Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hints & Tips for Teaching Children

Here are some helpful tips for those of you teaching age 2 through grade 6. For more teaching tips, visit the Teaching Tips section of our website.

Ages 2 & 3

"Me. Mine."
Twos and threes do not understand sharing. This is evident in the frequent use of the words "me" and "mine." This is not all bad. It is a necessary stage before sharing can take place. Before a child can learn to share something, he must learn to possess it. Sharing is voluntarily giving up what we possess.

Ages 4 & 5

Language Explosion
At ages four and five, a preschooler's vocabulary increases tenfold, from 150 words to 1500 words! You can help them manage this explosion of words by doing two things. First, teach preschoolers how to use their new words correctly by speaking to them in complete, literal sentences. Second, let them practice using their new words by asking them to retell a story.

Grades 1 & 2

Keep it concrete
Primaries are making tremendous intellectual progress. By this age they can manipulate data mentally, come to some logical conclusions, and define, compare, and contrast things. But they still do not understand symbolism. After touring the defense plant where her daddy worked, one first grader resisted when told it was time to go home. She cried, "But I haven't seen where Daddy makes the money yet!"
When teaching primaries, say what you mean and mean what you say. Always teach them in literal concrete terms. 

Grades 3 & 4

Bounce this idea around
Think of your words as tennis balls. Every idea or lesson point is one ball. When you teach using the lecture method, you are tossing several balls to the children and expecting them to catch and hold on to all of them. (How many balls do you think the children can handle before they start dropping some of them?) When you teach using a question/answer method, you toss out a ball (your question) and ask a child to hold it and then toss back a ball of his own (a stab at an answer). Is your teaching a singles match between you and one other child or do you see that everyone gets a chance to handle the ball? When you use group discussion, you toss out a ball and ask a child to toss it to another child, then to another and to another. How many balls can your children juggle at one time? By thinking of your words as tennis balls, you can visualize what you are expecting the children to do with the concepts you toss their way.

Grades 5 & 6

A Record of Faith
Even though God's work is incredible, we often forget about experiences not long after they happen. Keep spiral notebooks on hand and let your preteens write their names on the outside. Encourage them each week to keep journals of their faith journey. They might write prayers or record answered prayers, describe how they saw God at work in the previous week, jot down thanksgivings, or write what this week's Bible memory verse means in their life. Keep the journals in a special place and allow the children to write in them once they have finished any class projects.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

5 Tiny Training Tips

by Donna Lucas
Publishing Director
Gospel Light /Children’s Ministry Resources

It’s never easy to get all of your Children’s Ministry volunteers together in one place! You can advertise the most fabulous training event and party, and yet it’s nearly impossible to get every teacher to come.

If you’re passionate about Children’s Ministry, you know that these questions always haunt the back of your mind:

How can I help my volunteer teachers see the importance of what they are doing? 

How can I help my volunteer teachers grow in their abilities?

For imparting vision and helping them see the importance of what they are doing, here are five tiny training tips for any teacher!

1.    KNOW the Bible content. No matter how well you think you know it, read the story again from the Bible. (You’ll be surprised at what you’ve forgotten!) Read it again from the teachers’ guide. Mark your Bible ahead of time with sticky notes and a highlighter. Now you’re free to act out the story, tell it in “first person” mode or do whatever works in that class, that day—because you never know if what you planned to do will result in kids getting that “blank” look. With the content “in” you, you’re free to switch up your method to make the “lights go on” in their eyes!

2.    Write the Big Idea or main point somewhere where YOU can see it. This helps you repeat it whenever you need to—and it keeps you on track!

3.    Highlight the activities and ideas you want to use for this class. Then be sure you have all of the materials. With so little time, you don’t want to waste time rifling through the pages or looking for missing materials!

4.    Prepare them socially. We can all remember those horrifying discoveries we made as preteens—feet too big, nose the wrong shape, hair too curly, too straight, too many freckles, too dark, too pale—you name it, preteens are suddenly and deeply aware of themselves and can feel overwhelmed by their worries. Create an accepting environment in your class, liberally sprinkled with humor that is not judgmental or sarcastic. Your preteens will learn from your model of kindness and humor that it is possible to “accept one another…as Christ accepted you.” They’ll feel safe and learn that these kids are truly their friends. This kind of environment will support the bond with the other kids who follow Jesus—because in the chaos of middle school, they’ll need people who accept them and remind them it’s valuable to follow Him.

5.    Practically memorize the conclusion, so that you can say those two or three sentences looking kids in the eye. You want to be able to see by their faces if they understand!

6.    Have two methods of memorizing the Bible verse “in the bag”—again, if one way doesn’t seem to work or you have extra time, you’ve got something fun and meaningful to do!

Even though it can be hard to reach each and every volunteer with encouragement and training resources, the process of building up the skills of your volunteers is a significant part of an effective children’s ministry. Training is a process whereby your volunteers improve and gain confidence in the skills they use. Training allows for growth and development of additional new skills. Training ensures vitality and freshness of the entire staff. And training helps your volunteers most effectively reach kids for Jesus!
Serving Christ through you,

Donna Lucas
Publishing Director
Gospel Light /Children’s Ministry Resources