I received so many great suggestions on last week’s post about working with children that I wanted to include some of them here.
(Please feel free to continue to add your own comments on either this post or the original!)
My very own co-teacher, Mrs. Nantier, added the following:
If there is one encouragement I can offer to any children’s church worker it is not to allow the enemy to discourage you with the thought that what you do doesn’t matter, especially if you teach young children. Often you may feel that the children don’t remember what you taught them. But remember you are just laying “a line” down, because the Lord teaches all of us line upon line, precept upon precept. And sometimes, as happened to me this past year, after many years of teaching, a young adult will come up and tell you about something you taught them when they were very young and how it impacted them and by that the Lord reminds you, what you do is important in the kingdom and it is not a light thing.
She actually said something similar to me a few months ago, and it’s something I should have included in my original post. Our church had been experience some pretty cool moves of the Holy Spirit, where there’d be long periods of praise and prayer, and you could really feel the tangible presence of God. They were awesome, special times, but they always seemed to happen during our Sunday PM service. (We have three different church services during the week at Calvary Temple.)
I remember feeling a little bummed out that I always missed it, and I expressed that thought to Mrs. Nantier. She encouraged me about how important our job was–that God had us exactly where He wanted us. Caring for all the children in our class enabled the parents to be a part of such a special time.
Jay, who manages all the social media for Calvary Temple, is also one of our children’s worship leaders. I always used to love subbing on Sunday AM because it was like watching a variety show–he had so many characters and dances and fun songs. He gave the following advice:
For me connecting with kids is about getting on their level, not talking down to them. It’s about noticing what motivates or excites you and translating that to them. It’s about paying attention to what they respond to and doing more of that. Be enthusiastic about what you teach or lead them in. That doesn’t mean you have to be over-the-top. Tierney used the word “engaged” which is one of my favorite words. If you’re not engaged with the subject matter- if you’re not curious about the lesson, then neither will they be engaged. If you’re bored, they will be too. Your attitude and perspective is what will be conveyed to the students. Look for the nuances and freshness in a lesson or story you’ve read a hundred times.
One of my good friends, Donna, is one of the fifth/sixth grade teachers on Wednesday PM, and she had this tip:
Reading the lesson straight from the binder does not work for 3&4 year olds but it also does not really work with 10 year olds either. They need to be engaged, as other commenters have said.
When we teach our 5th/6th grade class on Wednesday nights, the kids get the opportunity to read the scripture verses out loud directly from the Bible. They see it and read it for themselves. Then we stop every few verses and discuss any difficult words they don’t know and we ask the kids to tell us in their own words what it is we just read. My husband teaches the lesson and he likes to be silly and fun with the kids but he’s very clear on where the boundaries are to keep them reigned in.
I get to facilitate the after-lesson-activity. I try to come up with games that engage them and also review the lesson. Our favorites are Wheel of Fortune and Basketball Trivia. And I always have a second activity ready to pull out of my pocket in case the service goes long.
I loved reading everyone’s tips and suggestions. Please keep them coming!