Friday, September 6, 2013

There's No Wrong Way

There's no wrong way to eat a Reese's.  Do you remember those old commercials?  I especially liked the one where the vampire sucks out all the peanut butter!  Although there could conceivably be a wrong way to eat a Reese's (an IV drip of chocolate and peanut butter comes to mind), the point is that I can eat a peanut butter cup in many different ways and still be doing it right.  

Teaching a children's Bible class is much the same.  There are ways I can mess it up, but there are as many different ways to teach children well as there are teachers to instruct them.  So instead of giving you a "how to" lesson, I'm just going to share some tips that have worked for me.

  • Pray!  It sounds like a no-brainer, but in the hustle and bustle to prepare a Bible lesson and get my own kids to class, I've often gone into teaching without having said a prayer.  I can tell the difference.  When I've prayed for my students and for the class time, I have much more patience, and the class goes smoother.
  • Have the children read from the Bible.  Children from first grade on up need to practice the skills of locating specific Scriptures and reading Bible words. Have them take turns reading one or more verses until every child has had a chance to read.  I can still take the time to paraphrase verses in a child's vocabulary, but going straight to the source will build their ability to understand sometimes complex ideas.
  • Role play.  Not all lessons will lend themselves to play acting, but when you come across a good parable or Old Testament story, write a short script and assign parts to the kids.  It's a great way to get kids moving and thinking so the story really sinks in.  I did a role play with the story of the twelve spies last year with my first and second grade class.  We were short several spies, but everyone got to have a speaking part!  They loved pretending to carry grapes on a pole, acting scared (ten spies) and brave (Joshua and Caleb).
  • Change activities frequently.  I had a hard time with this one.  I taught a first and second grade class and could not understand why they were so fidgety.  I don't mind a little wiggling (I have a five year old boy after all), but these kids were just wild on a Wednesday night!  One of my good friends suggested that maybe I should "change it up" a bit more often.  It really helped! Not only do I catch all types of learners by having different kinds of learning activities, I also keep the more active children from getting bored. This is especially important on Wednesday night when all kids seem to have the attention span of fleas.  Five minutes is all I can spend on one activity before the children started belching for fun. 
  • Quiz show!  In order to encourage listening (ahem!), let the kids know that you will have some kind of game with questions after the story. You can do tic tac toe, where the team can only put an X or O if they answer the question correctly.  Bible Jeopardy is also a fun game.  I must admit that I have used bribery with these games.  Winning team gets a piece of candy or a sticker.  
  • Don't forget the application. To make this daunting task a little easier, pick just one short take home lesson from the story.  The younger the class, the simpler the lesson.  For example, if you are telling the story of God sending manna to feed the Israelites, you can use this lesson: God takes care of his children; He will take care of you. For older kids you  might throw in a lesson about not complaining or worrying.  
  • Use songs.  Especially with the younger kids, songs are a great way to teach lists (books of the Bible, the apostles song, even the Judges of Israel) and concepts (Jesus Loves Me, This Little Light).  Our teachers at my congregation are awesome.  Most of the kids know the books of the Old and New Testament by the time they reach first grade!

I hope these tips are helpful, but I have to tell you that I'm not the best kids' teacher out there.  I do the job because it needs to be done, and these are some things that have helped me do a work that is outside my comfort zone.  My guess is that we have a lot of readers who are star Bible class teachers!  I'd love to hear from you. What are some tips you have for teaching a children's class?   
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

No comments:

Post a Comment