TEACHING TIP: BATHROOM BREAK

In today’s world this area of children’s ministry has become very sensitive. First of all your church needs to have a policy and second you need to follow it.  This will help to protect you and the church should any legal action be brought. At our church we have what is called the “2 deep rule”. Two workers need to be with the children at all times, NEVER just one worker. The two workers can not be relatives.  There are no exceptions including bathroom breaks.

The children in elementary class should be able to last 60 to 90 minutes with out going to the restroom. The best way to start then is to have a restroom break at the beginning of class. 5 minutes before the start of class have all activities stop. The kids then have a choice to go to the restroom or take a seat. If you don’t limit them to these 2 options they may decline to use the restroom because they don’t want to break away from the activity they are involved with. As a result they will need to go during class.

We have a female stand outside the open door to the girl’s restroom and a male do the same for the boys. Also this restroom is dedicated for children only to use. There are stalls so each child does have privacy. If a child ask to use the restroom during service you may ask them to wait 5 minutes and if they don’t repeat the request they may not truly need to go. If they do repeat the request then I would allow them to go but only after telling them they will not get any type of reward for good behavior and if there are any games to be played they will not get to play. If they insist on going, allow them to go, there is a good chance that there really is a need. Also I would encourage you to not allow any trips to the bathroom during the main lesson or praise and worship time. This is the major reason for being in church. Once you are a plan for restroom break or make any changes to that plan, tell your class several times, and stay with plan it will help train them and the class well be more orderly. Any always be sensitive to younger children and any child with special needs.

 

For the preschool age child more flexibility is needed. If you’re too rigid then you may have some accidents to clean up and a bigger disruption to you class. The 2 deep rule needs to always be kept. A good choice is to have the restroom break 15 to 20 minutes into class time. This allows time for all the kids to arrive and shortens the “hold time” of a 90 minutes service to 70 minutes. If you have enough workers to divide the class in half, so they are not all in the restrooms it will go much smoother. Divide and conquer is a basic principle for preschool classes. While one half is in the restroom the other half can be taught a portion of the lesson. Then have the class change places and repeat. A rope with small handles can be useful to kept kids in a group and stop them from running. The handles can be tied loops in the rope. The rule is you must keep you hand on the rope. It is a very concrete command, staying in a single file line can be very unclear to a younger child. After a child has visited the restroom it is common practice to have them sit or stand against the wall as they wait for others to finish. The trouble with that is, it is not stimulating enough to keep them there and usually results in a struggle to keep them orderly. Plan to do something. Have them repeat a memory verse, let them tell a story to the other kids. Have a bean bag to toss to each child and then back to the worker. If you don’t plan an activity they will come up with one. The one they choose most likely will not be appropriate. The key to restroom breaks is to have a plan don’t just let them happen at the whim of your class.

Teaching Tips: Come To Class With Something To Give.

The Christmas season is here. It shouldn’t be the only time of year we give. What if every class was like Christmas morning for the children? Jesus told his disciples to feed the 5000. He said “you give” (Matt. 14:16). That kind of giving was past their level of comprehension. Lets be willing to give pass our current level of ability. We don’t need to give natural gifts every class but we can give love, words of encouragement, healing, salvation, infilling of the Holy Ghost, the Word, and many other super natural gifts. Like natural gifts it takes effort to prepare them. What is the need or the desire? I have gotten natural gifts that caused me to wonder why the giver ever thought I would need or want the gift they gave. Let’s give gifts to the children that “fit” like apples of gold in pitchers of silver.

The lesson is not the gift. If it were we could make copies and hand them out to the class and be done with it. The lesson is simply a direction of where the class is going. Every teacher in the class has the opportunity to take the lesson as a starting point to seek the Father as to what He desires to give the children. Prepare His gifts and give them during the class.  It is easy to believe God wants to bless the children. The challenge is, can He use you to do it?   Don’t give the lesson as a school teacher would give science facts. Don’t be satisfied with giving the facts of a lesson, give the Living Word. Come into the class room with fresh manna from heaven. Come with gifts from Heaven and be a giver of life.

Teaching Tips: Discipline is Love is Discipleship

The people you discipline become your disciples. I have been told that if there is a discipline issue in a class, 90% of the time the teacher is the reason for it. The teacher is the one that is allowing a class to be undisciplined. The teacher is the one that could have prevented it. The teacher is in charge of the class; so the responsibility is with the teacher not the students.

Children want discipline. Children love to play games. Games are small sets of rules. They are easy to follow, they are fair, and they are fun to play. We need to have discipline in our classes, and that discipline needs to be easy to follow.  We need to constantly and fairly enforce the rules. Making up the rules as you go or changing them will not create discipline.

Discipline requires rules that are achievable. Rules that are unattainable or unjust don’t instill discipline. If you have a rule that says no talking, then that can be almost impossible for a 4-5 year old to obey. A rule “No talking out of turn” makes more sense, but what does “out of turn” mean? Rules can be far more challenging than you may think. Be sure your students don’t just know the rule, be sure they understand the rules.

You need to create the discipline in a class, don’t expect the rules to do that. Israel didn’t have a relationship with the 10 commandments. We have a relationship with Jesus, and because we have this relationship, we keep His word. Kids don’t obey rules for the rule’s sake; children obey the rules because they have a relationship with the one who gives the rules. They need to know you and know that you are just and honest. Take the time to build relationship with your students.

The God kind of love is the key to discipline. Gods love says “I love you, you can’t hurt me.” It doesn’t count or make any recounts of any evil done to it. God’s love benefits others and is not self seeking. The attitude of “I am in charge, sit down and behave, and I have something to say” is not that kind of love. The attitude of what must I do to get God’s message to His children is God’s love. Discipline is done for the children not to the children.

How would the story read if the next time you had a class and 10% of the children in that class came from homes that were full of poverty, violence, drugs, crime, and hopelessness? I mean this to be a challenge to prepare you to love the unlovely and to discipline the undisciplined. A wise man counts the cost before he builds. Are you prepared to build lives by disciplining and make disciples those that come to your class?

An ounce of discipline is better than a ton of learning. Be sure you have a disciplined class. Love is a great motivator. Get the children to love you then they will love your words, then they will love your God and then your God will be their God.

Teaching Tips: How To Control a Class Room part 2

Why are children uncontrollable? Here are the basic seasons:

1.     They don’t know or remember the rules or they are confused as to what is the correct behavior.

2.     They have not been train to obey.

3.     We have place demands on them that they are unable to fulfill.

4.     They are in rebellion.

5.     They may have mental or emotional challenges.

Last week’s teachers tips covered 1, 2, and we started learning about number3. The Word says God will not test a person past the point they are able to stand. “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able”1 Cor 10:13. In other words know the children’s limits and stay within those limits. This is one of the great challenges in teach. If 75% of the class doesn’t have their attention focused on your teaching, you are obviously out side their limits and you should redirect your approach. Kind of like the fighter jet coming in to low as it attempts to land on an aircraft carried. The control tower is yelling, pull up, pull up!!  That would be your class squirming in their chairs or 3 pairs of children play between themselves or have a dozen “entertaining themselves”. If you don’t “pull up” and change your coarse it will be disastrous. You’re the pilot; you are the one who is responsible to keep command of the class. A pilot must beware of the limitations of his aircraft. Here are some points you can begin with. Do change the activity levels in the class. Do involve more than one of the 5 senses. Do demand their attention. Do give them your attention. Do build relationships with them.

Very few children set out to be rebellious. They don’t have that on their “To Do” list. It is not where they want to go. So if they end up there they usually are willing to get out of rebellion. Don’t embarrass them by addressing it front of the class. Don’t ask “why did you do that?”  The Lord asked Cain “what did you do?” that is the right question to ask. Get them to identify the action that they are displaying that is wrong. When ask if that action is acceptable. Ask them to apologize. Forgive them. PRAY with them, and allow them to continue with the class. In the pass I would give a hug to the child but today that may not be appropriate. Some kind of physical contact does help bring closure to the issue; at least does a fist bump.  Ifthey refuse to cooperate though this process have them sit apart form the class and have them thinks about it and after a couple of minutes return to where you left off in the process. Sometimes this can take several minutes to complete don’t give in. it will work.

If you sense a child has mental or emotional challenges most of what we have mentioned will not over come the issue.  This situation needs to be communicated to your leadership.  Don’t just ignore it or just tolerate it. This course may deny the child getting the help they need.Most importantly pray and ask God want to do. I was doing street witnessing as a clown at the Indianapolis 500 when I became surrounded by uncontrollable children. I ask the Lord what to do. He said, pray. My first thought was to pray they all would just leave. I yelled out who wants to pray. To my surprise they all responded positively, we got down on our knees, and prayed the salvation pray. The chaos was gone and peace had come to the group of 20+ children around me. They got what they needed, praise God! He knows what they need so ask Him.

Teaching Tips: How To Control a Class Room

It has been said that the teacher is responsible 9 times out of 10 if a class is rowdy, disrespectful, or just plain out of control.. The idea is not to lay blame, but for us to recognize that we, as teachers, need to change. It is a copout to say the child needs to change. We teachers need to help facilitate the change. I do want to point out that the parents, not the Wonder Kids volunteers, are required by God’s Word to train up a child in the way they should go. Pastors Mark and Janet know tithing is the correct behavior, but they aren’t going through the giving records to enforce tithing. Instead, they teach it, they expect it, and they give the opportunity to do it. We don’t want to become the “behavior police,” whose only purpose it to catch and stop the wrong behavior. We do need to have a watchful eye, but we can’t allow our attitude to become one of“I’m gonna catch you disobeying.”  It is better to set a standard of acceptable behavior; then teach it, expect it, and give the opportunity to do it. If that isn’t happening in our classroom, then we have set the kids up for failure.

Say the rules early in EVERY class time. This is not a “joking time” or done in a “light” manner. If you do, then the kids think the rules are a joke or to be taken lightly. Tell your class what happens when the rules are obeyed and what happens when they are not obeyed. Deut. 28 has blessings and curses. The blessings seem twice as good after reading the curses. Expect them to obey. No one ever rises above what is expected. Most of the kids perform correctly for 7 hours a day in school, so you know they can. However, teachers can’t expect them to do what they don’t understand. For example, if a rule is no talking, but then you ask who lives in your heart and whole class yells JESUS with your approval. Did they break the rule? In the eyes of a visiting 4 yr old, the answer would be yes.  Another rule Stay in your seat and keep hands to yourself can be confusing during praise and worship and play time. I am not saying these are bad rules. We do need to communicate the rules, make sure they are age appropriate, and fairly enforce them. Saying, “It is coloring time, you may talk now” or “It is lesson time, you need to be on your best behavior and obey all the rules” gives the students clarity in your expectations.

Giving them an opportunity to obey is offering them a chance to correct the wrong behavior. This is why we give the child a couple of warnings. This is not just to give grace but to help the child learn the right actions. We also need to give them an opportunity to rejoin the class activity if they have been separated as a means of discipline. Giving them an opportunity to obey also requires the teacher to have realistic expectations. As a rule, preschoolers and younger children are not going to sit still for 15 minutes. So, plan your class accordingly. Elementary children at 8:15 on a Wednesday night are tired and hungry, so they can’t give you the attention of a Sunday 9:00 am class. Also, while you are teaching, provide something to hold their attention (i.e. use a visual aid), by doing this, you are offering an opportunity for them to obey. We will continue this next week.

Let’s look at this. A person’s attention is like a bull’s eye. The thoughts come into the outer ring and then travel to the center. Some thoughts never make it all the way to the center. We kick it out and start thinking about something else. An adult can stay focused on a single thought in the center of the bull’s eye for 5-7 seconds, then he/she starts thinking on other things. These thoughts are brain food, and a brain is always hungry, desiring to be stimulated. The only time the brain has no activity is when it is dead, so it’s a good thing that our brains will strive to keep getting thoughts. So if you, as a teacher, don’t supply the thoughts during class,  the children will get their own by acting out. With this in mind, it is up to the teachers to supply thoughts that the kids’ minds can grasp. If you don’t supply an abundance of thoughts, then you’re not giving them an opportunity to focus on the thoughts and to obey. Confused?  We will continue this next month.

 

 

Teaching Tips: How To Keep Your Class Moving

The Tabasco Company was having trouble moving their sauce. They called a big meeting to increase sales with the intent of getting consumers to use more of their hot and spicy product. A secretary was in the room and suggested that they make the hole where the sauce comes out of the bottle bigger. They did, and that simple change more than doubled the use of Tabasco sauce.   

We get children for approximately 3 hours a week, if they go to two services, so we need to pour as much of the Word and Spirit into them as we can. Here are some tips:

1.     Start on time and put a time limit on each activity and stick to it.

2.     When doing the necessary non-spiritual things (snack, restroom break, giving prizes or candy, collecting offering) find ways to be efficient and save time.

a.     Snack – have a helper set out the snack while class does another activity, and then all students come get the snack, or get 2 or 3 people involved in the distribution while students are waiting in their seats to be served.

b.     Restroom- ½ class goes at a time, while the other ½ is doing  a craft

c.      Prizes or candy- have a helper pass it out so you can go on to the next thing.

d.     Collecting offering- have kids come put their offerings in the buckets, you could make a race out of it, passing buckets takes too much time. Even in the adult service, often try to do another activity while buckets are passed. It is too hard to get a class to do two things at once.

3.   Don’t take on all classroom responsibilities yourself—no lone rangers, please. This would be like using the small hole to dispense Tabasco. Use your helpers and delegate some activities of the class for them to lead.

4.  During class time, alternate the teaching responsibilities for consecutive activities. This allows those not in the lead to get ready for the next learning activity. For example, the worship leader shouldn’t be taking up offering right before they lead worship. And the craft person shouldn’t be teaching the lesson right before leading the craft time.

5.   Make transitions quickly from one activity to the next. The person who is leading the next activity needs to be “on deck” so that there is no pause during the switch.

6.   If an activity is taking a long time to do, ask other teachers in your class for ideas to expedite the process.

7.   Don’t allow one child to monopolize the class time. If they have a justifiable need, have a helper handle it so you can proceed with leading the class.

8.   If an activity isn’t working, and you can’t fix it quickly; stop and move on. Get it fixed and come back to it.

In every business, church, or class, there are always  bottle necks that are slowing down work flow. Let’s work to find the bottle necks and enlarge them so we can get more of the Word and Spirit into our students.

 

Teaching Tips: A Trip To The Indianapolis 500

Below is a testimony that happened to me. It is followed by the lessons I learned that day.

"I went with a group to the Indianapolis 500 to witness. The leader said some will be preaching, some will be singing, and some will be clowns.  I said, "I'm not going to sing.  I'm not going to preach.  I guess I have to be a clown."  Soon a man began to put makeup on my face.  And as he began to put makeup on my face, he began to pray in tongues.  I knew something special was happening in my heart.  I didn't know what it was, but I knew something was happening.  That day when we went out to minister, we were passing out tracks to all the children.  All of a sudden, I was surrounded.  There were children everywhere. I couldn’t move and they wouldn’t leave.  They just kept trying to get close to me to get some prize or something. Well, what am I going to do?  Then right up out of my spirit, I knew what I was to do - pray.  And my head said, "Pray they go away."  No, that wasn’t right.  So I said, "Boys and girls, do you know how to pray?"  They said, "Yes."  And we all got down on our knees, and we prayed the Prayer of Salvation.  Then they all just left. That day, several children received Jesus as their Lord.  And as soon as I said, 'Amen,' they were gone, they seem to just disappeared, before I couldn't get rid of them."

1)   I couldn't get rid of them because they had a need, Christ.  Children will “pester” you because they need something not because they are mean or ill mannered. Every nursery workers can said, “Amen”. This is just as true for children of all ages. They know they need something. They don’t know what is it, or how to ask for it. They were looking to us to meet their needs.  Alleluia, in Christ we can, and as soon as children get what they need their harassment stops and they return to being delightful children again. 

2)   Praying in tongues is the beginning of ministry. Next you need to hear in your spirit. Finally you have to know what to do with what you heard. Don’t just pray for your class. After you pray expect to hear from heaven. Once you have that word form heaven pray fully consider how to minister that word.

3)   The last lesson I gained is to be willing to do something, anything and God will use YOU.

Teaching Tips: Our Intellectual Faculties – Intuition Or Spirit

  1. Reason
  2. Intuition (spirit)
  3. Perception
  4. Will
  5. Memory
  6. Imagination

Last week’s teaching tip was about reason. This week we will cover our intuition, or more correctly, our born-again spirit. I used my spirit just this week to fix a tractor. It was working fine; but after turning it off, it just wouldn’t start. Reason said that the battery went bad in the heat. Memory said that it was the starter last time. Both were wrong. Then, I just had a knowing that the tree branches that had been in my path had knocked a wire loose. Sure enough, that was it! My spirit led me to solve the problem.

We instinctively activate our spirit every day, but do we teach and encourage the children in our classes to do so? In our class during worship, we encourage each student to use and to pay attention to his spirit . It should not be the only time when we place the emphasis on this.. The children need to be exposed to the same type of service in their classes that the adults witness in the Healing and Miracle Rallies. Spiritual activity will allow the Holy Ghost, the Great Teacher, the Spirit of truth, to impart things into our children that no man could. To pave the way for spiritual activity, we, as teachers, should adopt the mindset that we have a John the Baptist type ministry. In John 3:30, John said, “He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease.”  For us, we teachers get the class planned, structured, and behaved (after all, John’s main message was to repent); then we decrease by turning the service over to the Holy Ghost.  There isn’t a formula to follow to get a move of the Holy Ghost. I would strongly recommend duplicating what Pastor does in the adult service on a child’s level. Use simple vocabulary and refer to the gifts of the spirit which are in operation, and explain what is happening in the spirit realm. Our children need spiritual practice time in class so when they go into the game called life, they can use their spirits and be successful.  Let’s get our students spiritually active in class, not just mentally or physically. 

Teaching tips: Our Intellectual Faculties

The list below is from an educational perspective. Each of us has these faculties; they are like muscles because the more we use them, the stronger they become. We use these faculties to learn and process information. The students will get more out of services when we encourage them to use their God-given abilities listed below. The more intellectual faculties we have them use, the greater the learning. Today, I’m discussing the first one.

  1. Reason
  2. Intuition (spirit)
  3. Perception
  4. Will
  5. Memory
  6. Imagination

Reason is our ability to think. Our job as teachers is to get the class to think. Don’t confuse thinking with mere brain activity. If you ask most people what they are thinking, they would be speechless. People can tell you what others think, but to use their own brain power is much more difficult. Some people would rather die than think. Some  would like to have others do our thinking for them. Thinking is becoming a lost art.

How do we get the class to think? This is the life application of the lesson. We have taught the spiritual truth. Now, let the class develop ideas on how to use it in life, in a prayer, or to solve a problem for a puppet or character that has come to class. The process of getting the students to think, called reasoning, is simple. Take the truth that is taught and use it to develop a plan that will create the desired results. This process is what separates doers of the Word from hearers only. If the class is not able to internalize and apply the truth that is taught, they will not become doers of the Word.

For example, let’s use the Bible story of Israelites marching around the walls of Jericho and the truth is that if we obey God, we will overcome difficult situations. To encourage the students to tap into their reasoning faculties, we could ask the following questions to get them to think:

  • What if the army hadn’t kept quiet?
  • Why did God tell them to walk around the city 7 times?
  • The people in the city did not overcome their difficult situation, why?
  • How would the story have ended if the city had repented?

Do you have a “Jericho” in your life?

The simplest way is to ask the class these questions; however, there is a long journey from the story taught and its Bible truth to answers of these questions. There is likely to be a long silence after asking a thought-provoking question. If you tell the class the answer, the students haven’t used their reasoning.

Try this,

1.  Ask the questions at the beginning of the class time and tell the class you want the answer at the end of class. This will give them time to reason. You will need to remind them of the question(s) throughout class time.

2. Ask the boys one question and the girls another.

3. Propose these questions in a skit or a story that is open ended and have the students supply the ending.

4. Use pictures to tell the story and let the students put the story into words using their reasoning.

In The Kids on the Move curriculum, the Master Mechanic videos illustrate this process, only the Master Mechanic does all the reasoning, not the kids. Get your class to become doers of the Word by helping them to use their reasoning.

 

Teaching Tips: Our Intellectual Faculties Perception and Will

Our intellectual faculties are:

  1. reason
  2. intuition (spirit)
  3. perception
  4. will
  5. memory
  6. imagination

We have covered reason and intuition. We also talked about perception or perspective back in April. If I held up a black book and the word Bible was on the side that faced me and the side that faced you was a blank black cover, we would have different ideas about the book. We might even argue about the book. Both our view points would be correct just different. Our perception changes with experience, increased knowledge, time, or as we change our position. A child’s perception is different than the teachers. It is not a question of right and wrong but of willingness to accept the others person’s point of view. Once we can do that we are able to reach that person and share our views. Kind of like Jesus became human to be like us, so he could reach us, so we could be like Him.

The human will is amazing. I can recall rock climbing and being stuck in one place for over an hour and then simply willing myself to the top. I have willed myself to cycle up a mountain, to continue an orienteering hike to the end, and to run a first mile for the first time. I was physically unable to do any of these things. My intellectual power of will was able to take over when the power of the body had been depleted. The will allows us to concentrate on one thing and exclude everything else. Coaches give pep talks in an attempt to stimulate the players will to win. They say in sports the will to win is more important than skill. The children in our classes need Holy Ghost preaching to awaken their will to run the race God has for them. When I think of the will, I think of the movie Rocky. The movie was about a washed up boxer getting the chance to fight the champ and winning that fight against all odds. The movie didn’t have great acting, the story line was very predicable, and yet it won the Best Picture award because of the movie’s ability to make the audience believe anything is possible if you  have “The Eye of the Tiger” or the will to do it. Another example is Carman’s 1980’s song “The Champion”. It  has the ability invoked the will of Christian. How do you invoke the will of your students? I don’t know but by the Holy Ghost. I know I have done it and seen it done in classes. I would encourage you to be looking for the opportunity to have it happen in your class. Look for ways to involve the children’s will in your classes. It may happen through a song, preaching, an alter call, or whatever but be aware that it is needful for us all to “run the race until it is run”.

Teaching Tips: Perspective

Most people think the smartest person showed up then they walk into a room. Think about it. Smart successful achievers get counsel, another person perspective.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.
Prov. 12:15

The next time you are in a class change your perspective. By changing your perspective you will look in a different way at your class and then you can see “a new” and you will learn. What does the lead teacher see, what does the helpers/ co-teachers perceive, what does the child see, what is the parent’s perspective?

If you’re the lead teacher think what it is like to come into your class as a helper/co- teacher. Does your helper/co-teacher have enough direction to flow with the lesson? Are they empowered through communication, support and accountability, or are they in attendance as a classroom “paramedic” to handle trouble while you teach. No one wants to just handle emergencies and clean up after others. There is a verse about not muzzling the ox that treads out the corn. There should be a benefit for all involved not just back breaking work, more about harvest later.

If you are a helper/co-teacher, think what it is like for the lead teacher to plan and manage the whole class. Is there anything you can do to take some of the load? Do you ask if there is anything you can do to help, orhow you could do a better job. Do you attempt to converse with the lead teacher how to do things quicker and easier or how to solve issues that arise?

We all should put ourselves in the shoes of the parents. What does it take to get the family to church and on time? How do they see your class? Are the kids out of control during the pre-service and at dismissal? If that is all they see is it a wonder they don’t value the class time enough to show up on time not to mention volunteering to help.

What about looking through Miss April’s eye’s as the Children's Ministry Coordinator?

Delegating is only part of the responsibility. Feed back from the team is essential. She has to know what is happening to report back to Pastor’s Mark and Janet, to make adjustments to improve, and to avoid potential trouble. She is great at problem solving but don’t just come with a problem bring some answers to the predicament as well.

Then there is God’s perspective. I left Him for last because that is want most of us do. We are all working in His harvest field. This is what Jesus says about harvest:

The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. Matt 9:37-38

Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. John 4:35

The harvest field isn’t the problem. If you’re negatively criticizing the children,  that is saying the harvest is rotten. You’re not looking at them from God’s perspective. He says they are ripe and ready for harvest. His perspective is always right. Let’s pray for labourers. Lets get other’s perspective and counsel so we can deal wisely with our class.

 

Teaching Tips: Play Time

Adults get up and go to work; but children get up and play.  Play is a child’s work.  Children learn when they play.  We put ourselves at a disadvantage as teachers when we don’t have play time. Children open up to communicate when they play. As adults we may seat down with friends and some coffee and talk for hours. It is a very rare to see a child do that. We might be tempted to think that play time is foolish and a waste of time. Is a preacher foolish and wasting time as he relates a funny story or joke, no he/she is connecting to the congregation. Children are connecting when they play. If we leave them to play with only the other children then they connect with the other children and not the teachers. Be wise and play with the children. Not that you have to become childish, but you should come into their world and guide them in their play. This is much more than imposing rules and enforcing them. Let’s play with blocks and build something. Your lesson might be on Noah building a boat. Give the class different ideas on what to build. You can ask if they never built anything at home or school. Do they know anyone who builds? Talk about Bob the builder. Talk about how Noah didn’t get a choice on what to build. If sharing and working together come up between the children talk about how Noah had to deal with the same things as he built the boat. Has you help them to play and guide the conversation watch for doors of opportunity. They might be a story about what happen that week, thoughts of I can’t do it, children helping other children, or an act you can praise them for. I think you will be surprised by what you learn about your class and from your class. Toys that lend themselves to imagination will work best. Play dough, cars, dolls, stuffed animals, dress up, chalk board, puppets, sand box, cooking/dishing, and play store are some good examples. Toys that are purely exercise may not be the best. I like to look at my lesson for ideas on what toys to use. Go to a toy store or search on line and see what they have, you are looking more for ideas than to make a purchase. You might already have what you need but just didn’t think of it. The truth is during a 90 minute service kids are going to play where it is in your lesson plan or not so why not take advantage of it.

Teaching Tip: Praise and Worship

I would be the last person to teach people how to sing. But there are some points about the worship service I would like to share. Every age group needs praise and worship in their class. This will “look” different in different age groups. In the Infant to three year olds group activities are difficult, so an individual approach maybe appropriate. Then holding a baby or child sing to the Lord. When you sense the presence of the Lord say to the young child, “Do you feel that? It’s the Lord.” Help them to connect with Lord. Samual needed this help from Eli. The 2-4 year olds are able to do actions with a song but may not sing at the same time. This is fine, getting them involved is the goal. Once they are involved then move from a physical participation to spiritual participation, which can be a challenge. This takes the Holy Ghost and prayer to know how and what to do. Talk with other teachers and see what works for them. The ability to have some kind similitude in all the service can be beneficial. An example of this would be a worship blanket/mat that is spread out on the floor so everyone knows it is worship time. As adults’ standing together is their “key” it is time for worship.

True worshippers worship in spirit and in truth. “In truth” impliesthat they must know what they are saying. Songs that use unfamiliar words or phases will eliminate true worship. In the preschool class a song like “the B-i-b-l-e that’s the book for me. I STAND ALONE ON THE WORD OF GOD” is a phase that these concrete thinkers most likely don’t understand. They would have the concept that they are to stand on top of the Bible. I am not saying don’t use this song or any other song. I am saying teach the true meaning for what we are singing. For the elementary class put the lyrics of the song into a Word document, run the spell checker and at the end there is a reading grade level. If it is higher than a 3rd grader you may want to look for the more difficult words and be ready to explain them.

The dark ages came about partly because the Bible was in Latin and so were the worship service. Only the priest could read it and understand it. Let’s not be guilty of the same. Perfect praise comes from a baby, lets be diligent to keep that characteristic in our children. With our children not being in the adult service, it becomes critical to have a TRUE worship time in their classes.  

Teaching Tips: Put the Emphasis on the Learner

We just had Super Bowl week a while back. Quite a large number of people watch the Super Bowl just for the cool new commercials. After viewing them, they have no trouble recalling these outrageous advertisements, but all too often they have no memory of the product or service the commercial is promoting. Sometimes, we, as teachers, are guilty of the same mistake. We must keep our emphasis on the learner, not on what WE are doing.

Last week’s tip was staying on message. Each class is to have only one primary learning outcome. This week we want to key in on what is the message. There is a difference in the Word of God and a Word from God. The Word is the Bible to all; a Word is the Bible to me. We all want a Word from God. The Word is a good message, but a Word to me is a great message. You may have heard a very good teaching about that. Let’s apply that truth to our classes.

Our primary learning outcome is to be from the learner’s point of view, not the teacher’s piont of view. What that means is what change is going to happen to my students not what am I going to teach about. So, if I said my lesson aim or primary learning outcome is “I will teach what faith is” that would be the Word, which is good, but it would have been better to state, “My class will know what faith is”. Now this is personal (from the learner’s perspective); it is A Word from God. I have seen some teachers doing some pretty amazing, elaborate, expensive, and energetic presentations. The regrettable end was that the students got very little out of the presentation because the basis of the class was focused around what the teacher would do. Don’t get me wrong…I am all for great presentations.  Keep in mind that we are here to minister to the children. So, if we start with emphasis on the children, it is effortless to keep it on them. This may seem basic and unimportant, but let me give you an illustration.

If I had a dirty kitchen and I cleaned it, I would get to clean it again the next time it got dirty. If I had a dirty kitchen, and I gave orders to my daughter regarding how to make it clean, I would most likely have to tell her again how to clean the next time the kitchen got dirty. But, on the other hand, if I taught my daughter how and why we keep a kitchen clean today, in theory, the next time I had a dirty kitchen, I wouldn’t need to participate in the cleaning. When the emphasis is on me or the job, the objective is missed. With the emphasis on the daughter, she not only does part of the work herself, but now she has become a disciple (a learner). This is what we have been called to do, make disciples. Everyone knows that it takes the least amount of effort to clean the kitchen yourself. The greatest effort is in putting the emphasis on the learner to disciple him/her (I don’t mean discipline) to do the task. This also has the greatest reward. Let’s make disciples by keeping the emphasis on the learner, and we do that by keeping our primary learning outcomes written from the learners’ point of view.

In conclusion, lead teachers take the time to read the lesson aim from the curriculum and write out what will happen in your class to the student. The shorter and simpler you make it, the better. Communicate this to all the adults in the class. Use this as the point of origin for all you do in the service and you will be amazed at the learning that takes place. If you would like some help on writing your primary learning outcomes from the learner’s perspective, I can help you with that if you would like. Drop me an email mykrk@cox.net.

 

Teaching Tips: Recognition

Do people come up to you and they ask, "How did you get started in children's ministry?"  "That is such a great and important ministry, how in the world did you ever get started?"  Very rarely does any one ask me those kinds of questions.  Now if you were a great singer, they would come up and ask you those questions.  Or maybe if you were a television evangelist, you would have people calling you on the telephone, coming to you in person, saying, "How did you get started?”  I am sure there are so well known children’s ministers that do get asked how they became so successful. When people see great accomplishments, they think “I want to be like that and I want others to see me successful too. We all want to be noticed. In the children's ministry we're usually not seen.  The children come in, you have class and they leave.  They're gone and maybe a parent gives you a thank you. All the hard work you just put into the children is gone as they leave your class. Where did all the hard work go?  What was the impact? You don’t know and you may never know.  This is just the way it is in the children’s ministry. It truly is a faith ministry.

We need to be careful about receiving praise. I can recall a minister that when praised by people would only respond by “Glory to God, praise God”. He wouldn’t even say thank you. He wanted to be sure to not take God’s glory. We can receive praise but it is like receiving an offering we need to be mindful of whose money/praise it truly is.

Be assured there is a heavenly reward that is gained. Getting attention from the King of Kings is so much more than that of others. What really blesses me is when the children acknowledge me outside of the class room. Sometimes adults we say hello and greet people out of courtesy, children seldom do that. When children say Hi to you there is a genuine concern/value for you and what you mean to them. A student acknowledging me out of their choice is the best praise I can think of. I think Jesus feels the same way about us as his children.

 

Teaching Tips: Recruit by not Recruiting

We have to have help. Jesus is the Son of God, and He needed help from the disciples during His earthly ministry.   Now if I announced I need volunteers for General George Custer’s army to go fight the Battle of the Little Big Horn, I doubt if I would get anyone to apply. Does anyone want to raise their hand and volunteer for his army?  Oh, come on it's going to be real exciting.  You don't want to join his army?  No one wants to fight a losing battle and nobody wants to join a failure.  A long time ago, there was a ship called "The Titanic."  On its very first cruise, it sank.  Would you like to buy a ticket to go on the Titanic?  A ship that you know is going to sink.  Come on, I'll sell you a ticket.  Who wants to buy one?  No, you're not that foolish.  People are not dumb.  If you want people to help in children's ministry, then children's ministry has to work. So if you have a mind set, this isn’t going to work if we don’t get some help, you will not get help. People will join in if they see a benefit. 

 

We need to tell people what the Lord is doing in children's ministry. This telling is so important. I was in a service where a missionary was telling of the exciting victories he was seeing and you could tell the people listening wanted to be with him in that part of the world and participate in the victories. Even though this missionary had endured great hardship, this didn’t diminish the desire to take part. His goal was to tell the faithfulness and goodness of God not to recruit help. As teachers and helpers we need to tell what good things God is doing in our children, but not for the purpose of recruiting but to increase people’s faith in God.

 

So make it a point to tell what is happening in your classes, share about the goodness and faithful of God to others. This telling will create a desire to fulfill their calling and ministry. It will cause people to want to be apart.

 

 

Teaching Tips: Rewards

It is Godly to give rewards for doing the right thing. Rewarding your class for doing what is right during class will cause them to do what is right outside of class. Candy maybe the most common reward. Don’t let it be the only reward. Below are some rewards ideas you can use.

 

  • Being first to do the next activity
  • Seating in a place of honor, like next to the teacher
  • Getting to choose what to do next out of 2-3 options
  • Play a favorite game at the end of class.
  • Get all the helpers to make a special effort to give compliments to individuals in the class.
  • Do an outrageous act, like pour a gallon of water over a teacher.
  • Have the class clap and cheer the child for an outstand act.
  • Have one trophy that goes to the boys side or girls side and see who can win it most times in a month.
  • In front of peers tell the child’s parents how great they have been.
  • Have a leader or pastor come to the class and praise their efforts.

 

A heart felt appreciation is the key of an effective reward. Godly rewards are not monetary payoffs. Rewards done correctly build relationship, they help us to get connected and feel apart. Take the time and plan rewards for your class. Giving Godly rewards will help generate an excitement to be in class and an environment of loving to learn.

 

Teaching Tips: Snack Time Is Teaching Time

We mostly think of the toddlers thought 5 years when it comes to snacks during class. Elementary children love them too. Keep in mind this is not a feed a hungry program. We are meeting a basic physical need most children might have in a 2 + hour trip away from home. Younger children 2-5 yrs will be unusually quiet during this time due to the fact their mouth is full of food, so why not tell the Bible story during this time. You will need to plan in advance for this to work. If your students start eating as soon as you pass out snack to them by the time you reach the last child the first child may be finished. Train your class to wait until all have there food, pray, then all may eat together. Not only is this good etiquette but while they eat you can teach. Making this change might take a couple of services if your class is a custom to eating as soon as they get their snack in hand. If spaced allows set it all out before hand, and have them come to the snack table or area.  Another option is to have the child do something to “earn” the snack. Say the memory verse, answer a question, or give an example of the lesson taught.

Try to make the snack apply to the lesson. If your teaching on love you don’t have to make heart shaped cookie. Use your heart shaped cookie cutter to make hearts from slices of bread. For really creative people have he kids make an editable craft. For example you could use celery, peanut butter, and raisins to make an ark and Noah’s family. There are plenty of kid’s cookbooks that you can get ideas from. One of my favorites is tying a marshmallow to a ice cream cone, let the kids try to swing the marshmallow into the cone. I use this with the lesson; God wants the Holy Ghost in us. What ever you do don’t use snack time as break time for the teachers. Teachers do need breaks, but we have the children for such a small amount of time lets make the best of it. The elementary children would love to have a snack now and then in there class. Feeding someone is an act of love. This is an opportunity to make a deposit into your students. In fact the term “breaking bread” refers to talking about the things of God while eating. The elementary children have learned to talk while their month is full, so no guarantees on a quiet class during snack time for them. They do open themselves up more as they eat. This would be a great time to break the class down into smaller groups that includes a teacher who can direct the conversation toward the lesson goal. This can have a very high value then the students can give their input to a lesson, see that others have the same issues that they do, make a new friend, or even get to personally know the teacher.

Note: There maybe church policies concerning snacks and food in the class, be sure to follow them and if there is any question – ASK. And always choose the safest path. 

Teaching Tips: Stay on Message

To help your students get the message God has given you to get to them, stay on message. Have only one primary learning out come for each class time. Primary learning out come can also be called the objective for the service.

 

Have your students never responded “I don’t know” then asked right after service what their class was about? One of the main causes for this is not having the class focused on one truth. In adult services the minister may take “rabbit trails” off from his main message, but doing this in children’s ministry leads to confusion. It is not as easy as you might think to teach only one thought. Scientist say we can only hold one thought as our center of attention for a maximum of 7 seconds. If you’re the kind of person that says what every come to your mind, this could be issue.  Class planning is so important because it will keep you on the one truth.  The challenge is to say the same thing as many different ways as you can. Politicians call this staying on message. If their platform is cutting taxes, then every speech will have that as the main message. The food chain Subway sandwich has one message “eat our food and loose weight”. They don’t say it taste great, it’s a good value, or we can have you in and out in less than 3 minutes.  All that may be true but the one message is Jared lost weight and you can too, by eating our food.

 

Each class needs only one Primary learning out come.  Some curriculums call this the goal, lesson aim, or central truth. Every adult in the class needs to know what the Primary learning out come is for that class. Every activity in the class needs to support the one primary learning out come. The Holy Ghost does this all the time to us. If  on a Sunday morning we hear a radio minister preach on the value of prayer, in the church service Pastor Janet exhorts us to pray, then Pastor Mark says she preached his message, he then does a sermon on the value of prayer, and we phone a missionary and they testify to the importance of pray, you would know you need to spend some time in prayer. You got the message the primary learning out come the Holy Ghost want you to get. 

Teaching Tips: How to Teach the Memory Verse

Sunday School curricula have included a memory verse with every lesson for decades. Many teachers and students think of the memory verse as dull and boring, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

The first step is to make sure the students understand the wording in the verse. You can do this by choosing a different version of the bible, writing your own translation, choosing a different verse that applies to your lesson just as well as the one offered by the curriculum, or you can teach the meaning. All of the above are workable solutions. Anything is easier to memorize if you understand it. The International Children’s Bible is a great resource to make a verse understandable. Although it is written at a 3rd grade reading level, it is understandable by children much younger. It is OK to rewrite the verse using smaller words so your class can understand it easier. I would highly recommend this for the preschool age classes. For the older children, if they can put the verse in their own words, you will know with certainty that they understand the verse.

The next step is to give the students a physical activity to help memorize the words. By adding activity to the process of memorization, their ability to learn and to retain is increased. You may have seen some vocalists do a specific movement with their arm or body at certain portion of a song. This is to help their voice hit the same note at the same time in the song every time.  We can use the same technique for the memory verse by adding activity as the students say the verse. An example would be adding hand motions that correspond to certain words in the verse for the younger children.  Or you could place paper plates on the floor with one word written on each one and have the kids step on each one as they say the word. Use pictures, not words, when you can for the little ones. Post the verse on the wall, each word a different piece of paper. Make it big! Make it fun!  Use colorful paper, yarn and tape to make a path to each word on the wall, have the kids follow the path with their finger. As they follow the paths to each word, they will discover the entire verse. Once they know the verse, have them repeat it before they get a item for a craft, get their snack, get to play with a toy. Reward them enthusiastically for saying the verse all by themselves. Remember, if you’re not excited about learning the Word, why should they be?

 The older children would enjoy alternating words of the verse between the boys speaking and the girls speaking and standing each time they say a word. See who can say it the loudest. A game idea is to print (not cursive) each word on a large card (the size of 1/2 a sheet of construction paper), display these cards on the wall in order of the verse for the students. Then take away one word each time after the students say the verse aloud. If the verse has 6 words in it, the students will have said the verse 6 times before all the cards are gone. This game works much better than just having them repeat the verse back to you. You could get teams of 3-4  and give each of them a bean-bag or ball, for example. The first person says the first word of the verse and tosses the object to a teammate. After the teammate catches the object, he/she must say the next word in the verse, and tosses it off to the next person on their team. See which team can do it the fastest. We will be working on a list of games to play. The players will not enjoy the game if they don’t know the verse, so you work on your ability to teach the verses, and we will work onthe games and get them out to you soon, by the end of April at the latest. Also if you display the verse from the beginning of class, it will act as an advance organizer for your students. In other words, the students will be able to figure out for themselves what the subject of the lesson will be. The older students will even start memorizing the verse before you reach that portion of the class.