If you are like me, you end September like this every year: you get a letter or handout from the Primary presidency telling you the songs your kids were supposed to have learned since the beginning of the year, and please make sure your kids are ready to sing them. You fly into a frenzy because, while you keep meaning to check on their progress, you also meant to be translated and, well, neither one managed to happen.
My daughter is five, and though if you met her, you would never believe she was shy (she regularly hugs strangers no matter what I say or do), when you put her in front of a ward full of people staring, she forgets she knows how to talk, much less scream. Our best cure has always been to prepare her as best possible, pray with her, and smile a lot from the audience.
This year, I decided to get a leg up on the preparation. During last year’s frenzy, I learned that the church lists the program songs online, and that they are downloadable. This year, I’m going to take the same steps I took in September in January, helping both my CTR daughter and my Sunbeam son. And if last year was any indication, my nursery-aged child will also most likely learn most of the songs.
- First, I downloaded the songs off the website and loaded them onto my computer. You can do this quite easily by right clicking on the MP3 icon under ‘words and music’ and select ‘Save Target As’ (the third one down from the top). I saved all of my Primary songs into a specific folder inventively titled ‘2007 Primary Program Songs’.
- Next, I used our CD burner to create a CD of songs. If you are without this resource, see if you can find a friend, neighbor, coworker, or fellow parent in the ward who can burn a CD for you.
- If you don’t have access to a CD burner, you can use the assembled list to know what the necessary songs are. If you have the Primary hymns, you can either listen to them one at a time, or create a cassette tape of the necessary songs. If you don’t have access to them, you can gather your kids around the computer and have them listen to your download.
- My daughter loves to read, so my next step was to create a ‘hymnal’ for her. I printed out the words to every song on the CD and stapled them together. Last year, both of my sons (then in nursery) wanted a book as well, though neither of them could read. This helped my daughter figure out how songs were organized on a page, something she has struggled with despite the many times I’ve used my finger to show the way. By the way, I printed out a book for me so I could help them with the songs I don’t know – as a convert, that’s most of them!
- Between the Friend magazine telling us the song of the month and Miriam’s monthly Primary blog posts, you can spend each month working on the same song the Primary presidency is trying to teach your child. Read over the words together. I found the ‘fill-in-the-blank’ method most helpful with my kids; I’d start off singing all of a line but the last word, and they would love to finish it up. I’d leave off more and more until they finally figured it out. This may not work for your kids; your ward or branch library probably has a copy of ‘teaching songs to children’ or a similarly titled video that may prove to help you.
- Listen to the CD. Listen to it all the time. Play it in the car, and encourage your kids to sing with it. Listen to it on Sunday while getting ready for church. Listen to it whenever you usually listen to the radio. Pretty soon, your kids will learn the songs.
On a side note, I noticed that this year, the church listed the songs included for Sharing Time. When I burned the CD last year, there was plenty of extra room. I added the songs without the music, thinking the kids would enjoy the opportunity to practice singing without prompting. They didn’t (although yours might). This year, after I’ve burned the program songs first, I plan to include some if not all of the sharing time songs on the CD.
If you are in the Primary Presidency, consider burning a copy of the CD for the kids in your ward. My mother-in-law serves as a pianist in Primary and brought us our first copy of a CD two years ago. Her Primary distributes them at the beginning of the year. The cost of a CD is relatively low, and if the parents encourage the kids to listen to the, you will be amazed at the results of your Primary program.
This all sounds terribly involved, but it really isn’t. If you take the opportunity to create the CD now, the kids will learn it even if you don’t feed them the words. Both my CTR daughter and my then-nursery aged son managed to learn all of the verses to “Follow the Prophet” – and so did I!