During this time while we are quarantined and home with our children let us find beauty and peace through prayer, scripture, poetry, and singing hymns. We pray that when your children look back on this period of their lives they will remember the special time they got to spend with you, learning about the gospel and seeing your testimony. THIS is the BEST WAY to start your homeschool day.
President Uchtdorf taught, "Discipleship is not about doing things perfectly; it's about doing things intentionally." This is encouraging to all of us mothers who are trying (and sometimes failing) to be intentional as we raise and teach our children. Yet, it's easy to lose sight of our grand intentions when the dishes aren't done and your son is behind in reading. We often rearrange our priorities based on what "urgent" need is calling the loudest.
"We have to forego some good things in
order to choose others that are better or best
because they develop faith in the Lord
Jesus Christ and strengthen our families."
DALLIN H. OAKS
We want to encourage you to find time for those best things each day in the form of a Daily Devotional, even if it means spending your time differently than you normally would. With the introduction of Come, Follow Me and the new program for children and youth, the leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have made it clear that a weekly Family Home Evening or a brief scripture study each day is not enough. If we want our children to thrive spiritually when they are away from our homes, we need to spend dedicated time every single day in learning about the Savior Jesus Christ and in helping them see His hand in everything they do and study.
In the early days of the church, religious schools were established wherein children and teenagers could study science, math, literature (and all subjects) through the lens of the gospel of Christ.
As public government schools became more common, church leaders created an after-school program that allowed students to review all that they had learned in school that day or week- and how each subject related to the Truth of the gospel.
Lack of time and participation eventually led to these programs being discontinued and morphing into Seminary and Institute classes, programs only available to teenagers and young adults.
While these programs are a blessing and a strength to families and the youth, they do not relieve parents of the responsibility to teach their children.
President Uchtdorf said, "The righteous work we do within the walls of our homes is most sacred; its benefits are eternal in nature. It cannot be delegated."
Daily Devotional is our own spin on a Morning Basket or Circle Time. This is a practice that is common among homeschooling families, but is something that we believe can strengthen any family, regardless of the time of day you manage it or whether or not your children attend a traditional school.
Unlike a typical classroom, most families have children of many different ages- sometimes from a newborn all the way up to a highschooler. Toddlers and teenagers have different sleep patterns and activities, your Kindergartener needs more help than your 6th grader, all of your children have different needs, different speeds, different books, tasks, activities and schedules.
Daily Devotional is a chance to be together and focus your attention on what matters most. We believe that the Savior and his words should be at the center of your Daily Devotional, but it is also a chance to introduce those beautiful and good things that often get overlooked in a hectic day. It is easy to give insufficient attention to things like poetry, art, or music in our own and our children's educations. Daily Devotional does not need to be solemn or reverent. It is not a replacement for Family Home Evening or even daily scripture study. Rather, it is a chance for your family to set the tone for the day and refocus attention on the Savior and each other; a chance for your family to fall in love with true, beautiful things and see how the Lord's hand is in everything even geometry.
In the Church of Jesus Christ's original "Ward Elementaries" they developed a program for each religious class. You should prayerfully determine which parts of this pattern would work best for your family.
"Classes are opened by singing ... After the children have sung a hymn, their hearts are attuned for the second step, which is prayer," said Anthon H Lund of the First Presidency. Then each child would learn a "memory gem or good thought" by repeating a scripture, poem, or quotation after the teacher until it was committed to memory. Stories, testimonies, the sharing of personal experiences, service, and a closing hymn were also included each day.
We recommend starting slow and developing your Daily Devotional over a few weeks- or even months. Start with a poem, prayer and a hymn, and then add things until you have a natural, comfortable rhythm established. What you are able to do will evolve as your family changes, your children grow up, and interests change.
There may be seasons of life where you hold Daily Devotional in your bed and it consists of Nursery Rhymes and the Illustrated Scriptures.
There may be years when you sit around the kitchen table with candles lit and hot cocoa for all, while someone plays the hymn on his guitar and everyone else sings.
But in all likeliness, your Daily Devotional will be on the couch. There will be tears over spilled milk on the hymnal. Someone will scribble on the Mona Lisa you meant to study. The toddler will disappear and come back covered in something mysterious. The teenagers will wander off and forget to come back.
You may be asking, "Why bother? I have enough to do without trying to squeeze in one more thing."
"Now ye may suppose that this
is foolishness in me; but
behold I say unto you, that by
small and simple things are
great things brought to pass."
Daily Devotional is the epitome of Small and Simple. If all you do is sing one hymn, recite one verse of scripture, and say a prayer together you will be done in less than 10 minutes. Even if your children are in a school outside of the home, you can find 10 minutes a day for Daily Devotional.
And those 10 minutes a day are 60 hours each year when your children get to see your heart. They get to sing and snuggle with you. They get to pray and read with you. And as you memorize scripture, hymns, and poetry it will change who you are and who your child is.
The voice in the back of their mind will be Nephi saying "I will go and do," or the Savior saying "Love one another." Your children, like Nephi, Alma and Enos, will have been taught by their parents and they will remember the hours that you spent together, delighting in the good, true, and beautiful Savior of the world.
Things to remember:
Make Daily Devotional a tradition that your family looks forward to. Whether you play quiet music, light candles, make hot cocoa (or lemonade) when it's time -or just gather together in the same special spot each day with snuggly blankets: make Daily Devotional a time that your family enjoys. Don't force your children to participate with threats, rather make them sad to miss out on the occasion by providing family time that is delightful.
0, remember, remember! The scriptures are filled with the instructions to remember and retain in remembrance the words, goodness, and mercies of God. Heavenly Father instructs us to write His words on our hearts. On seeklearninghome.com we have a selection of poems and scripture verses to memorize as a family, but there are many other worthwhile things to learn by heart, too. Consider learning The Family: a Proclamation to the World, the new Young Women's theme, famous quotes or speeches, folk songs, nursery rhymes, even times tables!
PRAYER + HYMN
Never let an opportunity to pray with your children pass, and do not forget that when we gather in the Savior's name, He is there in the midst of us.
As your children get older, we recommend learning real hymns, not just Primary songs. You might even want to learn songs that are less well-known among members of the Church of Jesus Christ, like "Be Thou my Vision" or "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing."
Of the first ever day of school held in the Salt Lake Valley, a student named Maria Dilworth wrote that they "sang much, and played more." We love this maxim as a guide in Daily Devotional. Let there be music and JOY in your family. You may be unmusical and bad at singing. This does not matter. Sing anyway. The song of the righteous is prayer to God.
ART + BEAUTY
We can increase our love of those things "virtuous, lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy" by studying and creating art, music or literature. Consider studying a composer, artist, poet or filmmaker each term. Set a goal with your child to improve at molding clay, sewing, sketching, writing, or cooking. Modern prophets have taught that our desire to create is a Godly characteristic, and we must develop it through practice and time, like any other positive trait.
As your children develop their own goals, find opportunities to explore their interests and skills as a family.
Becky + Graceann