“What could be more basic to a learning effort than this knowledge that God is the power by which all things were made and governed and that he is in all things, comprehends all things, and is the source of all enlightenment?”
–Dallin H. Oaks
I just passed 5 years of blogging and recently I’ve been watching my blog post counter move closer and closer to 1000, and thinking about what I’d like to say for my 1000th post.
The blog, subtitled “Life, cello, and homeschool adventures,” besides being a family and homeschool record, has doubled as a baby scrapbook, final resting place for random thoughts that keep me up at night, and most recently an advertisement for the 1940 US Census Community Project. (Do click on that link, it’s important!)
But if I could pick one topic to write about tonight that is even more important to me, and probably one of the most meaningful threads of this blog, it would be that of parents teaching children the doctrines of the gospel. Obviously, being a homeschooling mom, I get to teach my children lots of different things, or at least kindle the fire for knowledge in their little hearts. But the most rewarding experiences of our parenting journey thus far have come from our interactions with our children as we’ve studied the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“You have a dual heritage which you must pass along; the secular knowledge that history has amassed over the centuries, along with new knowledge, brought by scholarly research, but also the vital and revealed truths that have been given to us from heaven. ”
–Spencer W. Kimball
I’ve hardly mentioned the LDS General Conference that was just held last weekend (I kind of got sidetracked by the 1940 Census this week) but we had a wonderful weekend. I always look forward to general conference weekend. Twice a year, it’s the spiritual shot that I need to keep me going. DH was working the entire weekend, so it was just the boys and I. I didn’t go overboard printing out conference packets of activities to do because they never do most of them anyway and keeping papers and crayons out of the hands of the 2-year-old is more trouble than it’s worth. The boys made a tent to watch conference from (that’s their one big must-do) and we made it through 8 (mostly peaceful) hours of watching and learning from our prophet and other church leaders. Now we get to study the talks given and for that I’m excited!
Our bishop challenged our ward last fall to read the entire October conference Ensign before this April’s conference. I started doing that on my own a few years ago for the first time ever, although I noticed I had slacked off a little bit in the past year or so. We had started reading conference talks here and there together last summer after I was looking for quotes for copywork for the boys. Rather than use meaningless sentences to practice handwriting, I thought why not use the words of the men we revere as living prophets? Summer is never the time to keep a good thing going though and we didn’t follow through as well as we should have.
When Bishop T issued his challenge, we decided we were going to meet it as a family. We started reading talks on Sunday afternoon or evening, but soon realized DH had worked a few too many Sundays to meet our goal. So for 2012, general conference talks have become our family home evening lessons on Monday nights as well. (I worried that one day our children would realize that other families have games and treats and activities for family home evening and that we rarely do. DH said not to worry, one day they’ll thank us for teaching them the gospel.)
I’m so thrilled to say that we did it! It meant reading four talks the weekend before last, but we read every talk together as a family! The past few months have been some of the most amazing of our lives! Let me repeat that: It’s been amazing!
There has been such a great spirit in our home as we’ve studied together. Part of that is due to studying the gospel, but I think an equal part of that has come from studying together. We came to earth to be in families and part of our great responsibility as parents is to teach our children. As parents, we’ve found that discussing the words of the living prophets has helped us with issues we’ve needed to work on as a family. Ofttimes the talk we’ve chosen to study is one that seems tailored just for us. We’ve also found these words of President Packer to be true:
“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.”
We’ve noticed behaviors have improved as we’ve studied the gospel and talked about true doctrine. People compliment me on my children’s behavior and on their knowledge at church. “They know so much!” they say, “And they’re so well behaved.” We have our rowdy moments, certainly, but my answer to both is, we teach our children the gospel. They need it and they don’t need it watered down or simplified. I think doing so can actually be an insult to them. They want more and I am convinced that in these latter days, our children need as much gospel knowledge as we can give them. I have been in awe the past few months as I have watched our boys grow in their understanding. I am just so grateful for the opportunity we’ve had to facilitate their learning. I know the Spirit is the true teacher here. I in turn have learned so much from my sons as I’ve listened to how they’re applying these doctrines to their own lives and strengthening their testimonies.
Here, in fact, is what we do, and I just have to show this picture.
We bought everyone their own copy of the Ensign and even E knows when we’re ready to read. Everyone’s Ensigns are in a box in the living room and he will get them all out and scatter them around the living room floor as we always seem to end up there eventually. He absconded with DH’s copy one day and he happily colors in it (DH reads on the ipad now) and tries to underline as he sees his older brothers doing. We take turns reading the talks out loud, usually three paragraphs per person until someone gets so enthralled in what they’re reading they just keep going. Then someone else, usually one of the boys, makes sure to rebuke the careless reader who doesn’t count because they themselves want a turn to read. They highlight what stands out to them (A has been known to highlight an entire talk) and then we discuss what we learned individually from that particular talk. Simple, yet profound and so amazing!
May I insert a Mastercard commercial for a moment?
One General Conference edition of the Ensign:
Package of Office Max highlighters:
Hearing your 11-year-old say, “Wow, this was such a great talk! There is just so much to learn here!”:
It is priceless and I can’t wait to begin again!