- What is Family Home Evening?
- What's in it for me?
- How can I adapt FHE for small children?
- What are FHE Lesson Exchange Groups?
- FHE articles and resources
Family home evening is a special time set aside each week that brings family members together and strengthens their love for each other, helps them draw closer to Heavenly Father, and encourages them to live righteously. (see also Prophets' statements on FHE below)
In 1915 President Joseph F. Smith and his counselors in the First Presidency [of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] began a Church-wide effort to strengthen the family. They called on parents in the Church to gather their children once each week for a "Home Evening." Families were to take time to pray and sing together, read the scriptures, teach the gospel to one another, and participate in other activities that would build family unity.
In 1970 President Joseph Fielding Smith joined with his counselors in the First Presidency to designate Monday night as the time for family home evening. Since that announcement, the Church has kept Monday evenings free from Church activities so families can have this time together.
Latter-day prophets continue to urge Church members to give highest priority to family home evening. They have promised that our dedication to this program will help protect our families against the evils of our time and will bring us abundant joy now and throughout the eternities.
Although family home evening should begin and end with prayer, it is not intended to be a formal class. In a statement regarding family home evening in 1915, the First Presidency said that "formality and stiffness should be studiously avoided, and all the family should participate in the exercises." (http://lds.org/hf/display/0,16783,4224-1,00.html)
"If the Saints obey this counsel [to hold regular family home evenings],
we promise that great blessings will result. Love
at home and obedience to parents will increase. Faith will be developed in the hearts
of the youth of Israel, and they will gain power to combat the evil influence and
temptations which beset them."
(First Presidency letter, 27 April 1915 - Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, Charles W. Penrose, emphasis added)
"Family home evening is for everyone. It is for families with parents and children,
for families with just one parent, and for parents who have no children at home. It is
for home evening groups of single adults and for those who live alone or with
roommates... Regular participation in family home evening will develop increased
personal worth, family unity, love for our fellow men, and trust in our Father in heaven."
(Family Home Evening, 1976 - Spencer W. Kimball, N. Eldon Tanner, and Marion G. Romney, emphasis added)
"Our spiritual progress, individually and as a Church, will largely be determined by
how faithfully we live the gospel in our homes... Fathers should lead their families in
holding meaningful family home evenings. Such experiences will build family unity and
influence each person toward increased righteousness and happiness."
(Family Home Evening, 1980 - Spencer W. Kimball, N. Eldon Tanner, and Marion G. Romney, emphasis added)
"Family home evenings should be scheduled once a week as a time for discussions of
gospel principles, recreation, work projects, skits, songs around the piano, games,
special refreshments, and family prayers. Like iron links in a chain, this practice
will bind a family together, in love, pride, tradition, strength, and loyalty."
(Salvation; A Family Affair, Ensign, July 1992, p. 4 - President Ezra Taft Benson, emphasis added)
"We call upon parents to devote their best efforts to the teaching and rearing of
their children in gospel principles which will keep them close to the Church. The home
is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place or
fulfill its essential functions in carrying forward this God-given responsibility. We
counsel parents and children to give highest priority to family prayer, family home
evening, gospel study and instruction, and wholesome family activities."
(First Presidency letter, 11 February 1999 - Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson, and James E. Faust, emphasis added)
These above statements are as quoted at LDS.org.
I have young children, and planning family home evenings that can involve them is often difficult. The following tips were condensed from the FHE manual:
- Don't wait until school age to begin holding Family Home Evenings (This is so true: my siblings and I begged to have FHE as older children, but when my parents actually tried to hold it, we complained and whined and acted out so badly about missing our favorite tv shows, that our parents were literally forced to give it up. On the other hand, we've been doing FHE in our home since our oldest was very small--now he won't let us forget to have it! -Jenny)
- Let smaller children help prepare for FHE (see my fhe planners page)
- Give each child a turn to say prayers, choose songs, choose games, pick refreshments, and even give part of the lesson
- Use visual aids such as puppets, object lessons, or flannel board figures as much as possible (inexpensive Visual Aid cutouts are available from LDS Church Distribution)
- Keep lessons SHORT! If you have both small children and teenagers, consider breaking the lesson into short, varied sections, remembering the needs of older children.
- Don't worry if games last longer than your gospel lesson! Children can learn alot in a short time, and you're establishing the habit of spending time weekly as a family. (Talk about a relief! and Yes, this is straight from the Church! Keep in mind that a lesson in Nursery class (Primary 1) is just 10 minutes long with 15 minutes for activity and 10 minutes for a snack.)
The following tips on FHE for smaller children are from me:
- The illustrated stories from Book of Mormon Stories, New Testament Stories, Old Testament Stories, and Church History Stories are a great way to keep children interested in a lesson.
- Talk to your child's Nursery teacher to find out what the topic was in class that week. You can reinforce a Nursery lesson taught by covering the same topic in your family home evening lesson. (I like to use the little handouts, games, and drawings my children bring home from Church as a lesson or activity idea.)
- Try one of the LDS videos from LDS Distribution.
- The Gospel Art Picture kit is available for purchase from LDS Distribution or is free online. Each picture has a short text description of the image, perfect for a short family home evening for kids.
- Learning Fun for Infants and Toddlers - FHE activity ideas from the Family Home Evening Resource Book, includes several recipes for clays, finger paints, and play doughs that are safe for babies.
- Here are some FHE Games and Handouts I've created.
- More LDS Games
- Check out my FHE Ideas for Toddlers
LDS.About.com has a great article about how you can organize a Family Home Evening Lesson Exchange Group. Basically, get a group of families together and assign each family a lesson topic. The family creates a lesson and makes duplicates of it for all the members of the group. Then, you hold a dinner where you explain the lesson to each group, exchange the lessons, and everyone goes home with several new family home evening lessons!
The following resources are from LDS.org:
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Family Home Evening Planning Tools - Assignment Boards, Wheels, and Agendas