Friday, July 3, 2015

Feeding His Sheep: 5 Steps for Bringing Singing Time to Less Active Children

"Feed My Sheep"
When I was first called to be Primary Music Leader, about two years ago, I started thinking about bringing Primary music to some of the children who don't come to church. I realized quickly, though, that since they wouldn't know any of the songs, I would have to make a Singing Time plan specifically for them.  That idea just sounded daunting. I didn't feel like I had time or energy to plan two Singing Times every week.  A couple months later I discovered an engaging, developmental approach to teaching music through Sharla, over at  As I adopted her style of teaching, I realized that now, I don't have to plan anything different to help the children who are less active in church.  My activities engage the children every Sunday, whether they know the songs or not.  (Side note: this is especially nice for one-time visitors, too!)  Now I can take my same Singing Time plan and present it to children in their home for a meaningful experience. Here are some tips, if you'd like to do the same:

1.  Choose a Family

First, decide which family you want to involve. Prayer is always helpful in such situations. :)  You can also look at the number and ages of children in the family, or ask your Primary president for suggestions.  I chose a family in my neighborhood, largely because I'm friends with their mom.  I recommend you start with one family and then see if your schedule allows you to do more.  I've started including the extended family of my neighbors, but I'm keeping it at that.  

2.  Talk to the Parents

Start by sharing with the parents how influential spiritual music has been in your life, and then ask if interactive music in the home is something they would like for their family.  I talked to my friend openly, saying I understood that it was hard for them to make it out to church very often.  Then I briefly shared how special Primary music is to me, how I feel Heavenly Father's love for me so clearly through music, and I would love for her children to have that feeling, too.  I asked if she would like me to come over and do a Singing Time in their home, and I mentioned that I incorporate pictures, instruments, and sign language, so that she could see that it would be a fun experience for her children.  One of her children has autism, and I pointed out how my activities would include him.  My friend was happy that I reached out to her, and we scheduled a weekly time that worked for both of us.

3.  Customize Your Song Plan

Although you can use the same activities in the home that you presented the previous Sunday, it helps to know in advance that things will go much faster. It won't take near as long to pass out and take back instruments, for example, so you might need more songs. I start with a gathering song, like I do for Nursery (see my post here), and I do at least two wiggle songs, even if they're older children.  I repeat those songs from week to week, so the children can enjoy the feeling of familiarity.  Also, if the family has both older and younger children, you may need to combine elements from both your Junior and Senior Singing Times.  (See tips on how to teach a combined-age Primary in my post here.)

4.  Include Your Own Children

If you have young children of your own, include them in this week-day Singing Time.  They can help sing the songs, and their participation in the activities will encourage the other children.  

5.  Inform Your Primary President

Your Primary president is aware of which children don't come to church often, and she will definitely be grateful that you are reaching out to them.  Additionally, your president will be aware of any others who are planning to visit that particular family, and she can make sure they won't be overwhelmed by a large number of visits in a given week.

Our main goal in teaching gospel music to children, whether in church or in the home, is to help them feel Heavenly Father's love for them and understand His plan for their happiness.  To me, reaching out to children who don't attend church is answering the Savior's call, "Lovest thou me?...Feed my sheep." (John 21:17.)

Happy singing!

No comments:

Post a Comment