Big Picture

Tips & Tricks

Child-Size Teaching

Why would a teacher use a time line in her first grade Sunday school class? I suspect she saw the idea somewhere and thought it looked like fun-not realizing this age group doesn’t understand time relationships!

Child-size teaching means communicating truth to kids on their level of understanding, experience and spiritual maturity.


We’ve heard Bible words so often we sometimes forget how strange they sound to a child. Most difficult words can be restated simply. A child probably will not know what redeem means but he will understand buy back. Even short words like pure, praise, glory and shed cannot be taken for granted. Know the religious background of your students so you will be aware of how familiar they are with biblical terms. Another area to evaluate is the Bible passage you will teach.

Some people feel children should be taught all Scripture. Certainly we don’t want to repeat the same few stories over and over until they are no longer appreciated. Yet time spent presenting details of some harder to understand Scripture passages could be better used to ground children in foundational truths that fit their immediate needs.


Do you illustrations relate to children’s experiences? A teacher wanted to illustrate disappointment and told her class about the dinner she burned last week when preparing for guest. Instead she could have made a stronger impact by talking about a child who worked on beating a video game but lost at the last minute. Remember, kids ride bikes; they don’t drive cars. Plan your illustrations on their interest level.

Before class two girls complained about spelling words they were supposed to learn for school. The teacher challenged them by repeating a memory verse, “Do all things without murmuring and complaining” (Phil. 2:13). “We know that verse,” they said and quoted it together. “Then why were you murmuring about your spelling assignment?” the teacher asked. One of the girls quickly said, “But Philippians 2:13 doesn’t have anything to do with our spelling words!” Somehow the link to the child’s life had not been forged. Teach specific commands instead of simply saying “Obey God.” Help kids know the rewards of obedience and the penalties of disobedience. Present today’s positive examples from the lives of Christian heroes. Discuss how we learn to know God-His grace, power and friendship-as we obey.

Spiritual Maturity

Elementary-age children need to be strengthened in basics of the Christian walk: consistency in daily devotions, exercising faith through prayer, obeying instantly, saying no to sin, loving others, to name a few. These are basics for all of us-disciplines we must continue to develop until we see the Lord. But you can be tempted to share too deeply with children because you are excited about something God has revealed for your own life. Be careful to communicate to children on their level of spiritual maturity. Not “dying to self” but saying no to selfishness.” Not “giving your life as a living sacrifice” but “saying yes, Lord, I want to obey you every day.” Not “being more than conquerors,” but “trusting Jesus to help you win over your problem.”

Do you sometimes expect kids to be nearer perfection than you are? Instead, provide encouragement for the battle. Praise each attempt toward holy living. Stress the mercy and forgiveness of God. Show how great servants of God failed then succeeded. Pray with the child about the struggles. Teach child-size lessons on their level of understanding, experience and spiritual maturity. Don’t go beyond where God has placed your students on His time line!