lesson on Sunday and the activity on Monday. Despite the effort it takes to plan an uplifting family home evening, it is still the best thing we do as a family.—Nancy Chapple Grant, Centerville, Utah