It is a time of unprecedented temple building, and Utah has more temples than any other state. Utah is home to 17 temples — 10 more than California, which has the second-most—and is home to the only two cities in the world with two temples (Provo and South Jordan). One open house is currently running with two more on the way. In short, it’s a great time to teach your kids about the temple.
Every child needs to obtain his or her own testimony of the temple, but parents can help nurture their children’s growing love for the temple by teaching, testifying and leading by example—no matter the age of their children. Here are some ideas for helping your children learn to love the temple at any age.
Young children (0-3 years old)
When teaching very young children, the key is to keep it simple. Display pictures of the temple in your home and teach young children to say the word “temple.” Sing songs like “I Love to See the Temple” to your babies at bedtime. Point out the temple as you drive past it in the car or when you see photos of the temple at church. Attend temple open houses and take walks around your local temple grounds. These small, simple habits will show children that their parents love the temple, which is a great first step.
If a parent’s love for the temple is reflected in the home, even the youngest of children will pick up on the positive feelings.
School-age kids (4-11 years old)
The Primary General Presidency has given parents guidelines for teaching their Primary-aged children about the temple. First, they suggest, parents must set a worthy example. Second, they should take time to teach their kids about the temple, perhaps using these helpful resources. Third, parents can involve their children in family history efforts.
As circumstances permit, you might also take your children to temple open houses and talk to them about their questions and feelings. If your children are at least 8 years old, take them to temple dedications. Get on the computer with your kids and help them identify ancestors and prepare names for the temple. These experiences with family history will make their experiences doing baptisms for the dead that much sweeter when the time comes.
Teenagers (12-18 years old)
The teenage years provide some of the greatest opportunities—and the greatest challenges—for gospel teaching and learning. After your child turns 12, he or she can attend the temple to perform baptisms for the dead. Encourage your children to participate in youth temple trips and schedule a few trips of your own.
Teenagers who attend the temple regularly will begin to feel comfortable there. They will also understand more fully the importance of maintaining a current temple recommend and will gain a testimony of temple work based on their own experiences, not just on that of their parents.
Youth are also exceptionally good at using technology, making them great assets in family history work. As youth search out their ancestors and provide baptisms and confirmation ordinances for them, they will experience more fully the joy of temple service. They will also grow closer to their parents and other adults in their life as they coordinate with them to provide additional ordinances for deceased family members.
Young adults and beyond (18+ years)
Most teaching about the temple during children’s formative years culminate in those children choosing to attend the temple and to receive saving ordinances for themselves. This important milestone usually takes place in young adulthood, just before your child’s mission or marriage. This is a tender experience for any parent and one that is “worth every effort sacrifice” to experience.
Be sensitive to the needs of your young adult child as he or she prepares to go to the temple. Answer any questions the best you can and bear testimony of the blessings of temple worship. After your child has made important temple covenants, attend the temple with him or her as often as possible. As you worship in the temple with your adult child, you will both learn and grow in your testimonies and in gospel knowledge.
When my children were young we toured the Seattle Temple. Our three children were all under four. They were so reverent, very unusual for our two boys. Even our youngest at 9 months was so quiet and observant. My eleven year old son and I toured the Medford Oregon and the Columbia River Temples at his request. He loved to be in the temple, and wanted to learn about them. This summer we toured Ogden temple with two teens and a granddaughter not yet two. She knows Jesus, and always says his name when she sees a picture or a statue. They have a lovely picture of Jesus on their living room wall. In the temple she noticed him in every picture and said his name. This weekend, she saw a white bust of Jesus in the Joseph Smith building in Salt Lake. She pointed from across the room, seeing only his side view, but she knew. It was her beloved Jesus. Her mom sang about the temple while looking at a pass along card with a temple picture on it. This little one wanted to hear the song, I Love to See theTemple sung over and over again. Their little souls feel the Spirit. They love their Beloved Big Brother and his House.