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.
As a teacher in Children’s Ministry, you put a lot of time and thought into preparing your lesson (at least, you should). You’ve thought about methods for reaching the kids. You’ve tried to pick activities and stories that will keep the kids engaged in the story. You’ve researched the Bible lesson you are present. You’ve tried to keep things interesting. But, there is one more step in making sure that your lesson will work for your audience. After you’ve prepared your lesson and you think it is ready to go, there is one more critical step in your preparation. You must step back out of the weeds and view your lessons through the eyes of your intended audience. Picture yourself as a six-year old boy or girl (or whatever age you teach) and work through your lesson. Answer these questions through their eyes:
- What do like about the lesson?
- What don’t you like?
- Would you have trouble paying attention?
- Are there parts of the lesson where you will find your mind wandering?
- What would make the lesson more interesting to you?
- Do you understand the lesson?
- What questions would you have about the lesson?
Step away from your role as teacher and become the student. Put aside all the knowledge you have gathered in preparing your lesson and pretend you have never heard the story before. Now pretend that you’re a kid who has grown up in church and heard this particular Bible story twenty times before. Will you tune the lesson out immediately as something you already know, or is the presentation and lesson innovative enough to keep your attention? Try to look at your lesson through the eyes of all of the different kids in your classroom.
Another trick I am lucky enough to have at my disposal is a six-year-old daughter and an eight-year-old son. Many weeks I run new characters, ideas, and even whole lessons by them to get their input. If I’m planning on showing a video, I let them screen it for me and tell me whether or not they think it will work in the lesson. I have never gone through that process where they weren’t able to give me some suggestion that ultimately made the lesson much better. In fact, they have become such an integral part of my preparation that I often invite my eight-year-old son to help me when I am presenting the lesson on Sunday mornings.