“Preparation for Primary,” Ensign, June 1995, 73
As I watched the row of three-year-olds—the youngest members of the Primary—I was reminded of jumping beans. The children sat still for only a few moments before the wiggles set in. Although children who attend the nursery or eighteen-month to three-year-old class do learn some Primary songs and become familiar with the pattern of attending a class, for many youngsters the adjustment of moving from the nursery to the Primary can be difficult. Among other things, they have to sit still longer, interact with more people, and become accustomed to new faces. Here are some ideas parents can use to help a child prepare for the transition into Primary.
Be positive about Primary. This will help a child look forward to the change in his or her life. A few months before January, begin talking about what your child can expect. If you have older children, they can help by telling their younger sibling about their Primary experiences. It may help to talk to the Primary president or to the teacher of the three-year-olds to find out what the class will be doing. As you talk about Primary with a positive attitude, your child will be less apprehensive about the move.
Sing Primary songs together. Ask the Primary music leader for a list of the songs the children sing often and are currently learning in Primary. If you sing these songs at home with your children, they will recognize the songs when they get to Primary and will feel a greater sense of belonging. You do not need to sing well or even know anything about music to make this an effective activity.
Read to your child. One of the hardest things for little children to do in class is to sit still. We found that reading together is one of the best ways to help them learn to sit still and pay attention. At first we sit a child on our lap and just turn the pages of a picture book. After a while we begin to ask questions: Do you see the kitten? What color is the clown’s hair? Why is the girl smiling? Then we read the story to the child. We have found that reading together for half an hour before nap time and again before bedtime works very well.
With some advance preparation, your child’s move from the nursery to the Primary can be pleasant and exciting. By using these ideas and incorporating some of your own, you can help ensure that your child’s transition to Primary will be a positive experience.—Kristina M. Fowler, Baton Rouge, Louisiana