“Home: The Heart of Learning,” Liahona, October 2014, 20–25
“Please be sure to do the assigned reading for next week’s lesson.” Do those words sound familiar? They often come from a pleading teacher at the end of a Church class.
And while it’s definitely important to be prepared for your Sunday lessons, do you sometimes feel like your main goal in studying and pondering is so that you can be fully ready for Sunday?
Actually, it should be the other way around.
All of the Church’s “teaching, programs, and activities [are] home centered and Church supported.”1 That means our Church meetings are really meant to support individual and family learning. As Presiding Bishop Gary E. Stevenson taught, “The primary place of teaching and learning is the home.”2 When learning and teaching are centered in the home, they carry power that can lead to conversion.
That’s the message of the 2014 annual auxiliary training, Learning and Teaching in the Home and the Church, available online at annualtraining.lds.org. “None of us are minimizing the in-chapel, in-meetinghouse teaching,” says Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “We’ve all done that all of our lives, but we’d like it to be 24/7 out in the lives that we’re living.”3 As you incorporate that 24/7 learning into everyday moments in your family’s life, you can establish a strong foundation for a “house of learning” (D&C 88:119) that will provide you and your family with spiritual shelter and protection.
You may not always see immediate results, but when you take advantage of simple moments for learning and teaching in your daily routine, it can have a powerful effect. Here’s how several families have noticed that influence in their lives.
“There are times when we may feel awkward having formal conversations about some gospel-related topics. Informal teaching moments have truly blessed us to teach important lessons to our children. Also, there are far more informal teaching moments in a day than formal teaching moments, so we really grab these opportunities to teach our children important principles. For example, I teach about honesty while grocery shopping. My children learn principles easier when they see how to apply them.”
Mona Villanueva, Philippines
“I drop my daughters off to school by bus every morning, so we have many opportunities to talk. On one recent occasion, we noticed a husband and wife having a disagreement. My daughters quickly turned to me and waited for me to comment. Instead I asked them how they felt about what had happened. They told me they thought a man should never talk to his wife that way. After that, we had a conversation about marriage and relationships. Our 30-minute bus trip ended up being very edifying and uplifting.”
Mario Lorenz, Guatemala
“Informal teaching moments have helped me have a better relationship with my children. When we are sitting at the kitchen table having an after-school snack, we discuss what happened during their school day. Often one of them will say something that a friend said or how he or she felt when someone said or did something. I’m then able to share a personalized testimony and discuss how my child felt about the situation. I think by having open discussions when children are relaxed, they are more willing to discuss items of importance when the need arises because they have a level of trust, knowing that their parents will listen.”
Alyson Frost, Greece
“My wife and I realize that it’s first our responsibility to teach our children and not the leaders’ responsibility, but we are grateful for what they do and we assist where we can. Our ward has great leaders who really focus on the youth and the children and do as much as they can to help them see their full potential based on what the parents have done. I’ve met with the bishop on a few occasions, and I have good communication with the youth leaders and often ask about my children and their progress. The fact that we communicate frequently about the progress of our children helps us all to understand how to help each of them.”
Jesse N. Arumugam, South Africa
“Scripture study helps me learn of Christ and His attributes so that I can become like Him. It also gives me a greater abundance of the Spirit, which guides me and teaches me how I can apply those things I have learned so that I may be prepared to face the challenges of life and the temptations Satan throws at me. Without this blessing in my life I know that I will fall short of my potential as a son of God.”
Nathan Woodward, England
In addition to strengthening the power of learning and teaching in the home, we can also strengthen the classroom experience at church. As teachers apply these 10 principles, they will foster conversion in the lives of those they teach.
Counsel with parents, who have the primary role as teachers, to identify needs of class members, and then teach to those needs.
Prepare and teach by the Spirit. Identify questions and learning activities that will provide Spirit-led discussions and nurture class members spiritually.
Teach people, not lessons.
Focus on the core doctrines of the gospel.
Teach one or two key principles in depth rather than trying to cover all the lesson material.
Invite the Spirit by letting everyone participate (see D&C 88:122).
Include a powerful invitation to act—not just something to go home and read but something to go home and live.
Bear your testimony about the doctrine—at the end of the class and whenever the Spirit prompts you.
Live the gospel, and “set in order” your own home (see D&C 93:43–44, 50).
Find ways to let the teaching continue through informal moments in everyday life.