As a missionary, I memorized the Standard of Truth written by Joseph Smith. I always thought that it was meant only for missionaries. But recently I have concluded that it is for mothers too.
The Lord has asked us as covenant keeper to proclaim the Lord’s teachings unto the entire world and to prepare to accomplish what the Prophet Joseph Smith proclaimed – to see that “the truth of God [goes] forth boldly, nobly … till it has penetrated every continent … swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished. …” (Documentary History of the Church, vol. 4, p. 540.)
In order to proclaim and to prepare the world, we must teach our children not only to be righteous covenant keepers but to become effective teachers too. As mothers we are their teachers, but how are we teaching them to become teachers?
Here is how to teach them how to teach:
The church has two new manuals/programs to help us: Gospel Teaching and Learning and Teaching Christ’s Way. They are both fantastic in helping us become better teachers and teaching how to teach.
Here are a few things the Savior said about teaching:
It is our duty as mothers to prepare our children “to develop a strong foundation and belief in the true gospel of Jesus Christ” and to improve our teaching techniques to bring about worthwhile changes in their lives. It is our responsibility to “teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom” (D&C 88:77) and teach it effectively so that we, ourselves, our children and their children will be able to perceive and comprehend the teachings of our Master. And we help them by teaching them to teach effectively.
The next few Table Talk Discussions will be focusing on a learning pattern to help you and your children how to teach effectively so that we, as mothers, are preparing to accomplish and witness the “truth of God [going] forth boldly, nobly, till it has penetrated every continent … swept every country and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of Godshall be accomplished. …”
I have wondered if my children were understanding what I was teaching them. This week while studying the colonial time period and ready Johnny Tremain. I would stop and ask my children if they understood what I was teaching them. I specifically was observing the learning of my six-year-old. He often could not tell me anything about what we had read and I’d have to retell it or have one of the older children tell him what we read.
This bothered me so I talked to him about it. I’d tell him, “I’m going to read this small section and have you tell me what we read.” I would read and stop to ask him. He would almost verbatim tell me what we read. The first few times this satisfied me. He told me the same words I read. Then it occurred to me he was only memorizing the words and not really understanding them. “Now what?” I remembered asking myself.
One day while reading Johnny Tremain I stopped and asked everyone what “desertion” meant. They didn’t really know, so I defined it. Then their older college-age brother came in and defined it even better and we talked about examples. When I felt everyone understood I went back to reading. The story about Pumpkin, Johnny’s friend getting caught and tried for desertion continued. Tirzaan, my 6-year-old got up from the floor and sat next to me and asked, “What does desertion mean?”
I was shocked. Wait, how in the world could he not have gotten anything from the discussion we just had? I explained it to him again trying not to sound frustrated and a little disgusted.
I pondered on this incident for some time. I have concluded – children must have a question and seek the answer before true understanding can happen. This is a life-changing principle for me. I’m so glad I discovered it and will now be a better teacher for my children.