Having your materials lined up, teaching by questioning, the importance of maintaining order: these are some of the topics that Steven covers in this helpful article on Sunday School success.
Surefire Ideas for a Fun Sunday School Class
By Steven Belks
You enjoy a great passion for Bible studies and the way of the Lord, but conveying that passion to a classroom of sometimes rowdy and inattentive students requires discipline and creativity. Here are some best kept secrets you can use to transform the "rigors" of Bible study into an enjoyable and memorable educational experience.
First, choose your materials wisely. So many religious texts for children are either overly dry or flowery or even insipid. Today's generation of internet-raised children need to be stimulated -- not with tons of electronic learning tools but rather with great stories that build solid morals. Talk to other Sunday school teachers about which books and materials work best in terms of reaching kids. Experiment with various stories and projects -- your kids can act as a de facto focus group to help you find the best material for your teaching style.
Along those lines, make sure you are prepared for class. Kids can tune out easily if their instructor doesn't command the space. You need not be the most eloquent public speaker or engaging personality to keep peoples' attention. But you do need to have a plan in place and to communicate that plan. Review your lesson each week. Bundle your information thematically. Bring in props or guests or materials that the kids can physically handle to make the lessons come alive.
Engage your students by answering questions -- no matter how ridiculous or potentially heretical. Kids are natural curious about God and about the world around them. If you don't know the answer to a specific Biblical question or prayer-related matter, talk to a church authority who can help you. If you’re overly rigid and dogmatic, you run the risk of turning off children and shutting down their minds.
Make religious ceremonies and prayers concrete. Try games, sports and show and tell projects to involve your students in the myths and rituals you teach. Kids naturally enjoy play acting different Biblical characters - so why not host a Bible-based talent contest? Kids can write Bible-based plays, do a Christian music dance-off, or even do Bible karaoke. Of course, you don't want to turn your Bible class into a free for all -- you do need the kids to attend to the lessons -- but you can find plenty of ways to spice up the classroom without sacrificing the profundity of your mission.
Be passionate about what you are teaching. It may have been a while since you reviewed the classic biblical tales. But the texts of Christianity are rich with important life lessons that are applicable to practically any dilemma the modern kid might face. Bring the Bible to life by letting the children see your own passion for the material. If you don't care about the lessons, how can you expect others to listen and connect with the material?
Keep order. If you have a class disciplinary problem, nip this in the bud right away. Once your classroom senses that you've lost control of the wheel, you may find it very difficult to regain order. While you don't want to be overly strict -- images of stern-faced nuns slapping disobedient children with rulers come to mind -- you do need to make sure that the kids in your class know their place. You can use your support staff to enforce rules. Your priest or administrator can help you manage particularly difficult students or emotionally tricky situations. You can also call in parents if things get really out of control. Lay out the "law of the land" early, so that kids know your expectations. Be clear and regular in your enforcement of these rules. If you go soft sometimes and overreact at other times, you will confuse the situation and undermine your authority.
Above all, lean on your abiding your love of children to see you through the tough times and to guide your instruction. You are going to make mistakes, and you will encounter classroom situations that throw you for a loop. But by leaning on that fundamental love that draws you to teach Sunday school, you can overcome obstacles.
Finally, remember that you don't have to reinvent the wheel. Borrow lesson plans from other, more experienced Sunday school teachers. The internet offers a panoply of courses, ideas, and activities for Bible study. Your school may have its own curriculum that constraints you. Or you may before forced by time considerations to focus only on a set agenda. Even if you are held to rigorous constraints, find some ways to inject your personality and sense of faith into the lessons.