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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Family Home Evening - Tips and Tricks

(DISCLAIMER: Though Heather and I are both LDS, we realize that not all of our readers are. When it comes to Family Home Evening, please don't feel like this doesn't apply to you. Even if your church doesn't advocate something like this, you still might want to consider instituting your own Family Night. Play games, have ice cream, teach your children about the teachings of your church - just do something that will bring your family closer together!!)

Heather and I are both Latter Day Saints (aka LDS or Mormons) and one thing that our church encourages is to hold Family Home Evenings - a time when our families can get together and learn gospel principles in our home and have fun as a family. In an interview with the Boston Globe, President Gordon B. Hinckley said the following:
“We have a family home evening program once a week [Monday night] across the Church in which parents sit down with their children. They study the scriptures. They talk about family problems. They plan family activities and things of that kind. I don’t hesitate to say if every family in the world practiced that one thing, you’d see a very great difference in the solidarity of the families of the world” (interview, Boston Globe, 14 Aug. 2000). (Taken from this article)
Our church has asked that Monday nights be set aside for Family Home Evening, however I know many families aren't able to do it on Mondays. Instead they do it on Sunday nights or another time when all the family can gather together. No matter what day we hold it, the important thing is that we do it! The church just tries to make Monday's the easiest for us by not holding any church activities or meetings on Monday night.

It can be hard to hold family home evening when you have a houseful of bedlamites - as Jeffery R. Holland to affectionately referred to them. Some FHE's may go better than others. Not every FHE has to be filled with promptings of the spirit and happy, joyful smiles. The important thing is to have them regularly. We know that one big obstacle is coming up with FHE ideas each and every week. I'd like to say that we'll be able to post a FHE idea every week, but please know that we're also human and are working on consistency too!

We wanted to share some tips and tricks to holding successful Family Home Evenings:
  • Make FHE's low key. Don't feel like everyone has to feel the spirit, like you should always have a treat, and prayers, and everything else you expect FHE to be. Especially if you're just getting started! Don't overwhelm yourself, otherwise you're more likely to give up. Start with a family activity (like a board game), add some prayer, a simple thought, and you're done!
  • Involve your family - especially if you have older children! Younger children can say prayers, help find a picture for the lesson, or help make treats. Older children can start to help plan and/or give the lesson, make treats on their own, etc.
  • Use FHE to discuss upcoming family events, family business, etc. You're all together anyway, so why not?
  • Pick a time when everyone is most likely to be happy. I think most families do FHE after dinner, but if after dinner is too rushed, then try for a Sunday afternoon or even for a short lesson during dinner. Your children won't remember when you did FHE, just that you held it.
  • Turn off everything else! Turn off cell phones, the TV, the computer - anything that can be a distraction.
  • Use music, especially Primary songs, to teach gospel principles.
  • Make some kind of FHE tracker to keep track of who does what. It can be as simple or as fancy as you want. Move the names each week and make sure everyone knows what they're responsible for. Something as fancy as this:

You can buy these kinds of boards (anywhere especially in Utah or Idaho) or make your own!
Or a something simple like this printable wheel chart found here:

  • Make it fun!!! Keep the youngins entertained by asking questions, playing games, etc.
  • Make it age appropriate. Don't try and get your two year old to sit and listen to a 20 minute lesson about how they should be studying the scriptures everyday. It's futile. And you'll all just get frustrated. Sure, you can teach about studying the scriptures, but when it comes to the younger ones, keep it simple and include lots of pictures. And the reverse of that - don't "dumb down" the lessons too much if you have older kids. They know a lot more than we think they do. You know your kids. Finding a good balance is necessary if you have older and younger children. Just do your best.

Besides the ideas you can find here, there are lots of other resources out there to help you plan successful Family Home Evenings.
  • Families in Zion offers free FHE lessons in PDF form that you can print. These lessons give you a complete list of everything you need to complete the lesson, a song to sing, an activity idea, plus different ways to teach the lessons.
  • has a new section to their website specifically for FHE help and resources. You can even read about memorable FHE's that other members have submitted.
  • A Year of FHE is a blog dedicated to coming up with a FHE lesson each week. This blog also provides song suggestions, activity ideas, lessons, and pictures.
  • FHE Lessons is another website dedicated to providing free weekly FHE lessons.
A few other lesson resources that I like are the Nursery Manual (available at the Distribution Center for about $5), The Preach My Gospel Book (also available at the Distribution Center - not sure on price), and the Book of Mormon Reader (at Deseret Book for about $10). The Nursery Manual and Book of Mormon Reader are espcially helpful with young children who enjoy pictures and stories and such.

Also, if you're having trouble coming up with FHE ideas, consider starting a FHE Lesson Exchange with other ladies you know. Get together once a month with a few ladies to exchange FHE lesson plans. We do the same thing with cookies, recipes, etc. So why not lesson plans? Come up with one of your own, then print out enough for each lady in your group. When you go to the exchange, you give the other ladies their copy of your lesson and they give you a copy of the lesson you came up with. Automatic lesson plans for however many weeks you have ladies. Make sense?

There are a ton of places out there on the web that will provide you with ideas and resources to help you have successful Family Home Evenings. Just do a quick google search and you'll find many, many options to sort through. Don't get overwhelmed, though. Pick one or two and stick with those for a while. Also, consider printing out the ideas (if you have access to a printer) and putting the ideas in the binder. After a year or so, you can start recycling old lessons. You'll be familiar with the lessons and can build upon what you've already taught.

Do you have any tips or resources that you love when it comes to FHE? Please feel free to share!

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