Oct 132012

As Rachel Johnson said here, our theme for October is “Every child is unique.” With that in mind, the question I want to address today for volunteers and parents is, “What teaching method is best at church and home?”

What is God’s Teaching Method?

Let’s think first about how God teaches us. Good place to start, huh? Does he only give us stories to read in the Bible? Or are listening to sermons the only and best way to learn about the Gospel? No, God uses a plethora of teaching methods.

Look at the diversity of the Bible itself. It’s filled with poetry, letters, visions, parables, and histories for us to read and learn from. Not only that, but God uses corporate worship, the sacraments, Christian friends, creation, art, even hardships in our lives to teach us about the Gospel. The list can go on and on really.

So, I think from a biblical standpoint, we can reason that the best teaching method at church and home is…LOTS of different teaching approaches. We need to be teaching our children in a variety of ways, because every child is a unique learner. And, that’s exactly what we try to do on Sunday mornings.

How Do We Teach Kids on Sunday Mornings and Why?

As a  volunteer or a parent, I think it’s helpful to understand what teaching methods (in layman’s terms) we are utilizing on Sunday mornings in Crossing Kids. Our curriculum and schedule for Crossing Kids is aimed at reaching a wide variety of learners. You’ll notice that kids will often:

  • jump up and down, dance and sing in large group
  • create crafts or color pictures of the story
  • do hands-on experiments or solve puzzles
  • listen to someone read or tell the Bible story
  • play an active game that reinforces the lesson
  • pray before snack time
  • have discussions in small groups
  • see the Bible story in a creative visual way (i.e. a drama, puppets, a video)

Each child’s brain functions differently. Each child’s soul is stirred in disparate ways. Our kiddos (and we) can learn through moving, singing, creating, listening, dialoguing, seeing, praying and more. And for most of us, one or two of those avenues reaches our hearts and minds more effectively than the others.

It’s encouraging to me to know that when Boy A doesn’t seem engaged during Large Group time, he will likely connect with the main theme of the day at a different point in the lesson. He might learn best when he can talk, get his hands on something or act out part of the story.

How Can Volunteers Help to Reach Each Unique Learner?

As a volunteer, even if you’re not the main teacher, you can help engage a child in the lesson by thinking through different teaching approaches. Ask your 3rd grader a follow-up question during snack time about the lesson. Encourage a 4-year-old to draw you a picture about what she just saw in Large Group. Sing a simple song to a few of the Walkers around the Lego table to help them remember the lesson. Don’t be afraid to try out creative ways of reaching and following up with each unique learner in your class.

How Does This Apply to Parents and Teaching Kids At Home?

Parents, in the same way, we can be looking for a variety of unique ways to train and teach our children at home. I’m sure you can think of more ways to teach your children about God, but here are some diverse ways I’ve tried with my kids at home:

  • Take a nature walk and collect items in a bag. Discuss how God made everything.
  • Write prayers to God in a prayer journal (or draw pictures).
  • Use times of discipline, sadness, or worry in a child’s life to discuss the Gospel and God’s promises to us.
  • Make treats and cards for neighbors and pray for them before delivering the goodies.
  • Act out the Christmas story together.
  • Use the family take-home activities from our Crossing Kids Family Events. They are usually very hands-on, like a game, craft, or scavenger hunt.
  • Listen to the audio CDs of Adventures in Odyssey. This is our new favorite! We find them at the library and the kids listen to them during afternoon room time or before bed.

Some methods of teaching may flop while others will touch your child’s heart. The point is that each young person is different and requires a bit of unique thinking on our part as volunteers and parents to reach their unique hearts for Christ.

Reader Question: Any other ideas for how to reach and teach each unique child on Sundays or at home? What have you tried?

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