Monday, April 26, 2010

Tips for Classroom Management

What About Negative Behaviors?
Perhaps one of the biggest fears of any new teacher is that the children will misbehave in his Sunday school or Bible club class. There are several things of which you should be aware concerning a child’s unacceptable behavior:
1.   Most often, disruptive behavior does not start at church, but is the result of something that happened at home or on the way to church.
2.   There is always some reason for a child’s behavior. If you know that reason, you can help meet the child's needs.
3.   A child cannot learn if he is hurting or preoccupied with a problem.

Preventive Discipline
Remember the following basics as ways to reduce negative behaviors in your Bible club classroom:
•  Prepare fully in advance for each meeting. Spend time in prayer, asking the Lord's blessing on your class. Ask Him to work in the lives of each child to make him receptive to the truths to be taught.
•  Be in your classroom and prepared for your meeting fifteen minutes before the first child arrives, with all leaders and helpers present and prepared. In that way, when the very first child arrives, the classroom is ready and under control.
•  From the moment the child enters your classroom, be alert for trouble symptoms and try to avert further negative behavior before it even starts. Special attention from the leader or a helper, time with a good friend, or getting involved with a favorite activity is often effective in dispelling misbehavior.
•  It is important that transitions from one activity to another are handled smoothly. Make sure you are prepared. Then be sure to state your expectations clearly before beginning a new activity.
•  If one child is yelling or talking loudly, the teacher may suggest, “Let’s talk in our indoor voices.”
•  Happy teachers make happy students, so as much as possible, try to put your own concerns aside during the time you are in the classroom.
•  Never ask a preschooler or toddler if he wants to do something unless you actually intend to give him a choice (he may choose to say no). Instead say, “We’re going to glue the star on the paper now.”
•  A young child who is just learning language is apt to answer no to just about any request. This is all part of the child’s attempt to learn what it means to be an individual, and because “no” is one of the few words he knows and understands. Your guidance should be firm, but suited to the child’s ability to understand and respond. Say, “[Jacob], do not hit [Anna] with the block, because you will hurt [Anna].” If Jacob persists, remove the block or gently pick up Jacob and move him away from Anna.

Be consistent. This helps the child feel more secure and helps him develop his own sense of self-control because he can understand what is expected of him. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bible Lesson: Talking to God in Prayer

Before your lesson, copy and cut out the story wheel from below. Then trace the wheel and cut another wheel from construction paper. Cut out one pie section from the second wheel. Attach that wheel on top of the Story Wheel with a paper fastener. Stand or sit near a chalkboard, whiteboard, or poster board. Hold your open Bible and explain that this is a true story from God's Word, the Bible. Practice telling the story a few times beforehand.
Gideon Talks to God
(Have a child hold up the Story Wheel to show Gideon.)
Gideon was used by God to protect the Israelites from their enemies. One day Gideon saw a visitor from heaven. Who do you think that was? (an angel) An angel from the Lord. Gideon felt very small and afraid. He knew God was so powerful that he would die instantly if he saw God face to face. Gideon figured that seeing the angel of the Lord was the same as seeing God face to face. Gideon told God that he was afraid. How did God answer Gideon? (Have a good reader read Judges 6:23.) That's right. God told him not to be afraid. When you are afraid of something, that is a time to talk to God in prayer. What are some things that might make you or your friends afraid? (Pause for responses and have students write suggestions on the board under the heading FEAR.) (thunderstorms, power blackouts, strange dogs, parents losing their jobs, stranger stopping his car nearby, moving, going to a new school, etc.) Which of those things can you bring to God in prayer? (all of them)

David Talks to God
(Have a child move the Story Wheel to David.)
David also talked to God. (Have a child read II Samuel 7:18-21) David talked to God, thanking Him for choosing David to be a king over the Israelites. David had not asked to be king. God was good to David and gave him this honor. David rejoiced that God would choose him. He thanked God for the blessing He gave David. He also thanked God for letting him know that his throne would never pass away—that there would always be a king on his throne. He thanked God for future blessings. We can thank God in prayer, too. What are some things for which we can thank God? (Pause for responses and have students write suggestions on the board under the heading THANKS.) (salvation, sending Jesus, parents, protection, life, our world, food, friends, etc.)

A Servant Asks for Abraham
(Have a child move the Story Wheel to Abraham's Servant.)
Abraham sent a servant to get a wife for his son, Isaac. The servant went where Abraham told him to go. He wanted to do the right thing and find a good wife for Isaac. He asked God to help Isaac get a good wife by guiding the servant to the right girl. (Have a child read Genesis 24:12-14.) God answered his prayer by leading him to Rebekah. We can ask God for things others need, as well as for things we need. What are some things we can ask God for other people? (Pause for responses and have students write suggestions on the board under the heading ASK FOR OTHERS.) (Ask God to help: friends who are sick or very sad, missionaries who serve Him, our enemies come to know Jesus, people who have lost jobs, others who are in need, etc.)

Hannah's Prayer
(Have a child move the Story Wheel to Hannah.)
Hannah was unhappy. She couldn't have children. Hannah wanted a baby of her own, so she prayed and asked God to give her a baby. (Have a child read I Samuel 1:10-11.) When she was praying, Hannah was so sad that she cried and cried. God answered her prayer. Hannah had a son. Do you know his name? (Samuel) She named him Samuel. What a special answer to prayer he was!

When we make our requests to God, we can ask Him for things we might need or want, like Hannah's prayer for a baby. But our prayers don't always have to be asking for things. Abraham's servant asked God to tell him what to do. He needed God's guidance. Maybe you are mad at a friend and you want God to heal your relationship. What are some other things you might ask of God for yourself? (Pause for responses and have students write suggestions on the board under the heading YOURSELF.) (Ask God that mom or dad will find a new job after being laid off, that your family members will come to know Jesus, that you will have courage to tell your friends about Jesus, that you won't be tempted to gossip, that you will not talk back to your parents, etc.)

Today we talked about how four people in the Bible prayed. I'm glad we can talk to God, just as Abraham's servant, Gideon, Hannah, and David did. (If you wish, ask your students for prayer requests before beginning the prayer time. Then ask for volunteers to pray specifically for each request mentioned. For example, if Alex mentions his mom is sick, ask Jacob to pray for her. Students without specific requests can pray for or give thanks for anything they wish.)

Let's take some time to pray together right now. Think of one thing you want to pray about. Then we'll go around the group, and those who want to do so may say a sentence of prayer to God. Would someone like to open (or close) our prayer time? If you want to pray silently, just say "Amen" when you're done so the person next to you knows it's his or her turn. Let's bow our heads and talk to God in prayer.

(After the prayer time, encourage your students to take time throughout each day to pray. Explain that God loves to hear our thanks and praises as well as our prayer requests.)

(Click on the image above to download the Story Wheel)

Monday, April 12, 2010

National Day of Prayer

The theme for this year’s National Day of Prayer challenges us to pray for such a time as this. The National Day of Prayer will be held on Thursday, May 6. But you can do things to remind yourself and your kids to pray each day of the year. Whether you give your students “God Bless the USA” Wristbands to wear, decorate your classroom with patriotic d├ęcor, place a flag at the front of your room, or anything else you may think of—let’s PRAY!

“The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.“ — Nahum 1:7

Here are some ways to help even your youngest students learn to talk to their heavenly Father in prayer. Don’t let the prayer time turn into a giggle fest, and don’t encourage silliness. Instead, explain to the children that this is a time for each person to talk to God with respect and love. Do an action rhyme or sing a quiet song to prepare them for the time of prayer, calm them down, and help them get ready to focus on talking to God. Use this prayer rhyme to help your young students get ready to pray. Do the actions as you say the words:
            Little children, fold your hands (fold hands)
            And bow your heads this way (bow heads).
            Think of God and His great love (hug self)
            As quietly we pray (whisper, fold hands, and bow head).

Encourage each child to participate by sharing prayer requests and praying aloud, if they wish. (Do not force any child to pray aloud.) Let the children suggest things for which to ask or to thank God. Some children may wish to pray their own sentence prayers. Some of your toddlers and preschoolers may volunteer to pray but not be able to verbalize their prayers when it’s their turn. So pray a short sentence prayer and let them say it after you, such as, ‘Thank You, God, for Mommy and Daddy.” Allow plenty of time for the children to participate in praying.

Lead your students in prayer at the beginning of your class time, before snacks, and again at the end of the class. Use your own prayers to model various ways to talk to God. Your closing prayer can relate to the Bible story or memory verse you just taught. You may want to conclude your time of prayer with a quiet song such as GOD IS SO GOOD or FATHER, I ADORE YOU. Include Christian music in your quiet time through CDs, MP3 players, voices, and instruments.

Ask God to guide you as you prepare meaningful prayer times for your students. Then listen to the Holy Spirit and be willing to adapt your prepared plans as necessary to meet the needs of the children and make the most of each teachable moment.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Giving Your Best Each Week

Studies have shown that most Sunday school teachers prepare for their classes for less than 30 minutes—often after 10:00 on Saturday night! It is absolutely impossible for you to have the kind of exciting, dynamic classroom, where children discover wonderful things about their heavenly Father, when their teacher has spent less than 30 minutes preparing for the class. God cannot bless such a lack of preparation, nor can you expect your lesson to be a success and effectively reach young lives for Jesus.

As Christians, we are called to do our best in all situations. Colossians 3:23 commands us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (NIV) Here is a simple, effective way to prepare for each Bible lesson you present. When you return home from teaching a lesson, before you go to bed, read over the lesson for the next week. Pray for the children, and ask the Lord to help you prepare and make the lesson come alive for your children. Pray about any struggles or concerns the children are experiencing in their lives. Ask God to open their hearts to His Word, taught through you. Ask Him to remove from your mouth any words that are not from Him. And ask Him to give you wisdom from His Holy Spirit as you respond to questions from the children and help them understand His Word.

As you go about your daily activities during the week, the Lord will be working in your life to prepare you for your Bible lesson. Watch for examples of God working in your own life that might help the children understand the Bible lesson and begin to apply it themselves.

Then, several days before your Bible lesson, reread the lesson outline and Scripture, learn the Bible memory verse and any new action rhymes, songs, games, or activities. Gather your visuals and practice telling the Bible story or presenting your lesson until you can do so without relying heavily on a script. Try making the craft, and be sure you have planned for all the necessary supplies and tools.

Then it’s time to pretend: while you are going about your everyday activities—washing dishes, going to work, making the bed, showering, exercising, etc.—pretend! Pretend that you are telling the Bible story, leading an action rhyme, and using directed conversation to focus the children on the Bible theme or memory verse. Do it over and over again until you can do it from memory.

As the children arrive for your lesson, it’s too late to prepare or plan anything, so encourage all leaders and helpers to arrive 15 minutes before the class begins. Have a moment of prayer, thank God for helping you prepare, and ask Him to guide you through the lesson. Be sure every preschool learning center is set up and ready to go, craft and game supplies for all ages are gathered, all the snacks are ready, and visuals are in order. Then take a deep breath and greet the first precious child with a hug or a high five and a smile!