Posts Tagged "Teaching Tips"

#9 – You Are Not Alone (Tips For Large Group Teaching)

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.

In his letter to the church in Corinth, Paul said, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” [1 Corinthians 11:1].  Rather than exalting himself, Paul was simply saying that others should learn from what Christ had taught him.  Likewise, in any ministry, we are conceited when we are not willing to look to, and learn from, others both in their successes and their failures.  No matter what position you fill in Children’s Ministry from monthly volunteer to multi-site/megachurch Children’s Pastor, there are people who you can look to for advice and guidance.

One thing that has continues to amaze me more and more as I meet more and more people involved in Children’s Ministry is how willing they are, as a profession, to share information and ideas.  Take advantage of that.  Reach out to others in your area who are in your same position.  In many cities there are groups of Children’s Ministry professionals who gather periodically to exchange ideas and sharpen one another.  Find books from people you trust and respect in Children’s Ministry and devour them.  People like Jim Wideman, Sue Miller, Reggie Joiner, Dale Hudson, Scott Werner and Aaron Reynolds all have great resources out there.  I remember when our Children’s Ministry Director told me that something I had written reminded her a lot of something else she had read from Jim Wideman.  I went and read everything I could find of his, and I learned a lot.  And, in this technological age, you don’t even have to go to the bookstore to learn from these mentors.  Many of them have blogs online where you can catch up with what they are thinking on an almost daily basis.  I featured a bunch of them in a series of posts I did several months back:

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#8 – Keep It Fresh (Tips For Large Group Teaching)

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.

Always be on the lookout for the next “thing” to use in your lesson.  Any method, trick, gizmo or other thing done over and over and over again will eventually get old.  Even a laser light show with live music and a smoke machine will be boring after a few weeks.  I think a child (or adult) who lived at Disney World for a while would eventually find even that boring!

Constantly be on the lookout for, and thinking of, new ways to present your lessons to the kids.  Teach them in a normal large group.  Show them a video.  Video yourself from a “remote location.”  Use characters.  Use puppets.  Incorporate music into the teaching rather than just using it during worship.  Ask the lead pastor to come in for a day.  Play a game.  Put on a show.  Have a question and answer time.  Let the kids act out the lesson.  Let the kids teach the lesson.  Play a round of “stump your leaders.”  Involve small group leaders in the teaching.  Interview people during your lesson.  Go for a walk.  Invite guest speakers.  Hire a magician.  Have older kids come in and teach.  Whatever you can think of to keep things fresh and new will go a long way towards keeping the kids involved.  That is really the point of this whole series – finding exciting and innovative ways to teach kids about Jesus.

If you can get kids to the point where they sincerely don’t want to miss church on Sunday because they’re afraid they might miss whatever it is you’re going to do next, you’ve succeeded.  The good news in this area is that most kids don’t have the long memory.  Just because you’ve done something once doesn’t mean that you can’t use it again.  Just make sure that you aren’t doing the exact same thing every week!  Finally, remember that everything you do in the limited time you have kids at church should be relevant and serve the purpose of teaching them about Jesus!

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#7 – If You Can't Remember Names, Be Creative! (Tips for Large Group Teaching)

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!

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#6 – Where Everybody Knows Your Name (Tips for Large Group Teaching)

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.

This was a line from the popular show Cheers in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.  It extols the comfort that comes from knowing that there is somewhere in this world where everyone knows who you are.  In the real world, that’s what our Children’s Ministries should be like!  There’s just something a lot more personal about calling a child by his/her name rather than just “you.”  Even in a large group setting, using a child’s name helps to build personal rapport.

Knowing every kid’s name is a lot easier in a small group setting where you only have 8-10 names to remember.  It’s a whole lot harder when you have 20 or 30 or 50 or more kids to try to remember all their names.

I use our check in list each week to keep track of who is and isn’t there.  I also make a conscious effort to study it every week to try to memorize the kids’ names.  I make notes about any distinctive characteristic a child might have, who is related to who, and anything else I can think of that will help me to remember their names.  I try to either great the kids every week as they get dropped off or be the one to wish them well and say goodbye as their parents pick them up.  This helps to further reinforce memorizing their names.  When all else fails, name tags are great!  I’m getting better and better every week at seeing a 1 inch by 4 four inch name tag from twenty feet away!

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#5 – Be Willing to Adapt (Tips for Large Group Teaching)

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.

I know! I know!  The very last tip was stay the course, and now we’re going to talk about being willing to adapt.  But, as a large group leader, adaptation is a critical skill.  You must be willing and able to adapt both in terms of long-term strategy and the immediate lesson at hand.  This does not mean you have to stop for every question, comment, and idea a rowdy five year old has for you during your teaching.  We talked about that last time.  That’s where you need to “stay the course.”  What we’re talking about here is an ability to adapt where you see the need.

It takes a certain amount of discernment to know the difference between an idea that is still developing and growing and just needs a little more time before the kids really catch on and an idea that has just plain bombed and gone up in smoke.  But, let’s face it, sometimes you try things in your teaching and large group time that just don’t work.  Maybe it’s the puppets that really make you smile, but even the younger kids find just a little bit too juvenile.  Maybe it’s the videos that you find insightful and engaging but the kids find to be way over their heads.  Maybe it’s the laser light show that you do every week that had just gotten to be a little bit too routine.  Even ideas that start out with a bang can grow old after a while.  You have to know when to cut your losses and go a different direction.  Part of being a leader is constantly evaluating, what’s working and what isn’t working?  Just because it worked last week doesn’t mean we should do it over and over and over again.

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