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Tips & Tricks

Do you Know the Basic Needs of Kids?

—Linda Weddle

An important step in communicating God’s Word to children is to minister to their basic needs.

Children Need to Feel Important

We may assume children are made to feel important at home. But parents are often caught up in the shuffle of life and fail to recognize this need. Your students feel important when you remember their names. Do whatever you must do—name tags, lists, picture charts to refresh your memory— to be able to call each child by name at least once during your class. Work to­gether with your assistant on this goal.

Children feel important when you listen to them. Sometimes it’s dif­ficult to find time to listen. If so, try cutting back on your program or enlist additional teen helpers. With enough helpers, you can circulate during craft time. A child feels important when you give him a job. Ask an early arriver to set up chairs and a shy child to pass out worksheets. An idea that worked well in my class was “Star of the Week.”

We tacked a biographical sketch, the child’s picture and a Star of the Week rib­bon on the bulletin board. Everyone in the class had an opportunity to be hon­ored.

Children Need to Be Complimented

Most teachers look for ways to com­pliment children verbally. But why not write an occasional note of praise? Be specific in your comments. “I enjoy hav­ing you in class. Your smile lights up the room.” Encouraging words can change a life. What words of praise can you remember from years ago? Why not give that same kind of encouragement to a child?

Children Need Acceptance

Children may think they have to do something outstanding to be no­ticed—get high grades, make a soccer goal or sing a solo. Be sure your students know you accept them even if they get Ds, don’t make the team or can’t hit the right notes!

Children Need Security

If you are absent from class too often the children will not feel secure in your care. Follow through on your commit­ment to teach. If you must miss class let them know why. Keep your promises. If you make a deal that whoever learns his verse gets a magnet, come prepared. If you say the contest winner gets a trip to the zoo, take him as soon as possible or let him know when to expect the reward. Have a consistent attitude. Being friendly and joyful one week and grouchy and easily upset the next will promote feelings of insecurity.

Children Need Guidelines

Equip children to differentiate be­tween right and wrong. Try a story approach. “Katie an­swered the last question on her test and laid her pencil on her desk. She thought she had done well. ‘Give me the answer to number seven,’ Nicole whispered. Katie looked at her paper andQ” Have the children write an ending and tell why they chose that ending. Give a small prize for the best paper. Don’t just rattle off rules. Teach your students to make their own choices ac­cording to God’s Word.

Children Need to Show Love

Plan projects through which your class can reach out to shut-ins, younger classes, missionaries, etc. Teach a lesson on friendship. In this “gimme” world, they require training in how to show love to others. Ministering to the basic needs of children will not only help you commu­nicate God’s truths, it is a chief way to show your class you love them!