Thursday, January 13, 2011

10 Commandments to Having Successful Family Home Evenings

by Lara Goold

1.  Thou shalt be consistent.  Consistency, consistency, consistency!    This, by far, is the most important thing you can do to make family home evening successful.  By making it a priority and making it happen each and every week, you will speak volumes about the importance of the gospel in your life.  When you are consistent you make it a part of your family identity to hold family home evening every week.

2.  Thou shalt be flexible.  Family home evenings don’t always have to be the same.  When life is crazy, don’t let it get swept under the rug in the guise of being “too busy”…modify it to make it work for your family.  Hold it on Sunday nights if Mondays are filled with children’s activities.  Give a lesson in the car if you’re running to and fro.  Go around the family and have each person share what they learned about in church, expounding where you feel inspired.   Discuss a scripture.  Open and close with a prayer and call it family home evening. 
3.  Thou shalt be prepared.  Well-prepared lessons are going to make having family home evening easier, however if you haven’t had time to prepare do NOT use it as an excuse to skip it.  If you’re telling a story as part of the lesson, read the story in advance and be ready to RETELL it rather than read it.  It’ll make it easier for them to listen and not take up as much time.    Being prepared also gives you a chance to choose the focus of the topic you’re teaching, as well as giving you time to think of real-life stories you can share. 

4.  Thou shalt make your Family Home Evenings a safe haven.  Don’t EVER focus your lesson on one child or one child’s behavioral issue.   This will only lead to embarrassment and resentment, not exactly the tools for effective teaching.  If there is a problem that needs to be discussed, then relate it to a gospel topic and keep it positive.  If an individual’s behavior really needs to be discussed in specific, then it should be as a private parent-child conversation, NOT as a family.  

5.  Thou shalt keep it simple.  Don’t expect 45-minute long lessons where everyone is sitting still on the couch.  This pretty much never happens at our house (or in Elder Bednar’s house either).  Have a simple routine that is the same from week-to-week (prayer, songs, lesson, business, treats, activity, prayer), and go with it.   Lessons that are 5-10 minutes long (or even shorter if the kids are younger) can be even more effective than a longer lesson where the children may start to tune out after a while. 

6.  Thou shalt make Family Home Evening fun.   You want family home evening to be something that they look forward to each week, and finding ways to liven things up will add an element of excitement and anticipation.  Use visual aids, pictures, object lessons, stories (particularly from your own life), and games, which of course, is easier if you have prepared in advance.  If nothing else, make sure there is a fun treat waiting for them at the end!

7.  Thou shalt go-with-the-flow.  If the lesson takes a different direction than you expect, go with it!  Some of our best lessons have ended up on completely different topics that we had started with. 

8.  Thou shalt involve everyone in the family as much as possible.  Even very small children can hold up pictures, repeat a scripture, pass out treats, and answer very simple questions.  Older children (school age and older) can teach the lesson, look up scriptures, participate in discussions (sometimes with prodding), make the treats, etc.   Children will enjoy participating in family evenings more when they know that they play an important part. 
9.  Thou shalt make the focus of Family Home Evening learning the gospel together as a family.  Sporting events or concerts can be fun for a family home evening, once in a while, but the focus of family home evening should be about learning the gospel and strengthening family ties.  We’ve been taught that FHE should be a place where we can pray, listen or sing sacred music, study the scriptures, work together, serve others, focus on developing obedience and self-discipline, place a high priority on building loyalty within the family, build self-worth, and develop traditions.

10.   Thou shalt relate the lessons to everyday life.  A story from your own life or that of a relative, will be all the more meaningful to your children as you teach them about important aspects of the gospel.  In addition, a lesson on a vague gospel topic such as faith or agency, will stick with them more if they know what faith or agency (or whatever topic) means to them on an individual basis.  How can they have faith?  What should they do if their faith is wavering?  


Jocelyn Christensen said...

I love this!

Anonymous said...

I love! Here I always find a lot of helpful information for myself. Thanks you for your work.
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Best regards

Elise and Dan said...

I love these 10 commandments! And, I love your site. Thank you so much for sharing your hard work and creativity! I've used about 10 of your lessons and they have all been perfect for our family. THANK YOU! I hope you can post even more some day.