Welcome to a continuing series of tips on working with large groups of children. I hope that you will find these tips useful and be able to implement them in your dealings with large groups of kids. If you do, please leave a comment and let us know. For a complete list of posts in this series, please see the index page. So, without further introduction, here is today’s installment.
There will be times when you just can’t remember every child’s name. It happens. On Wednesday nights, we usually have roughly 150-200 kids for our Awana program. I handle game time which is split into three groups. I try my best to remember names, but no matter how much I try, I know I will never get them all down (especially the quiet ones). I tell people that my memory is inversely proportionate to the number of kids I have and that it’s pretty much gone at this point with four kids of my own.
I am a rare specimen in that I am not at all good with either names or faces. So, God has helped me to cope. I always refer more generically to some kids each week (even when I know their names). It could be “bouncy boy” in the second row, or “pink girl” in the back, or the “oh oh oh oh” kid to my right. Or, I’ll pretend not to remember names of kids who are sure that I do know their names (my daughter, for example). That way, if I don’t know a kid’s name, and I can’t see their name tag, I can still improvise and they don’t feel singled out or forgotten. I also find that it adds some fun to the teaching. The more creative you are with “names” the more the kids will laugh. I will offer one word of warning though – some kids do not take well to it and might feel like you are making fun of them. Never pick a name that will make a kid feel like you’re picking on them. Your goal is to have all the kids in the class having fun WITH one another not laughing AT one another!