It’s no surprise to anyone who has visited this blog before that I love General Conference. I know many of you do, too. To any readers who might not be familiar with General Conference or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, go here or here to learn more about both. Today I wanted to share a few ideas of how we can help our children appreciate and look forward to General Conference.
- Start now to express your excitement for conference. Today, on two different occasions in the car, I said, “Only 5 more days until General Conference. I’m so excited!” Use the opportunity to bear brief testimony of living prophets and how their messages have made a difference in your life.
- As you say family and meal prayers, remind your children to pray for the prophet and apostles as they prepare for their conference talks. We can ask Heavenly Father to help them be inspired as they speak and to help us be inspired as we listen.
- Teach a family home evening (or random, informal lesson) this week about following the prophet or some other aspect of General Conference preparation. Tonight, my 8-year-old, Grant, is teaching our lesson based on Elder Holland’s recent conference talk: An Ensign to the Nations. I imagine he’ll find some quotes he likes, share them, and bear testimony. Then he’s going to assign each person to look through the conference Ensign and try to find talks about certain topics. I’m hoping I can contribute to the conversation and FHE in a way that makes it feel a little bit like a “General Conference pep rally.” But I’m geeky like that. Feel free to temper it to fit your own personality.
- Schedule the days of conference to block out plenty of time to watch the sessions. Keep your calendar clear and relish the family time. It’s helpful to me to have my menu all planned out for those two days so that I have all the necessary ingredients on hand and pre-prepared as much as possible. I like to have a picnic lunch packed ahead of time (especially when I was in central time zone and conference fell right in the middle of lunch time), as well as ziploc bags or cups full of snack items that I can quickly grab and distribute.
- I like to go through lots of links with General Conference and other gospel-related resources, print out piles and piles of coloring sheets and puzzles and mazes and fill-in-the-blank worksheets and bingo cards, and then create a little notebook or binder for each of my children. Sometimes I’ve made a big binder and let them just read through it and do the activities at their leisure, and other times I’ve replenished it with new items for each session. At the bottom of this post, I’ve listed lots of sites with pre-made general conference packets for children, as well as other supplemental materials. If you know of any other great resources, please share a link in the comments below.
- Create during-conference activities that help and encourage children to pay attention. They can color each speaker’s tie. They can put stickers on the chart of general authorities when they see them speak. (The photo chart is in the centerfold of the conference edition of the Ensign.) They can play a bingo game where they put stickers or small snacks on the board each time they hear a gospel-word that is on their card. (Scan through those links below and you’ll find several versions of bingo cards, with words or pictures.) You can set a few “keywords” for each session– like “temple,” “prophet,” and “atonement” — and each time they hear that word, they can grab a treat from a treat bowl. You can change it up each session, both the words and the snacks. A lot of these ideas can be found pre-made in the links below, so don’t feel like you have to come up with it all on your own.
A word to the wise: Don’t feel overwhelmed or obligated by this long list of ideas. These are things I’ve added to our traditions little-by-little over time, and it’s been fun for me and my family. Just do something that sounds fun and doable to you and fits your family. Any one suggestion can help make the experience a little more meaningful. Remember also that you need to sit and listen to conference as much as you can. This is hard to do if you’ve become the “cruise director” for the day and spend all your time handing out snacks and crayons. Prepare what you can ahead of time, give the children some things that can keep them busy and involved, and then sit back and listen as much as you possibly can. To prove to you that I am human in this area, I give you my Facebook status from yesterday:
I recorded the general Relief Society broadcast last night and I tried to watch it today. I had to hit pause in the middle of the talk about Charity to go upstairs and yell at my children. I know, I have some work to do.
If you have any questions or comments to add about preparing children for general conference, speak up in the comment thread below. I’d be happy to respond with more specifics.
Some files and packets from past conferences that you’re welcome to download: