When my husband and I were first married I received a call from our Bishop asking to meet with us. When we went to our interview we found out it was for me, oh no!
He told me that they had a calling for me. They felt that this particular calling would help me prepare for things in my life….
This is what I was thinking: ‘Oh NO! They’re preparing me for kids…they’re putting me in Nursery! NOOOO!!!’
Yep, that is what I was thinking.
It wasn’t a nursery calling, but what if it had been? I think too many people look at Nursery as I did, as 2 hours of babysitting, crying babies, and chaos!
But Nursery is not that at all.
When I was called into the Primary Presidency I was put over Nursery. So I decided to research and find all that I could about Nursery and what is supposed to happen during class. I put together a folder for each of my Nursery leaders that included the lesson schedule, substitutes, ideas, websites, etc.
As I put together my folders I realized that Nursery might not be as bad as everyone thinks it is.
“Nursery….it can be a very challenging calling in the Church. But it can also be one of the most fulfilling. You don’t have to be the children’s babysitter; instead you can be a loving teacher who helps them learn gospel principles in doses that their short attention spans can handle.”
Let’s have a good attitude about Nursery. This is the children’s first experience with Primary, let’s try to make it enjoyable. Let them see and feel how much you love your calling and the children. Don’t make them feel like they’re an inconvenience.
 I receive emails from LDS Living, and this morning the email I received happened to be on Nursery. I loved it, so I thought I would share it with all of you.
  
Photo From LDS Living
 How-To Teach {Not Babysit} Nursery
 Here are a few different ways to make your Nursery into more than just a room filled with scattered toys and toddlers with cookie crumbs in their hair. It may take some extra thought and preparation, but the benefits will far outweigh the costs.
1. Teach them Spirituality
Teaching two-year-olds the gospel may be incredibly challenging, but it’s not impossible. Their little spirits are very perceptive, especially to visual and audial reminders. Having pictures of Jesus Christ around the room will help you teach them about who He is and who He wants us to become. Children will be able to see His face and know that He always watches over them. When a child misbehaves, we can remind him or her that Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to be obedient.
Two-year olds are not known for their reverence, but you can help them improve this trait by teaching them that reverence is important to the Lord. Designating one song to be the “reverent song” and teaching the children to be respectful and quiet when they hear it will help them and you feel the Spirit more. Gradually, the children will recognize the song and model its expected behavior.
2. Teach them Kindness
Sometimes, one of the most difficult challenges that toddlers struggle with can be sharing. While some children naturally enjoy sharing their toys with others, more often than not, those little hands just want to cling to their precious toys. This creates a problem in nursery since no toys really belong to any one child but to the nursery.
Show them how to share by sharing with them yourself. If you have a bowl of apple slices for a snack, share them with the children and call attention to your actions so they will see your good example. When you share, show the children how you say “please” and “thank you,” and encourage them to do the same. If children begin to bicker over a toy, have a timer on hand to time a turn with the object for each child.
3. Teach them Creativity
Toddlers’ minds are rapidly growing as they mature and develop. As their teacher, you can help them harness and cultivate their creativity with your lessons and games. Teach them games with balloons, play dough, blocks, bubbles, clothespins—the possibilities are endless. Just make sure that each game is safe enough for toddlers.
Have a few extra games on hand that can be accessed during lag time. Teaching them a cute dance that they can sing and dance together will help them have fun together. Help them learn to draw or color pictures that they can later show their parents. Though this is a common activity, you can always spruce it up by making pictures with a little glue and cotton balls, popcorn, puffed rice, feathers, or whatever else. Having the pictures depict what they learned in the lesson will help them remember the principle throughout the week.
4. Teach them Order
Children may feel more secure in places that follow a routine and an orderly pattern. A bulletin board with the names and photos of each child will help them feel important and make friends faster. Different areas of the room can be designated for specific activities, such as the reading rug or coloring corner. It may be difficult at first for them to understand that one activity belongs in a specific area, but they will soon learn and (hopefully) obey.
Trying to keep the room clean can be rough after some wild toddlers have torn their way through a game closet. At the end of class, show the children that it’s important to keep the church neat because it’s the house of the Lord. Creating a “clean-up song” and teaching it to them before the actual clean-up time may help them be more cooperative when class winds down. The children will then be more willing to clean as they sing together at the same time.
    From LDSLiving.com
Some Ideas for Nursery from Little LDS Ideas:
·         When I was over Nursery we decided to call 2 sets of Nursery Leaders. We had one in charge of the 2nd hour and another set for the 3rd hour.
I’ve had several leaders tell me that they really like this set-up. They liked that they could still attend one adult class instead of being in Nursery the entire 2 hours.
·         Nursery Leaders were only called for 6 months (1 year at the most). Yes, at times it was hard to find new leaders, but we made it work. You don’t want your teachers to get ‘burnt out’.
·         We had a schedule posted in the Nursery with Snack Time, Play Time, Lesson, Singing, etc. This helped to have structure. 
You don’t want the children to just play with the toys the entire time. When there’s no structure….there’s CHAOS!
·         Give your leaders a folder of ideas. My folder included activity ideas, singing ideas, lesson ideas, and websites that had some great Nursery ideas. It also included some encouraging messages for them to read.
·         Remember your Nursery Leaders! Ask them often how they’re doing and thank them for their hard work.
What are some things that work for you in your Nursery class?
Share your ideas!
I have some cute bookmarks that you can print out and give to your Nursery Leaders too. I’ll post those soon. 🙂
Have a great day!

sheena

13 thoughts on “{How-To} Teach (Not Babysit) Nursery: A How-To from LDS Living

  1. Kati McKinney

    Thanks for this! I was just recently called to be in the nursery. I just graduated high school and this is my first calling out of young womens. This is a great help and great advice!

    Reply

  2. Anonymous

    What if you only have on child who is just barely 18 months? We live in a married ward at BYUI and we only have one child. We go on walk through the building to find the Jesus pictures but getting him to sit down and listen to a lesson is quite hard.

    Reply

    1. Nicolas Connault

      I’ve also just been called as a Nursery leader with my wife, and we have 10 children attending each week. Personally I feel it’s unrealistic to expect an 18-month-old to sit down to “listen” to anything, unless they’re already used to that sort of thing. Besides, they don’t usually have the cognitive ability to understand a structured lesson or even the most basic gospel principles.

      Rather, their learning patterns are all based on sensory experience and play. It’s very challenging for us grown-ups to think of ways to present a gospel principle in such a way, but we need to remember that these little ones don’t have to grasp them all at once. For example, last week’s lesson was “I know my Heavenly Father loves me”. Most 18-month-olds have no concept of a Heavenly Father, and don’t even fully grasp the idea that other people have their own thoughts and feelings. How can I use this theme in my “lesson time” with 18-month-olds?

      I showed them a photo of a family, and explained that there was daddy, there as mummy, and there was a little baby. I asked them if they had a mummy and daddy too. I explained that their mummy and daddy loves them (hopefully!), and we sang the first few lines of “I am a child of God”. Then we looked at a picture of Jesus surrounded with little children, and briefly talked about how Jesus loves us just like our mummy and daddy loves us. It took all of 5 minutes, but that was enough.

      I must say that of all the callings I’ve had (and I’ve had many!), I feel the need for personal revelation for this calling more than for any other. I takes a lot of preparation and effort, and so far I feel I have a long way to go 🙂

      Reply

    2. Nicolas Connault

      I’ve also just been called as a Nursery leader with my wife, and we have 10 children attending each week. Personally I feel it’s unrealistic to expect an 18-month-old to sit down to “listen” to anything, unless they’re already used to that sort of thing. Besides, they don’t usually have the cognitive ability to understand a structured lesson or even the most basic gospel principles.

      Rather, their learning patterns are all based on sensory experience and play. It’s very challenging for us grown-ups to think of ways to present a gospel principle in such a way, but we need to remember that these little ones don’t have to grasp them all at once. For example, last week’s lesson was “I know my Heavenly Father loves me”. Most 18-month-olds have no concept of a Heavenly Father, and don’t even fully grasp the idea that other people have their own thoughts and feelings. How can I use this theme in my “lesson time” with 18-month-olds?

      I showed them a photo of a family, and explained that there was daddy, there as mummy, and there was a little baby. I asked them if they had a mummy and daddy too. I explained that their mummy and daddy loves them (hopefully!), and we sang the first few lines of “I am a child of God”. Then we looked at a picture of Jesus surrounded with little children, and briefly talked about how Jesus loves us just like our mummy and daddy loves us. It took all of 5 minutes, but that was enough.

      I must say that of all the callings I’ve had (and I’ve had many!), I feel the need for personal revelation for this calling more than for any other. I takes a lot of preparation and effort, and so far I feel I have a long way to go 🙂

      Reply

  3. Darby Harris

    One of the ways we got our nursery class to sit and “listen” to our lessons was by teaching during snack time. Full mouths are quiet mouths! The kids didn’t have a structured nursery before we came in, but with a little persistence, they eventually knew to recognize what we were doing and knew that snack time was when we talked about Jesus. The lessons were usually only a few minutes long, but we would bring the principles taught back up in the games we played later, and by choosing appropriate songs (mixed in with fun ones, of course) during our “singing time.” It worked rather well, I think!

    Reply

  4. Darby Harris

    One of the ways we got our nursery class to sit and “listen” to our lessons was by teaching during snack time. Full mouths are quiet mouths! The kids didn’t have a structured nursery before we came in, but with a little persistence, they eventually knew to recognize what we were doing and knew that snack time was when we talked about Jesus. The lessons were usually only a few minutes long, but we would bring the principles taught back up in the games we played later, and by choosing appropriate songs (mixed in with fun ones, of course) during our “singing time.” It worked rather well, I think!

    Reply

  5. Jacinda

    This is a very helpful article. I wonder if you would be willing to share the contents of your Nursery Leader Folder? There are so many ideas online, it’s hard to know where to start. I’m the primary counselor over nursery, and I’d like our nursery team to be as prepared/supported as possible. I’d really appreciate a copy of what you use if that’s possible. digikiwichick@gmail.com. Thanks.

    Reply

  6. Merianne Smith

    I also wonder if you would be willing to share the contents of your Nursery Leader Folder. I was called to be in Nursery for the 5th time last summer. Each time I have been in Nursery I have been there for 3-4 years or until we moved. Sad to say, I’ve only been in one ward that properly supported their Nursery and the Nursery Leaders. Most of the time we get forgotten and left out and we feel like we’re in outer darkness, cut off from everyone else. I try to keep upbeat about all of the difficulties (like getting adults to come help in the Nursery, a $5 monthly budget for snacks, etc.) but I have several serious health challenges and the “burn out” has set in early this time – before the one year mark (I think mostly because last year’s Nursery was huge and overly chaotic- no order or rules to it at all when they put me in and it took a LOT of effort to bring it into alignment with what it should be from what it was AND because we have the 1-4pm time slot…naptime for the littles and they get cranky easily). We’ve split the Nursery up into older and younger groups and things have been much calmer. I’m the younger Nursery leader. I split up the lesson into 1-2 minute “chunks” of lesson, breaking things down to as simplistic as possible and I use as many pictures as I can that pertain to the lesson ( I tape them up after we talk about what is in the picture so they can still look at it). We start the lesson about 5 minutes into snack time and intersperse songs, lesson tidbits, and snacks. As the year progresses, we make individual “parts” of the Lesson, Singing, and Snack more distinct (so snack time is just snack time, a lesson is taught right after snacks, and then singing time is right after that) so that by the time we get to the end of the year each child can recognize when it is time to have fun and when it is time to be reverent and listen. This really helps them be able to participate better as they progress. I’d love to get some better ideas for activities for the tiny ones and help on overcoming burn-out amid stiff challenges. Thanks!

    Reply

    1. littleldsideas Post author

      Oh Merianne…I’m so sorry to hear the difficulties you’ve had. Nursery is a special place, but 3-4 years!?! We try to rotate our leaders every 6 months so no one gets burned out. I would suggest talking to the leaders about being released after so long. You could tell them that you have been in nursery in many previous wards. You deserve some Relief Society time. 🙂
      I have some nursery ideas on my to-do blog list. Hopefully I will get them up soon. Until then…keep doing what you’re doing. You sound like an amazing leader. Thanks for stopping by and for the comment.

      Reply

  7. Virginia

    We have 5 new children in nursery. All are about 18 months old. We are just working on getting the children to not cry the whole time. I am fine with the crying except it is contagious. The happy ones start crying when one starts. We are trying to help them feel safe and comfortable. I started in the nursery last year with all 3 year olds. I love nursery, I just need some ideas to help the children not be scared so we can progress as a class.

    Reply

    1. littleldsideas Post author

      Thanks for the comment, Virginia. Crying is contagious! Our Nursery leaders try to have an activity that the children like right when they come in. They usually have bubbles or play-doh, but I know each child is different. Have you tried having music playing as they come in? I also have read where the nursery leaders went and visited the children at home so they go to know them a little better. If I hear any ideas, I’ll be sure to pass them on. 🙂

      Reply

      1. Cathy

        I’ve definitely seen the miracle work of bubbles, too! You could try talking to your presidency about doing a Nursery party. With so many new little bodies, it might be helpful to have a sort of “play date” with the kids and parents outside of the church meeting drop-off. Let them get to know all the leaders and kids with their parents there. I know my son doesn’t do well with new grown-ups, he takes a good while to warmup. Having a chance to play and be around the leaders and see mom and dad interact and like the leaders too, can go a long way. Just a thought.

        Reply

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