Because my ward has many converts, I often have parents in my Sunbeam class. Sunbeams are three and four year olds. Since they are so young, and also to find out what their child is learning and who the teacher is.
If you’d like to visit the Primary, ask the missionaries to help you obtain permission to do so. Some teachers are shy about having visitors in class, and knowing ahead of time that someone is coming can make them feel more secure.
Primary teachers are usually not trained professionals. They are just members and so may not teach perfectly or always know how to handle a problem. They are doing the best they can and learning as they go. You should attend with that in mind, since the teacher may be new and less experienced than some others. You’ll find though, that love and testimony is more important than experience or talent in making Primary successful. Children know when their teacher loves them.
You can prepare for the visit by reading the lesson online. However, the lessons are written for a range of ages, so teachers never teach the entire lesson as written. They choose which materials and methods are best suited to their class. The ages and the experience levels of the children make a difference in how the lesson is taught.
If you want the teacher to handle your child exactly as she will later, you’ll need to let her know. Often teachers are hesitant to control a child’s behavior when the parent is present. However, if you choose to take care of your own child, be certain you do just that and expect her to behave. If the teacher steps in and tells the child what to do, you should be prepared to accept that, since the teacher is responsible for controlling the class. Different teachers have different expectations for levels of behavior. Some are strict and others are relaxed. In general, they want the class to behave well so the lesson can be effectively taught.
What are you watching for as you visit the class? Watch the teacher so you know what her expectations for behavior are. You can reinforce those expectations at home, which will help the teacher. When she only sees a child for a short time, she can’t really teach her to behave, so the parents need to take the lead with that at home.
Pay attention to how she teaches and interacts with the children. Try not to interfere with how the class is being run, but do offer to help if you see a need. Watch your own child to see if she makes friends easily and how she responds to the teacher. Some children are very open to new people in their lives. Others are much more shy. If your child seems shy, consider inviting the teacher to your home during the week. This will allow your child to spend some time getting to know her. You might also want to invite one of the children. If your child has a friend in class, she will be more excited to come each week. Watch to see which child your child is most drawn to or who you’d most like her to have as a friend.
In general, your visit is simply an opportunity to understand what your child is doing while she’s away from you. You’ll know who she is with and what she is learning, so you can then focus on your own classes the next week.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.