Tips for Sunday School Teachers
The lessons and activities provided on this site are designed as a list of options. You are not expected to use every activity, all the memory verses, or all the discussions. My hope is that each lesson has options for you to choose what is useful to your class. Furthermore, you will probably need to customize the information provided for your group's age level, background and interests.
Below are some major teaching lessons I learned the hard way...
If you don't know it, they won't learn it
The first big lesson that I would spare you having to learn by experience is this: if you don't know it, they won't learn it. I learned this when teaching primary children the books of the Old Testament. It had been a while since I had reviewed them. When the kids discovered that I didn't know them forwards and backwards, it totally drained their motivation to learn them. And this principle applies to the lessons as well. That doesn't mean you have to be able to answer every off-topic question they ask. It's a great example to say, I'll have to look up the answer to that. But if it's part of the lesson you expect them to learn, you'd better know it.
Get your mind thinking early
My other great lesson has been to start early in preparing. Not just because it's easier, but because your mind will mull over the lesson even when you're not actively working on it. So if I'm preparing a lesson and can't think of an appropriate craft, my brain works on that problem all week until it comes up with something. If I start the night before, I don't think of the perfect activity until it's too late.
Teach from the Bible
My third suggestion I borrow from a book I read by Bobbie Miller (Stairway to Teaching, Miller Publications, 1972 ). She emphasized teaching from the Bible, literally. Rather than having your class book or notes on the desk and teaching from that, have your notes in your Bible and teach from it. I was mortified one night when my class came together and one girl asked, "Why do I have to bring my Bible, we never use it?". The thing was, she was right. From that night on, I picked out pertinent (and easy to read) verses from the lesson text for the students to take turns reading. That way they experienced that this was from the Bible.
Get them moving
Incorporate movement into the activities as much as possible. Kids will move during class. It's much better to control that movement than to let it happen "their way". So I've altered typical class review activities to incorporate movement. My students' favorite is true and false. I have a true sign on one wall and a false sign on another wall. The kids stand in the middle. If the statement is true, they stand by the true sign; if it's false, they go to the false sign.
Have them live it
Another great way to get younger students to remember a lesson is to have them act it out. This doesn't have to be some great production with scripts and clothes. It helps to have one or two simple props. Kids have a terrific imagination. Just feed the lines to them as you read through the story. (Hearing the lines twice just emphasizes what's happening). Again, this incorporates movement, makes the lesson more real, and helps reinforce it in their minds.
You don't always have to do the whole lesson, just one scene can make a
difference. In teaching the temple to students, I have them each take turns
being the High Priest going in the Holy of Holies alone. (I draped a cloth over
a line for the veil). They just didn't get it until they did it. And you can
tell if the kids "get it" or not. They question what they're supposed to do and
you can test whether your language is clear to them.
Use a template
As you can probably tell from my lessons, I use a template to prepare each week. I don't always use each activity, but having them ready lets me customize the lesson to the kids who come. It also gives me a base from which to alter the activities. Some weeks instead of true and false, we'll do wise and foolish, or obedient and rebellious. I use various review games with the questions. The template leaves the bulk of my creativity for the crafts and activities, which are the hardest part for me.
Have a point
Keep the application firmly in mind when creating the lesson and activities. Make sure the lesson teaches it, the memory verse reinforces it, the activities review it, and the children know it. Focus. Don't try to include everything related to the issue.
While the students are coloring or doing worksheets, I'll often just talk about the discussion points to see if they got it. This gives them a chance to ask application questions in a more conversational way.
Let the students know up front what the class will entail. Give students a reason to listen to the lesson. Tell them up front that you will be reviewing. Use activities like the Listening Game to encourage active listening. Ask questions during the lesson. Encourage discussion.
Keep in touch with your students
Find out your students' birthdays. Buy, make or e-mail cards for them on their day, when they are ill, or just to encourage them. If they have e-mail access, send them homework reminders, encouraging verses, or birthday wishes with a . Snail mail assignments to absent students, or to all of them. Written reminders will assist parents as well as youth.
Depend on God
Remember that God will support you as you do His work. He will provide the resources, the time and the talent, since you have offered your will.
Improve Your Teaching
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