With so many awesome ideas “out there” in Children’s Ministry, it is easy to get caught up in something new. But is that what is best for our kids? I think changing something in ministry because it isn’t working is one thing. Changing something because it’s the “newest” thing, is another.
That doesn’t mean trying out new ideas is wrong. What is does mean is that many kids need routine: a scaffold, if you will, of basic, known, expectations.
Cheli Sigler, from www.chelisigler.wordpress.com, is here to help explain routines and how you can tweak your basic teaching structure to better minister to your kids.
Love, laughter, and young hearts learning God’s Word are the marks of a children’s ministry classroom or small group that is “in the groove.” If only the love, laughter, and learning came naturally or in a scripted lesson plan! These desired outcomes have to be orchestrated, practiced and honed. Experience teaches that established rhythms bring benefits to students and teachers. These rhythms help teachers find “their groove” and avoid “the grind.”
It is important to know that a good routine serves the teacher and students well, allowing freedom and creativity to flourish. A routine that stifles is not in the best interest of anyone. Weekly routines are helpful when applied to:
- Classroom management
Having been a children’s ministry volunteer for 15+ years, I’d like to give you a glimpse into my routines and how they’ve worked for me. Understand that something that works for me may not work for you, but it might help you think a new thought.
Hello’s: Let students know they are welcomed and valued.
- Warm-up Activity: This activity engages and prepares students for the lesson while I’m checking in late arrivals or taking care of other issues that invariably occur at the start of a class.
- Student and Teacher Introductions: I think we value and honor students by not assuming that they know who the adults are in the classroom, so I introduce myself each week. This ensures that first time visitors or students who have inconsistent attendance aren’t left in the dark. I use this time to build relationships with the students. I also give the students an opportunity to introduce themselves to others in the class. Keep it quick and lively for best results.
- Prayer: Invite God into your classroom/small group. You’ll have several students who’ll want to help with this.
Establish the rules and expectations so nothing gets in the way of the lesson. I rehearse 3-5 briefly stated rules weekly because students need the reminder. If you assume that they know the rules, you’ll find yourself having problems. My rules are:
- Respect others by keeping your hands and feet to yourselves.
- Listen to whoever is talking—especially if it’s a fellow student. (Most students know to listen to a teacher, but I want them to hear and learn from each other.)
- When we read God’s Word, everyone reads God’s Word. (This rule doesn’t work well for K-2nd because reading ability really varies.) I know that not everyone will have a Bible, but I usually print out a copy of the scripture so that everyone can read along. I tell them that it is important for them to read God’s Word for themselves. Students need to see that what they’re learning in class is from God’s Word—His letter to them.
- Participate. I let them know that I want them to have a great time, but that their participation is the difference between being engaged and being bored. I tell them that boredom is a choice.
Again, keep it brief and lively. The students who attend every week will eventually be glad to share the rules on a weekly basis so you don’t have to. If you do this well, everyone will be blessed.
Begin with the end in mind. Your students will remember most what happened at the end of the class.
- Review the lesson. God says, ______________; therefore I will ________________.
- Let them know how glad you are that they came.
- Pray a blessing over them.
- Provide a dismissal activity.
A teacher at heart, Cheli Sigler, has spent several years as a key Children’s Ministry volunteer: leading and training volunteers, customizing lesson plans for VBS and weekend programming, and teaching God’s Word to elementary students. You can catch her blogging on occasion at https://chelisigler.wordpress.com.