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The Primary Program

The Gospel Instruction Program for Mormon Children


The Primary Program

The purpose of the Primary organization is to teach children about God’s plan and help them follow the example of Jesus Christ.

Photo courtesy of © 2011 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved
The Primary Program

Korean Primary children sing during a presentation in sacrament meeting.

© 2011 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Primary Program

The Primary organization provides opportunities for young Latter-day Saints to speak in Church meetings.

Photo courtesy of © 2011 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

What Primary is and Who it is For:

An official auxiliary Church program and organization designed for children, ages 18 months to 11 years old.

The Purpose of the Primary Program:

To assist parents in teaching their children the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and learning how to live it.

Where and When Primary Meets:

The weekly meeting is held during the three hour Sunday block of official Church meetings at the ward meetinghouse. Primary meets for one hour and 40 minutes. There is one 10 minute break during that time period. During the rest of the three hour block, children are in Sacrament Meeting with their parents and all other members.

Instructions and Training for Primary:

Administrators of Primary:

The ward Primary President administers the program under the guidance of the:

  • Ward Bishopric
  • Stake Primary Leaders
  • Stake Priesthood Leaders
The ward Primary president is assisted by teachers, music people, scouting and other leaders.

Other Programs That Exist Inside Primary:

  • Nursery: For children ages 18 months to 2 years old.
  • Activity Days/Faith in God: For girls’ ages 8-11 years old.
  • Scouting/Faith in God: For boys’ ages 8-11 years old.

Callings it Includes:

  • Primary President
  • Counselors to the President (usually 2)
  • Primary Secretary
  • Primary Teacher(s)
  • Music Leader(s)
  • Pianist(s)
  • Nursery Leader(s)
  • Activity Days Leader(s)
  • Scouting Leader(s)
Depending on the size of Primary, multiple callings may be held by one person or additional people may serve in the same callings.

Resources Primary Uses:

Most meetinghouses have a room designated for Primary, as well as classrooms intended for children’s use. Manuals for teaching classes, nursery, music, Faith in God programs, Sharing Time are online, as well as available in print.

Brief History of the Program:

Primary began in 1878 in Utah amongst individual congregations. As the practice spread, the Church took more centralized control, eventually offering training, guidelines, manuals and other instruction.

Until 1980, Primary was held during the weekdays. When meetings were consolidated in the three hour Sunday block, Junior Sunday School was discontinued and Primary was given responsibility for all gospel instruction.

Overview of Primary:

Sunday Primary meetings follow one of three agendas.

  • Option 1: The younger children and older children meet for sharing time in two different groups. During the first 50 minutes, one group meets for sharing time while the other group divides into classes for 40 minutes and has a 10-minute break. Then the two groups switch places, with the first group taking a 10-minute break before their classes begin.

  • Option 2: All the children meet together for sharing time first. Then they have a break and go to their classes.

  • Option 3: All the children go to their classes first. Then they have a break and meet together for sharing time.

During sharing time, there is prayer, music and gospel instruction. Primary leaders follow the annual Outline for Sharing Time developed by Church headquarters. This includes the year’s theme, music, art and other instructions on what leaders should present to the children.

Children are assigned a class, based on their age. Lesson manuals for each age are provided by the Church.

Faith in God for Girls and Faith in God for Boys allow children to achieve gospel goals, and increase their gospel knowledge, through an individualized achievement program. These achievements are attained at home and through Activity Days for Girls and Scouting events for boys, usually held no more than twice per month.

Scouting in Primary is dually administered by local leaders and those empowered by the Boy Scouts of America, where the Scouting program exists. The Church does not authorize the Tiger program in the United States or the Beaver program in Canada.

Every year the Primary is responsible for the Children’s Sacrament Meeting Presentation on one Sunday, usually during the last half of the year, using a guide provided by the Church. Children sing songs and present gospel concepts they have learned.

Every year a Priesthood Preview meeting is held for 11 year old boys and their parents. This helps them transition into the Priesthood and a priesthood quorum when they turn 12.

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