Monday, July 25, 2016

an immersion program

I was reading Sister Durham's recent general conference address, A Child's Guiding Gift, and wanted to study more about an idea she introduced. About teaching our children how to recognize the Spirit, she shared this quote: "Many teachers of foreign languages believe that children learn a language best in 'immersion programs,' in which they are surrounded by other speakers of the language and called upon to speak it themselves. They learn not just to say words, but to speak fluently and even to think in the new language. The [best] 'immersion' setting for a spiritual education is in the home, where spiritual principles can form the basis for daily living."

This idea was new to me, but it made so much sense! The language of the Spirit can feel foreign, and teaching my children how to recognize it is something I'd like to be better at. So I turned to the article from which Sister Durham quoted and I'd like to share it here for my weekly conference report.

Terry and Susan Warner have some great ideas on how to help our children recognize the spirit in their article, Helping Children Hear the Still, Small Voice. But first, they say that parents need to begin with themselves: "In order to make our homes immersion settings for spiritual education, we as parents would be wise to start with ourselves. Some of us may have difficulty teaching about the Spirit because we find it hard to recognize our own spiritual feelings. We may mistakenly be looking for momentous manifestations, but spiritual experiences are more likely to come as a quiet assurance, a burning in the bosom (see D&C 9:8), or an impression that silently prompts us to act or holds us back from acting. . . As we cultivate the Spirit in our own hearts, we become more able to teach, to reach other hearts by the Spirit."

Brother and Sister Warner then go on to give six specific ways to help children learn to recognize, seek, and be guided by their own spiritual feelings. Things like helping them learn to pray, teaching the gospel at their level, and talking to them at every opportunity (something I really need to work on!). They also give some ideas of family activities that invite the Spirit, like family scripture study, attending church meetings, and singing. I found their entire article so helpful and encourage you to read it for yourself.

Recognizing the Spirit is one of the most critical things I want my children to learn, and our home is the best setting for this instruction. I know I can be better at this. I have to be better at this! If my children can be fluent in the language of the Spirit, they will be better able to heed its righteous influence. Providing opportunities for them to feel the Spirit should be one of my top priorities.

Read the entire article here.

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