Gospel Q&A is a series from LDS Daily that strives to answer important gospel questions from readers. Today, we answer the question, “How do I get my kids excited and engaged in General Conference?”
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Many of us grew up without General Conference being heavily acknowledged or even watched in our homes. Without past experience to guide us, it can feel like reinventing the wheel to try to figure out how to get kids engaged in Conference. Here are five tips to get you started.
1. Help Children Recognize Names and Faces
Have you ever been to a musical when you didn’t know the music beforehand? You may hear fellow patrons singing or humming along or you may watch them light up when their favorite song starts, but you feel a little left out? This is what it can feel like for kids who see one unrecognizable face after another at General Conference.
To combat this, consider printing out this chart of General Authorities and church officers. You may even make flashcards to help kids learn the names to go with the faces. It will be more meaningful to the children if they have some connection or familiarity with the speaker.
2. Get Physically Ready
Printers can sense when you need them most and will shut down if you’re trying to print your bingo cards during Music and the Spoken Word! All kidding aside, having your printables and conference packets printed (free here!) before the Saturday morning session will eliminate unnecessary stress when you’re trying to get settled to watch.
Not only that but do what you can during the week before Conference to clear your Saturday and Sunday to be focused on Conference. Try to get the lawn mowed earlier in the week. See if you can get the grocery shopping, laundry, or other errands and chores off your to-do lists so you can comfortably settle in for uninterrupted time for Conference. Having an unrushed mind will help you (and your kids) receive more out of your Conference experience.
3. Get Spiritually Ready
Along with learning the names and faces of the authorities and officers who speak at General Conference, share quotes with your children from your own favorite speakers. Tell them stories about things you have learned from General Conference. If you or your spouse have served a mission, tell the children what Conference weekends were like on your mission. Let them see and feel your testimony of living prophets and inspired leaders. Let your children catch you reading past Conference talks, and depending on their age, encourage them to read them in preparation as well.
4. Create Traditions That Go with General Conference
Whether it’s cinnamon rolls for conference breakfast, a picnic in the backyard between sessions, or a post-Conference family debriefing session over ice cream cones, find ways to make General Conference weekend unique. Other ideas for making the weekend stand out include homemade pizza between sessions, homemade donuts after Saturday evening’s session, a speaker scavenger hunt (a bag with each of the apostles and the First Presidency’s face on it that children need to find when that speaker’s name is announced), or any number of treats or activities. The point is to make Conference time memorable and different from your other weekends in the year. More ideas can be found here.
5. Prepare a Question Beforehand
It is a teaching strategy to ask learners a question before they read the passage with the answer. This gets the learners searching for the answer instead of passively reading. Similarly, we can ask children (particularly older children) to ponder and write down a question they have during the week before Conference starts. It may be a doctrinal question or just a question seeking direction from the Lord. If they are pondering this question in their hearts while they listen to Conference, they are more likely to receive the answers they need through the strong Spirit that accompanies General Conference.
As is often the case with parenting, “more is caught than taught.” As we experience and share our enthusiasm for listening to the word of the Lord through His prophets and chosen leaders, our children will witness and learn from our example.
More important than any treats, bingo cards, or other traditions is the tradition of coming with a humble heart to hear the word of the Lord.
Disclaimer: While all of my answers will use scriptures and/or words of modern prophets, I do not represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I don’t believe any of my answers are comprehensive. I’m just one person using the gospel I have been blessed with to bring hope, peace, and answers to other seekers of truth.