Tips & Tricks

Boos, Charts and Pictures… Now What?

– Julie Cox

You’ve just received your curriculum for the first quarter. You have the teacher’s guide, student books and a resource pack full of charts and pictures. Now what?

Often the Christian education director assumes all teachers know exactly what to do during their class time and how to use the materials. Unfortunately, many children’s workers have never taught before. Many don’t even have childhood experiences to draw from and some are fairly new believers.

Unfulfilled Expectations?

Consider Amy. She felt honored when the Christian education director offered her a position in the third- and fourth-grade girls’ class. She had always loved her teachers and looked forward to interacting with this group of lively girls. Amy envisioned them running into the room and listening eagerly while she taught God’s Word. She imagined fun times with the girls in and out of the classroom.

Her hopes were in vain.

Every week the girls came later and later to class. They seemed to leap from their chairs when class was dismissed and Amy even began to suspect they avoided her outside of class.

On one particular morning as she was gathering her things in the classroom Amy overheard some of the girls talking in the hall about how they dreaded class—her class. “It’s so boring,” one said. “We do the same thing every week,” said another. A third soft voice said, “I just don’t get it. I don’t understand what she’s talking about.”

Amy was devastated. She had worked so hard. She had been so careful to follow the teaching manual. What was she doing wrong? Maybe she wasn’t teacher material and should just quit.

A Simple Solution

Fortunately for Amy, a seasoned teacher came to help with the class. The experienced teacher quickly realized the problem. Amy was staying too close to the book. All of her plans focused on doing everything exactly as it was written in the curriculum—and it was not reaching the girls in her class.

So what’s a teacher to do?

The first thing to do when you get your curriculum is to take inventory. Check to see if you have everything you need.

  • Do you have a teacher’s manual? Does the resource pack come with pictures or charts?
  • Are student books available for the children? Do they meet the needs of the children? Are they too easy? Too hard?
  • Will your students use the take-home papers or leave them behind?
  • If flocked figures are provided do you have a flannel board to use them on and do you know how to use them?

Before your first lesson do a little research. How many students will you have? How is your room set up? What equipment do you need? How much time will you actually have with the children?

When you begin your lesson preparation, choose the activities that best suit your class. If you have only 45 minutes to teach it may not be practical to use all the activity ideas. For instance, some curriculum suggest great learning centers but they may not be feasible in a small room. Try using one learning-center idea at a time.

Or if your class has too many or too few students to play review games requiring teams, do some modification to make them work.

Just Do It!

Once you know your resources, necessary adaptations and your general approach, test them in class. After just a couple weeks you will have a better idea of what your students enjoy. One group of children I taught loved to sing. My next class didn’t like singing at all. Remember to be flexible and accommodate the children’s needs and desires when possible. Don’t be afraid to ask for their input.

Continue to increase your own resources. Participate in training programs that are offered. Read magazines and books on children’s ministry. Build up a file of good ideas and tools from Evangelizing Today’s Child magazine. Learn from veteran teachers.

The next time she taught, Amy used some ideas from her helper. In just a short time a great change occurred in the class. Amy grew in her confidence and now the girls are eager to attend each week. She knows the answer to “Now what?”—and now you do, too!

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