It states in Doctrine and Covenants 93:40, “I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.” It’s clear, it is our duty to teach our children the true gospel of Jesus Christ! What a humbling responsibility we have as parents, to make sure our children grow up with a solid foundation of the commandments of God and the teachings of Jesus Christ.
It’s essential to start in their early years. Through experience, I’ve learned that you can never start too soon! We have a 2-year-old who loves Jesus and loves going to church. When we say “Time to pray!” He knows to fold his arms, and often in his eagerness shouts “Amen!” before the prayer even starts. You would be amazed how quickly young children grasp the simple foundational principles of the gospel. Here are a few easy things you can throw into your daily routine to start building a foundation of gospel knowledge for your small children.
Grab a few hands-on activities like puzzles or small toys that have a gospel theme. If your little likes to color, a coloring book is a great option! Some great options are the Plan of Salvation and Book of Mormon Coloring books from LDS Bookstore. Even if they don’t stay inside the lines, as they color you can point out different principles or different people from the scriptures. They will eventually recognize and remember them with enough repetition.
I also really like the Plan of Salvation Teaching Kit from LDS Bookstore. It has small wooden pieces perfect for little hands (though you might want to wait until your child has grown out of putting small items in their mouth.) The beautiful engravings on each wooden piece are fun to look at, and they can also feel the engravings with their fingertips or smell the slightly burnt smell from the engraving for a fun sensory experience! While they might not understand what the Plan of Salvation is for a while, repeated exposure to the symbols and terms will help them later on!
By the way, both of these make great sacrament-meeting activities!
My toddler LOVES reading. He loves to look at books so much that he is often pretty rough on them. For that reason, I love some good board books! They hold up much better against little hands who don’t yet know their strength, and there are fantastic options for board books with gospel topics. Here are some great ones about The Book of Mormon and temples. Once again, repetition is your friend here. As you read these with your kiddo over and over, they will start to remember names and events! Despite many temples looking very different from each other, my toddler will now point at many different ones and say “tem-po!” Whenever we saw a picture of the Newport Beach Temple, we reminded him that that’s where momma and daddy got married. Now he will often point at it on his own and say “Momma and Daddy!”
The easiest, yet most impactful way to teach your children the gospel is to lead by example. Keeping in your usual routine and including them in it will teach them more than sitting them down and giving them a lesson. Show them how to pray with you and have them sit with you as you read your scriptures aloud. If you’re making a meal to take to someone in your ward, have them stand on a stool next to you and have them help you cook.
Most importantly, show them Christlike love. Young children especially love to imitate what their parents do, so if you are doing your best to do as Jesus would, in your parenting and just in your life, they will see it and feel it. As a result, they will try to be more like Jesus before even fully understanding the concept.
As a parent, I am constantly wondering if I am doing enough for my children. There are so many ways to parent and there is no one right way. I’m so grateful that I can lean on my Savior and ask Heavenly Father for help in the challenges of raising my babies! I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to teach them the gospel I have grown to believe and love so wholeheartedly. I’ve found that in doing my best to be more like Jesus, I am able to teach my young children the gospel, and I hope these tips I’ve shared are helpful for you too.