“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” – William Yeats
We move slowly through our lessons. This was, at first, a bit scary of a step to take (are we just naturally inclined to feel like everything must be conquered?!) but one I am convinced of – short lessons to keep their attention and slow moving through scriptures. In our 38 lessons together we have moved through 4 men’s lives.
Teaching any group of children will present a myriad of challenges – the biggest challenge being that you cannot anticipate all of the challenges that will come!
The home life of the child will spill out into the class, often times in a very unbalanced way. While the majority of stories that may be shared will be exaggerated, keep a watchful ear and eye for signs of a child’s gentle cry for help.
Reading, writing, oral and/or coordination skills may be poor and sensitivity should be used. Don’t let a lack of skill be a door of humiliation for any child in your care. Extend great effort to strengthen each child’s strengths and to build up and strengthen their weakness in character.
Language skills may be another challenge within the class – take great effort that words and concepts are understood for what they are meant to convey with each child. Children with auditory processing disorders may hear something completely different from what you mean to convey – the art of narration helps to check what they are processing.
Love for Each Child
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1
Each child is created in the image of our great God and bears His fingerprint. Each child holds the potential towards greatness while also having the desperate need to be loved for exactly who they are right now.
I have come to believe that the most powerful tool a teacher can hold is a love for those we are teaching. A deep, genuine love that desires the best for them. A love that is communicated to the children – a group of persons each unique in their own makeup that sense love differently from the next child.
Sometimes it is easier to love some more than others, but praying for the ability to love is a wonderful place to start with those that are a struggle to love. Love isn’t easy, convenient, neat or tidy – but it is a wonderful place to come from when teaching and it is worth spending the time in prayer asking God to give us a love for each of the students we have.
Get to know each child. Get to know their family.
Ways to pray for the children in Sunday School
- Their salvation/growth in Christ
- Families salvation/growth in Christ
- A genuine love for each child
- Christian friends and mentors through their growth
- That they would love the Lord with all their heart, soul, strength and mind
Truth and Beauty
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8
The mind of a child is capable of understanding truth and beauty – and both should be present within each lesson. Fight to find that which will capture their attention and interest and refuse to teach without it. It is a noble and worthwhile investment of energies to reach the learning style, interest level, and vocabulary of each child in our care.
For my Sunday School kiddos it has played out in this schedule: a necessary 10 minutes of silly wiggle time outdoors, followed by circle time where we open in prayer, have a time of singing, a time of review with dress up or objects, a short lesson with something to hold, a time of narration and conversation, and more wiggle time.
A few times when the silly wiggles are still abounding and attentions are elsewhere, we have more silly wiggle time mid class. But this is the exception, not the rule. I am pretty stern and have high expectations of the kids and they are more than capable of sitting still and listening – but sometimes additional wiggle time is necessary for the sake of holding fast their attention.
Usually, a change in position, voice tone (not be overly used, but a low whisper with an exciting message does wonders for silencing the room quickly!), or giving the fingers something to do brings their attention back.
Truth in Our Actions and Words
“Truth has no special time of its own. Its hour is now – always.”
Children can discern what is true and what is not. And the sad reality is that most have been fed a lie about truth. Consider how often a child is told “Don’t do that, or else…” and continues on boldly attempting the same action – never facing that mythical “or else”.
As we are presenting God’s word as truth we need to be diligent that we are presenting everything we do and say as truth. Within the Sunday School room it is important to create clear, concise, and consistent choices and consequences. The children need to know you mean what you say in all aspects – they need to hear truth in your words and in your actions.
It is a beautiful gift to be given time with someone else’s child, but it is also an enormous responsibility and one to be entered with prayer as we look to point the next generation to Christ.