Sunday Lessons for Young Women

Can/should young women teach Sunday lessons?

“Lessons are usually taught by members of the Young Women presidency or by Young Women advisers. Presidency members and advisers may divide this responsibility as needed.  When young women give instruction, a member of the Young Women presidency or an adviser helps them prepare.” (CHI 10.6.2)

The Young Women president and counselors “often teach lessons in Sunday classes, though they may share this responsibility with Young Women advisers. They oversee efforts to improve gospel learning and teaching in the Young Women organization.” (CHI 10.3.2)

Class advisers “may teach Sunday lessons.” (CHI 10.3.4)

The old handbook had the responsibility for Sunday teaching assigned to advisers, and many leaders who do not read the handbook carefully are still following this outdated assignment. The new handbook makes it clear that Sunday instruction is the responsibility of the young women presidency, assisted by advisers.  Sometimes young women may teach part or even all of a lesson, but they are overseen and assisted by a leader, who are called to ensures the quality of lessons.

Young women leaders have been called and set apart and have the authority to instruct young women.  Lessons are the primary responsibility of young women leaders, though young women may be included in .

The young women secretary has no responsibility that relates to teaching young women according to the handbook.  Be careful arguing that since the handbook doesn’t say that young women secretaries can’t teach that it means they can or should.  The handbook also doesn’t say the young women president can’t conduct Sacrament meeting, but the absence of a specific prohibition doesn’t mean the young women president can or should lead sacrament meeting.  The handbook is a list of responsibilities someone should perform in their office, rather than a list of all the ones they should not.

How can we include young women in teaching on Sundays?

A young women leader should find ways to work directly with young women to plan lessons.

We have done this successfully in our unit by asking young women when they’d like to meet with us to plan the lesson, as opposed to saying “call me if you need anything”.  We have found that some young women are too shy to ask for help.  Sometimes they don’t plan until the last minute and don’t have time to reach out to a leader for help.  Other times they are too inexperienced to realize when a question is poorly formed or when a story is inappropriate.  We love the chances we get to work one-on-one with young women to discuss lessons.

Sometimes young women teach all or part of a lesson.  We let the girl decide how much help she wants.  I’ve done it where the girl taught the opener and conclusion while I taught the meat of the lesson.  I’ve also done it where the girl had most of the lesson planned and I just helped her refine questions or activities to involve more of the class.  I’ve done it where young women needed help even knowing where to start, but ended up planning great lessons.  I’ve also asked girls to simply read and summarize a story in class.  The important thing is that you work together, recognizing that ultimate responsibility for lesson quality belongs to the adult leader.

Mentored lesson planning will help girls feel confident about teaching when they move out of young women.  They will learn from your experience what things work when teaching and what things don’t.  They will learn from you how to consider the needs of the class and how to adapt teaching to students.  You can share your tricks of the trade.  Each person that the girl teaches during her lifetime will benefit from the skills the girl learned from you during her youth.

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