Family Night

The best place to teach your children is at a regular Family Night.  One evening a week is reserved for the family to spend together.
 (and nothing else - no classes, sport, meetings, parties or other invitations are allowed to disrupt it. ) 

Instead of just handling problems as they come up, it WORKS so much better to have a time when the children are receptive, because they know family night is fun.  They expect to be taught. You can work on even touchy subjects in a positive way.  You can prevent problems and strengthen character traits.  Give the children high ideals and show them how exciting and great life can be.  Teach them the purpose of life and how they can return to live with Heavenly Father.  IT IS YOUR PLACE TO TEACH THEM AND HAVE THEM CATCH YOUR VISION.

Family Night includes dinner, lesson, games and a treat.

Family Night is not a new thing- our church has been encouraging families to set aside one evening a week for at least 50 years.  I grew up with it in my home and as a mother have found that of all the things I have tried to improve the home, family night is the top performer!

You can set it up so that a few favourite activities are repeated each week. Everyone enjoys and looks forward to them.  These form the basis of family night and the only part you have to come up with each week is the lesson.  Having a pattern to follow helps a good family night happen, even when you have not spent much time on a lesson. Our favourite pattern is:

 Dinner, Song, Prayer, Scripture, Spotlight, Lesson, Game , Treat.

Have a nice dinner - since this is necessary but not really the main event, make something that is easy for you and can be prepared a head of time such as a crock pot meal. 
 
Gather somewhere cosy where you have reduced distractions- no TV, phones, pets- you might be thinking "children" but they need to stay...
 
Start with assigning one child to conduct - they feel very important and they ask someone to give the prayer and another to choose the song.
 
One or more of the family says from memory a favourite scripture - this is the perfect time for your little ones to show off that bedtime scripture they have been saying.
 
One person is chosen for "Spotlight".  They stand up the front and each family member takes a turn telling "One thing I love about you is..."
All ages feel delighted with this kind of attention and it helps brothers and sisters feel love and actually say it.  By the end of this the spotlight child is feeling all soft and sweet and this is a good time to encourage them to say something of their feelings, if they like - such as "I love my family", " I'm grateful for my home", what they believe, or their testimony.
 
Now it's time for your lesson which is very short.  For very young children 5 or 10 minutes is good.  An example might be the scriptures and games from "Brotherly Love" or whatever you are working on at the moment.   It is always successful to tell a story about Jesus from the scriptures then have the children act it out.    Example: lay a bed sheet on the floor and put a cardboard box on top of it.  A  few children climb in the box and act out the story of Jesus calming the wind and the waves.Mark 4: 39 You grab the 4 corners of the sheet and wave it to represent a tempest and at the words, "Peace, be still," pull the sheet flat and smooth.  I really like the "monthly theme" idea where you choose one topic and teach a lesson on it each family night for a month.  By the end of the month you can see real progress.

 

This is followed by a game - they usually want something wild - join in if you can, or just let them vent their energy.

 

The evening ends with a treat.

 

When it works:

It is fun for everyone, even you, and draws the family closer together.  It is valuable teaching time- you have their attention and allegiance.  It is memorable, so you can say, "Remember what we learned at family night?"  and they actually do!

 

When it doesn't work:

You can expect that at least one child will try to sabotage your efforts to improve your home.  We work on the principle, "if you behave well, we all have fun.  If you don't, we have fun without you."  If someone needs to be sent to their room in the middle of your lesson, substitute a game like UNO or Pictionary for the teaching game.  Check if they are ready to join in nicely after about 10 minutes.  If not, have treats without them and continue your lesson next week.  After two or three times of missing out on the treats and games of family night, you can look forward to months of lovely behaviour and attention while you teach them important things.

 

A big part of a successful family night is for it to be fun.  You can't just pretend it is and get away with it.   Try a few  family nights where you just play or go somewhere and have a treat so they get the idea.  Then slowly add in what you think will work and build up to the perfect family night you have pictured where they all sit still and drink in your every word.  I'm telling you right now those events will be few and far between.  The purpose is to enjoy each other's company.  I think it's best to keep it simple at first so that you are not disappointed and therefore cross when your lesson doesn't come off.  Or to disguise your lesson as a game.  When you find an activity or game they enjoy- repeat it often!

There are alot of family Home Evening sites to gather ideas from eg. ldssplash.com 

Just type in Family Home Evening and look around till you find something that sounds fun.

-Lisa

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