Welcoming every family and child, including those who have special needs, doesn’t need to be scary or overwhelming. Here are 3 tips that can help you make a difference in the lives of others.
Develop listening ears.
You are teaching God’s Word to children. What a privilege—and responsibility! You want each lesson to be the best possible. So you dig in and work hard to prepare visuals and activities. But how much time do you spend listening?
Listen to parents and caregivers. It’s one of the most important ways you can prepare for teaching children with special needs. A simple text or phone call may yield an idea that will benefit not only the child with special needs, but every child in your class. Try asking these questions: What can I do to make this lesson successful for your child? Are there sensitivities I should be aware of? How can I make the room an inviting and safe place for your child?
You may be surprised at how many helpful ideas you’ll receive from parents. Allow parents to become involved in the learning process!
Be willing to make simple changes or adaptations.
Recently, a mom shared her frustrations about the song motions being used during children’s worship at the church where her family attends. “I wish the leaders would use sign language, rather than just made-up motions. It would be so helpful for my son [who is deaf], and it would help the other kids learn how to communicate with him. When I suggested this, the leaders just said, ‘But the kids have so much fun doing the motions we’ve been using.’”
When ending a time of teaching, Jesus would sometimes say, “If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.” (See Mark 4:9, 23.) Jesus was talking about the kind of hearing that understands and is willing to take action. You may need to learn some sign language. Change a fluorescent light to a lamp with a softer wattage. Break an activity into simpler steps for a child to follow. Yes, extra effort may be involved, but the results will be worth any time (or money) it takes to help a child connect with Jesus.
Love like Jesus loves.
Jesus made a salve from mud and put it on the eyes of a man who was blind (John 9:1-11. Jesus reached out to an “untouchable” man when no one else would (Matthew 8:2-4). And Jesus took the children in His arms and blessed them (Mark 10:13-16). As you follow Jesus’ example, you may need to bandage a wound or willingly reach out and help a child who is struggling with a particular disability. Never forget that, as a leader, you have been called. You’re called to open your arms and welcome each child. You’ll called to assure them of God’s love for them.
Your one simple act can make all the difference!
Margie Redford is an editor for HeartShaper® Children’s Curriculum, a special-needs-friendly resource. For all your ministry needs, visit DavidCCook.com. You can make a difference—around the corner and around the globe.