Group Publishing
CMM0514
Subscribe Button

Ministry Must-Haves

Children's Ministry Magazine

download a PDF of this Children's Ministry Magazine Extra here

All people learn differently -- regardless of age. Whether you look through the lens of Gardner's Multiple Intelligences, the Index of Learning Styles, or another learning-style model, it's important as a teacher to recognize the variety of ways kids best absorb information -- especially if you're charged with teaching kids God's Word to impact their lives.

Research shows, though, that most teachers unconsciously teach in the way they learn best. So if a teacher learns best through lecture, he or she is most likely to spend the majority of classroom time lecturing to kids. This leaves kids who learn best in another way disengaged and disinterested -- and not learning to their full potential.

That's why we've created this handy checklist based on the latest best practices in education. Copy the checklist and keep it in your classroom as a reminder to vary teaching styles and methods so all kids get to experience lessons in a way that speaks to them. Simply check off the best practice as you use it, and when you've checked them all, there's a great chance you've connected in some way with each child.

1 GESTURES AND EXPRESSIONS -- Your gestures and facial expressions add another layer of communication to your message -- and they help children grasp meaning. One teacher compares teaching with acting: "It's like stepping up on stage and performing" -- meaning you speak, act, and gesticulate differently than you do in casual conversation -- and doing so is a valuable communication tool.

What it looks like: You're animated, enthusiastic, and engaging when teaching. You make a conscious effort to simulate activities, events, and emotions from lessons, such as demonstrating planting seeds in the parable of the sower. Kids see you're excited about what you're teaching.

2 PHYSICAL MOVEMENT -- Borrowed from language acquisition techniques, Total Physical Response (TPR) is the basic premise that when children respond to commands or requests physically, it "imprints" their brains with the new information and a parallel physical action. So children who act out biblical events are more likely to remember and make a mental connection to what they've learned.

What it looks like: Children perform impromptu dramas and role-plays. It's common for kids to physically perform activities from the lessons, such as casting a net, grinding corn, and washing one another's feet. Kids know when they're in your class, they'll be moving.

3 MEDIA -- Visual and auditory media is an important contributor to kids' learning experiences. Kids respond to the visual storytelling and other stimuli present in media resources.

What it looks like: Media sources such as videos, music, and even the Internet enhance and reinforce your lessons. Kids look forward to experiencing media in measured portions as it highlights key points and develops background and contextual information about events and people.

4 VISUAL TOOLS -- Items such as pictures and models help kids make visual connections to what they're reading or hearing about, increasing their comprehension and interest and reinforcing the subject matter.

What it looks like: You use visual aids to communicate additional information about your lesson, such as an image comparing the size of Noah's Ark to a football field or various ethnic interpretations of what Jesus may've looked like.

5 GRAPHIC ORGANIZERS -- Charts and diagrams -- created by kids -- help kids categorize, organize, and sort the information they're learning. These tools not only help kids grasp and think critically about abstract concepts, they also reinforce meaning.

What it looks like: T-charts, Venn diagrams, four corners charts, webs, and other creative sorting tools enhance each lesson. Kids' creatively designed diagrams and charts decorate your walls. Kids can explain how they've organized the information and what the chart communicates -- whether it's a family tree or a comparison between two people from the Bible. For samples of graphic organizers, go to www.childrensministry.com/diagrams.

6 THEMES -- Themed teaching helps kids mentally organize and contextualize information. So when kids learn a lesson about the prodigal son, they learn how that event fits in the larger theme of forgiveness. Themes help kids see the bigger picture and give them a sense of predictability.

What it looks like: You promote and discuss your larger theme of study with kids -- and you talk about why the smaller pieces, such as individual lessons, fit in the theme. When asked, kids can identify the monthly or quarterly theme and can reason through why individual lessons fit within it.

7 PEER INTERACTION -- Kids connecting with other kids and building relationships is a critical component to learning. A noncompetitive, accepting, safe environment fosters healthy peer interaction. Children need opportunities in each class to interact with their peers in a developmentally appropriate time frame and manner.

What it looks like: All children feel welcome and at ease in your class. You give kids several opportunities to discuss pertinent topics and build relationships. Even quieter children feel comfortable, though they're less likely to speak up, and all kids understand the basic rules of respect for others and letting everyone have a chance to talk.

8 FUN -- Kids learn when they're laughing, and a happy classroom is a healthy classroom. Educational games boost memory and offer opportunities for kids to digest and strategize the information they've received.

What it looks like: Kids play games specific to subject matter. Cooperative, team-building games where everyone wins are prevalent. Kids have fun -- all within the context of Christian education.

9 VERBAL EXPERIENCES -- A fantastic tool for helping kids absorb what they're learning is to have them verbalize the information to someone else. If kids can discuss what they're learning, they're more likely to comprehend and absorb it.

What it looks like: You get kids talking by challenging them to verbal games such as 20 Questions or Find Your Match (quizzing others about a mystery identity). Kids have a blast doing mock interviews, singing songs, and doing biographical sketches to share with peers and parents. You intentionally create opportunities for kids to investigate and then talk about people from the Bible.

10 COMPREHENSION STRATEGIES -- Teaching kids to think critically about what they're learning -- before they learn it -- is a key best practice that's engaging and lets kids ponder what they're going to learn.

What it looks like: You show kids the lesson materials (images, props, craft supplies, and more) as you're introducing the lesson and ask them to guess what the topic and point might be. Kids are intrigued and exercise their creative thinking skills as they survey the information you give them and make educated guesses about what they'll learn. cm

  • Page 1
Print Article Print Article
 
Childrensministry.com Blog network
 
Copyright © 2014 by Group Publishing, Inc.