Thursday, June 25, 2015

How To Help Your Child Write a Talk For Primary

Since I grew up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, that means I grew up giving "talks" (short sermons) occasionally in Primary as a 3-11 year old child and then in Sacrament Meeting from 12 to present.  Therefore my dad always teased that my siblings and I had better get an "A" when we took public speaking classes in college!  We should have had an advantage over our classmates and would be a disappointment if we didn't do well. 

Though, it was hard to get used to ending a speech without using the phrase, "In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."  

My friend Ally (blogger at Millennial Mormon Mom) asked me to share pointers on how exactly one would go about helping their child write a talk.  So I decided to sit my kids down and have them prep mock-talks.  Not sure if they'll get a chance to use these, but it's good to practice, right?  

Before I get to that, though, it's important to understand my reasoning behind why I do it the way I do.  I am so passionate about this!

It is so good for children even as young as 3 or 4 to start having these experiences at Church.  We are a Church lead by lay-ministry.  Everyone has opportunity to teach and preach at some point.  

We like to say in the Church that when you are given a talk assignment from the Bishopric, it's not because you're the expert on the topic and therefore the Ward could really learn a lot from you.  Rather, you're given that topic because Heavenly Father knows you need to learn something about it.

It's the same in Primary with the kids.  The children sitting in the room aren't going to learn a stinking thing from the talk given!  There's too much distraction and it's super hard for them to focus on and internalize what another child is mumbling into the microphone.  Giving a talk is for the benefit of the child giving the talk.

Giving a talk in Primary gives the child a chance to practice public speaking, practice writing a talk, and test their knowledge and testimony of a subject.  

In my experience, most parents tend to forget that.  They think that writing Primary talks has to be harder or have a more awesome outcome than it has to be! 

It's common to see parents write the talks for their kid, or have them read a story from the Friend Magazine.  So they're missing potential benefit.  Also, the talks usually end up way too long!  As a former Primary President, trust me when I say, "Short and to the point is always better!"

So my kids have always written their own (with my guidance) and they are always so proud of themselves!  Sure, it can take a little more preparation than just having my kid choose and read a scripture story summary from the back of a Gospel Art Kit picture.  But I feel it is so worth it!

Now on to the nitty-gritty!

When Primus (age 9) has an assignment, she writes it all on her own now. We treat it like any other writing assignment.  She has her prompt and has to write at least 5 sentences: a topic sentence, a conclusion sentence, and three or more body sentences about the topic.  Her conclusion sentence should be her testimony.  "I believe that..."  And then every talk is always ended with, "In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."  As she gets better at it, I'll encourage her to use more scripture references, personal experiences, and scripture stories.

With Tertius and Secundus, though, I still help them.  But their talks are mostly their own words.  I just ask leading questions to get them thinking and then I write down their best answers.  

Tertius is 5 and gave his first talk just a couple weeks ago.  He can't read yet, so I sent him to Primary with the talk we prepared and practiced at home.  Then Secundus stood next to him at the microphone and whispered a sentence at a time into his ear for him to repeat.  It was awesome.

In the following videos, I help Secundus (age 7) with the topic,  "I Can Follow Jesus Christ's Example."  She is a smarty-pants and likes to show off her knowledge of the Gospel.  I've been told by her Primary teachers in the past that she would be in heaven if they would let her teach the lesson each week by herself.  So this was a piece of cake for my confident girl.

**video removed**

In the next video, I work with Tertius (age 5) on the topic, "Jesus Christ Is the Son of God, and He Is a God of Miracles."  His talk ended up a little long.  Before giving it in Primary, I would probably edit out the part about us all being Children of God.

**video removed**

As you can see, his knowledge of the gospel is less expansive.  He would proudly answer "Jesus is the Lord," and, "Make good choices," to every question if I let him.  When write talks with him, it actually ends up being a discussion where I teach him a concept and then ask him to repeat it back to me.

Please feel free to share and comment!  
As always, even though I feel strongly about the benefit of doing things my way, you can disagree with me.  And that's ok.  We can still respect one another.  Ultimately, you do what's best for your family, and I'll do what's best for mine.  I firmly believe in that more than anything!

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