Primary children singing.

17 False Beliefs & Traditions About Teaching Primary in LDS Culture

Primary children singing.


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The Passing of the Baton . . . I Mean, Binder

Before smart phones and apps, it was a common practice in the LDS Church. We receive a new calling and get the “binder” (or materials for the calling) from the person who was just released or the auxiliary head. This is especially true if we are teaching children in Primary.

I mean, come on. What training is necessary to teach children?

We adults have more gospel knowledge, we have lived longer, we aren’t going to be evaluated by those in the class, and if we play games the whole time our class will love us . . . right?

All of these thoughts or assumptions are coming from a false premise. Additionally, the ritual of the “passing of the binder” usually leads to doing things the way they’ve always been done. Unfortunately, relying on what’s been done before is a breeding ground for false traditions. The scriptures are replete with individuals and cultures that are held back due to false traditions.

False Traditions Take Away Light & Truth

The Lord rebuked even the early leaders of the church because they had “not taught [their] children light and truth, according to the commandments; and that wicked one hath power.” Now, notice the role that false traditions play in giving the evil one power:

And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers. But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.

We know that the entire Lamanite civilization was held back or damned physically and spiritually because of the false traditions and beliefs that were taught from parent to child.

In light of this, I have compiled a list of 17 false traditions, beliefs, and practices that can be common in LDS culture (not doctrine) when it comes to teaching Primary children. Of course, I realize that not every teacher believes or acts in this way. But having lived in several states, served in many wards, and trained many teachers, I have seen enough to know that many of us struggle with one or more on the list. Each item has the antidote or the doctrinal solution referenced in parentheses found in the scriptures and Teaching, No Greater Call.

I hope that as you prayerfully study these references and many more like them, you’ll focus your teaching at church—and in the home—in the Savior’s way. I apologize for not taking the time to hyperlink every reference out. You can be an agent and go get it for yourself.  🙂

17 False Beliefs & Traditions About Teaching Primary Children in LDS Culture

1. It is important to get through or to the end of the lesson. (3 Nephi 17:2-3; TNGC pp. 5-7)

2. Playing hangman or some other game is an appropriate time-filler when a lesson is poorly prepared and/or taught. (1 Timothy 4:13)

3. The purpose of asking questions is to avoid lecturing to the children. (Matt 16:13-17; Alma 5; TNGC pp. 63-70)

4. The end goal of all Primary teaching is to find teachers who will essentially babysit while parents go to class for real learning. (Mosiah 23:14-18; Alma 32:22-23: D&C 68:25)

5. Children need coercion and bribes in order to get them to be reverent/learn from a lesson. (Cheryl A. Esplin, GC, 4/12; John 6:5-11; D&C 58:26-28)

6. The best way to get participation (and to get the children to love you) is to hand out treats. (John 13:14-6; TNGC pp. 89-95)

7. Noise and chatter is a bad thing; it usually means children don’t want to participate or learn. (Alma 18:14-16; TNGC pp. 63-67)

8. Questions asked by a teacher are more important than questions asked by a child. (Mosiah 3:19; Moroni 10:4; TNGC pp. 68-69)

9. Teaching by the Spirit means that you are “winging it.” (D&C 42:13-14; 100:5-8; TNGC pp.41-48)

10. Because children don’t know or can’t understand doctrine, teachers should spend all of class time discussing applications or stories. (Mosiah 12-16; Alma 32:22-23; D&C 78; TNGC pp. 50-59)

11. Teachers know so much more than children. Because of this, prepping your lesson lesson on Saturday night or even Sunday morning is more than sufficient. (Matthew 25:1-13; Alma 32:22-23; Alma 49:1-9; TNGC)

12. The teacher’s main objective is to impart information and knowledge to the children. (Joshua 1:8; Luke 22:32; 3 Nephi 26:14-16; TNGC pp. 5-7, 98)

13. Lesson manuals, scriptures, and conference talks are a suggested guide and don’t necessarily need to be used in preparing and teaching the actual lesson. (2 Nephi 32:3; Mosiah 18:19-20; TNGC p. 105)

14. Teachers are the only individuals in a Primary classroom who really need to prepare for class. (Mosiah 2:9; Alma 32:6; TNGC p. 61, Ezekiel 33:30-32; Acts 17: 21-22; TNGC pp.77-78)

15. After teaching a lesson, teachers should avoid inviting children to act; the kids won’t remember the anything 5 minutes after class anyway. (Luke 10:37; Acts 2:37-38; TNGC)

16. Because [your ward & community] is considered Zion, most Primary children are “active,” have regular family scripture study, and have very few family problems. (2 Nephi 28:20-21, 24-25; D&C 84:54-57 TNGC pp. 33-36)

17. Teaching the Savior’s Way is a new concept or fad that is designed to improve teaching at Church, but it may not be useful at home. (Deut. 6:6-7; 2 Nephi 4:15; D&C 68: 25-28; TNGC pp. 127-148)

In examining these false traditions, I hope we can cut through the falsehoods with the sword of truth. May our traditions be doctrinally-based and not merely culturally-based. Indeed, the depth of testimony and conversion in ourselves and our children is critically linked to the effectiveness of our teaching. Let us take the time to learn how the Savior would have us teach and be willing to change if necessary.


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6 Replies to “17 False Beliefs & Traditions About Teaching Primary in LDS Culture”

  1. With these false traditions for teaching Primary…. then these so called doctors then come up with a list of helpful ways to improve, help teach primary children.. One thing i love to use to help teach Primary are Church videos. You’d be surprised how many members have never seen a lot of great videos of Church History, and great videos that allow the Holy Ghost be the teacher to help everyone be taught and edified…. how bout them doctors come to Seattle, and places in Washington to see how things are here….so this is an invitation to make your presence known here….????

  2. Wow, my Primary experience sure doesn’t include these myths! We teach doctrine. We have wonderful teachers who love their students. Our children make profound comments and show great understanding and we recognize that in Primary.

  3. This list, for the most part, could apply to the children’s Sunday School in any church. Why brand it as an LDS Primary thing?

    Regarding my own past & present Primary experiences as teacher, president, counselor or secretary in the ward Primary and as stake Primary secretary, I respect the children’s individual personalities, strengths and challenges. My prayer for them is that they will each hold fast to Gospel truths and develop strong testimonies. I let them know that they were chosen to come to earth in very difficult times but that they can be valiant for Jesus by staying close to Him. I also let them know that even though they are very young, they actually have more knowledge of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ than the most learned theologians outside the Church. I LOVE Primary!

  4. Garbage. I’ve been a member all my life, served in primary callings in a student BYU ward, Tooele, Ut, Fenton, MI, and Traverse City, Michigan. I don’t know ANYBODY who had these ridiculous beliefs. Why in the world did the author decide to act like these beliefs run rampant when they absolutely do not. We’re better than this and don’t need to pretend not to be just to make a dramatic point.

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