“Home Teaching the Whole Family,” Ensign, Jan. 1993, 74
“I love to have home teachers come,” one sister told me recently, “but my children can’t stand it.” Many home teachers who aren’t accustomed to teaching young children find that if they aren’t sensitive to the needs of children, tiny ones can easily become bored and frustrated rather than enlightened and uplifted by home teaching messages.
If you home teach families with young children, the following pointers can help you ensure that your visits are a positive experience for the entire family.
Use visual aids. Bring props, pictures, objects, and models. Presentations to children are more effective if the home teacher provides lots of “show” with the “tell.” Share examples, artifacts, souvenirs, mock-ups, or other visual aids.
Be interesting. Vary your voice, use eye contact, and speak in an enthusiastic tone. Focus on facts, issues, and ideas that children care about.
Keep it simple. Get to the point without going into a lot of detail. Be sensitive to the limited background and vocabulary of the children you are addressing. Emphasize basic concepts and state them in easy-to-understand terms.
Involve everyone. Use questions to encourage thinking and make sure little ones understand. Ask children to make predictions about how a lesson or story might end—and write the predictions down. Call for volunteers to hold visual aids or help demonstrate. Try drawings, role plays, or games as ways of involving young children in home teaching lessons. Touching and tasting will always be more effective than simply telling.
Watch the time. Limit what you say to fit the attention spans of the children. Notice when young ones begin to fidget, stretch, look around the room, or talk to brothers and sisters. These are signals that it’s time to move on.
Be spontaneous. Be willing to adjust when questions come up or when children get especially excited about a particular point of the discussion. Don’t be taken aback when some questions and comments don’t have anything at all to do with the subject at hand. Be flexible and enjoy the moment.
I call this the VISITS formula, with emphasis on six key words:
Remember the key words, and review them in your mind as you go to visit the families assigned to you. You spend a lot of time preparing lessons and visiting your assigned families. Those efforts will be more effective if you will plan lessons to capture the enthusiasm of the children you visit.—Brad Wilcox, Laramie, Wyoming